Mar 13

GFA Senior Challenge Cup: Gloucester City XI 1 – 2 Cheltenham Town XI (AET)

Cheltenham Town’s young guns battled past a Gloucester City XI for a hard fought County Cup victory.

A strong Tigers’ side failed to capitalise on a bagful of chances and found Rubies’ keeper Brad Poole a tough act to beat in an entertaining game at Glevum Park.

Matt Lock’s stunning extra time effort was cancelled out by two more fine goals from Jacob Morgan and Bagasan Graham to seal a Cheltenham victory after almost two hours of football.

With Josh Swales as a loan striker the Rubies youngsters struggle to get forward in the first part of the game. City pushed forward but Steve Davies soon found his efforts thwarted by first half Cheltenham skipper Harry Hooman.

Hooman headed an early Gloucester corner, whipped in by Matt Lock, free from danger and the Rubies enjoyed an early break, Michael Gonzalo, Charlie Hitchens and Joe Turley knocking the ball about confidently in midfield.

Experience City player/coach Neil Mustoe, rolling back the years in midfield, had to track back to cover.

Poole was forced to save a snapshot from Matt Lock ten minutes in as the home side, playing in their fourth new home in five years, looked for a goal.

A mazy run from Gonzalo moments later saw Gloucester keeper Chris Humphries get his first bit of match action, grabbing the cross on the edge of the box. Minutes later Graham looked to test Humphries further but fired well wide of the post.

City’s top scorer Darren Edwards fluffed a chance to improve his tally on 21minutes, played in by Davies with just Poole to beat he conspired to knock the ball past the wrong side of the post.

Three minutes later Graham beat City captain Tom Webb in midfield and waltzed up the wing, firing the ball across to Swales who had his chance to shoot stopped by Mike Green.

Matt Williams looked to have beaten Humphries from Cheltenham’s first corner on the half hour mark but it was chalked off for a foul in the box.

As the first half drew to a close Poole, who had been taught PE just up the road from Glevum Park by Tigers’ skipper Tom Webb, stretched for an important save to stop another Edwards shot.

Graham headed the ball over the bar after leaping to collect an Owen Donaghue cross as the first half ended all square.

City started the second half with energy, young George Lloyd slamming a shot past Poole only to see it saved by the post on 51 minutes.

City youth player Kieron Mace, starting in the Tigers’ experienced back line lept high to head a ball just over the bar ten minutes later.

Second half Rubies skipper Kieron Thomas was booked for a crunching tackle on Will Morford and City awarded a free kick 40 yards out on the left, taken by Lock and cleared confidently by the young Rubies defence.

Turley, battling with Matt Coupe in midfield, saw his opposite number booked for a shirt pull on 75 minutes as the stalemate continued.

City peppered the Cheltenham box with crosses but Poole held firm, saving a shot from Lock and a diving header from Coupe within minutes of each other.

Thomas himself had an effort saved off the line at the other end moments later as extra time drew nearer.

Goalless after 90 minutes the goals didn’t take long to show after an extra 30 minute were added to the clock.

First Lock whipped a showstopper into the top corner, Poole unable to stretch past far enough to reach.

Four minutes later Jacob Morgan drew the scores level, flicking the ball past Humphries.

Back to stalemate again City saw two goals disallowed, Morford’s for being a yard offside and Mullings for handball after Davies thunderball cross connected with the City midfielder’s arm at high speed.

With both sides beginning to look heavy legged the youth of the Cheltenham side began to be an advantage. Zack Kotwica, another former pupil of Tom Webb, looked strong at the back, clearing a ball upfield allowing Graham to hare away and put the visitors ahead on 113 minutes, scoring from a tight angle past Humphries.

City had a prime chance for an equaliser as the clock counted down from a Matt Lock corner. Matt Coupe diving low for a header, the ball blocked by Poole appeared to hang in the air as City’s night of wasted opportunities ended in defeat.

FT AET: Gloucester City: 1 (Lock 93)
Cheltenham Town: 2 (Morgan 97, Graham 113)

Gloucester City: Humphries, Green, Rawlings, Mace, Rose (Coupe 46 YC), Webb (Morford 46), Lock YC, Mustoe, Edwards, Davies, Lloyd (Mullings ). Subs: Parker, James

Cheltenham Town XI: Poole; Thomas YC, Hooman, Williams, Gonzalo; Turley, HanksĀ  Hitchings, Graham; Swales (Kotwica 46), Donaghue (Morgan 69) . Subs: Hitchman, Keightly, Reaney

Star men: Brad Poole (Cheltenham) Kieron Mace (Gloucester)

Att: 160

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