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Cheltenham Town vs Manchester City at Jonny-Rocks Stadium

Jonny-Rocks Stadium Referee : Stuart Attwell
23rd January 2021 5:30 PM (GMT)
  • 1 Cheltenham Town

    • ‘59' Alfie May
  • 3 Manchester City

    • ‘81' Phil Foden
    • ‘84' Gabriel Jesus
    • ‘90'+4' Ferran Torres


Commentary By John Edwards


Signing off ๐Ÿ‘‹

That's all from me tonight, Blues!

Cheltenham gave us a scare and should be proud of their performance - they made us work hard for victory, but we got the job done to set up a fifth round tie away at Swansea City.

And how good was Phil Foden, again? He's getting better and better with each passing week.

It's West Brom for us next, who come to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday 26 January for a 20:15 (UK) kick-off.

Make sure you join us for that and check out the posts below for all the reaction from this game.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 


Pep Guardiola: Quality made the difference

"I didn't have regrets even when we were 1-0 down, we had clear chance from the first minute. When they take advantage it gets complicated but we got it to 1-1 and it was tight. We came here with humility and had the quality to make the difference. 

"They used their quality in the box, they are taller and better than us there and we showed clips on how to solve it. It is difficult to control that."


Cheltenham boss Michael Duff - They've done that to better teams than us

"I don't know if it's tough to take, I'm super proud of the players. I don't know if we deserved [to concede] the third but they are world-class players and scored three in the last 10 minutes.

"I'm incredibly proud. the players they brought on from the bench and they way they celebrated the goals tells you something. They know they've been in a game. They've done that to better teams than us."


Paul Dickov: Goal great for Jesus

On importance of Jesus scoring: "That goal will do him the world of good. Iโ€™ve always been a big fan of him. Itโ€™s difficult as everyone expects him to be Sergio but he offers something different but getting the goal will be the world of good." 

On Foden's performance: "He ran the show. Everything came through Phil Foden. It was all about him and he's going to be huge in the next few weeks."


Phil Foden: There's no better feeling than scoring

Another brilliant performance from Stockport's finest, who is our top scorer this season, with nine goals.

Here are his post-match thoughts...

On the performance: "I thought we were a bit slow at times in the first half but we're delighted we got the win. The long balls were not working in the first half so we tried to keep it shorter in the second half to break the lines and in the end we got the goal."

On his good form: "There's no better feeling than scoring. I'm just enjoying scoring at the moment because that's what I enjoy most. I'm playing well at the moment but you can easily have a bad performance so I'm just trying to stay at the top of my game and playing like this."


Swans next

We'll face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in the fifth round.

The Swans cruised into the next round, thrashing Nottingham Forest 5-1 earlier today and currently sit second in the Championship.

We last faced them in an FA Cup quarter final in 2019, winning 3-2 away thanks to Sergio Aguero's late strike.


Live now โ˜๏ธ

Plenty to discuss after a classic cup tie!

Nedum Onuoha and Paul Dickov are analysing this one on We're Not Really Here right now.

Tune in at the top of the page.


FULL-TIME: Cheltenham 1-3 City

Job done โœ…

Harder than we would have liked, but we're into the fifth round and that's what we came here to do.

Huge credit to Cheltenham Town for a performance they should be proud of. They were magnificent today. 


GOOAALLL! Cheltenham 1-3 City

Ferran Torres wraps it up!

Joao Cancelo spots Ilkay Gundogan's run in behind as he cuts inside off the right flank and the German cuts it back to give Torres a simple tap in from inside the six-yard box.

A well-worked goal!


Ball doing the work

There's some tired legs out there for Cheltenham. They're still chasing everything, but they can't get close enough to the City players, who are knocking it around nicely as we try to see out the game.

Four minutes of added time.


YESSSS! Cheltenham 1-2 City


Gabriel Jesus is the scorer, but it is all about the pass from Fernandinho.

He clips an inch perfect 30-yard ball in behind the Cheltenham defence, which Jesus kills with one touch before spinning and firing emphatically past the keeper.

Cheltenham appeal for offside, but Stuart Attwell and his assistants say no - there's no VAR this evening.


GOOAALLLL! Cheltenham 1-1 City


City have faced a wall of red shirts for the last five minutes as the hosts try to protect their lead, but Phil Foden has finally made the breakthrough.

Joao Cancelo fires a cross over to the far post from deep on the right and Foden arrives unmarked to volley past the goalkeeper.

Composure personified and his ninth goal of the season.



Off target

Immediate involvement for Joao Cancelo, who picks Foden out with a cross that the youngster heads over and the Portuguese full-back then takes matters into his own hands with a curling 20-yard effort off his left foot which goes well wide.


Approaching the final 15-minutes and Cheltenham have started to drop deep, but they continue to defend like lions.

City have just won a couple of corners, the first of which was headed clear as Laporte tried to meet it and the second, which dropped in the six-yard box before being hoofed clear. 



BIG save from Josh Griffiths in the Cheltenham goal.

Phil Foden is the provider with a defence-splitting pass that puts Mahrez in the clear, but the Algerian's powerful effort is too close to the Robins' goalkeeper who sticks out a leg to stop it.

Another good chance.



It's a double substitution from Pep, with Harwood-Bellis and Doyle going off to be replaced by Dias and Gundogan.

Michael Duff follows suit with a change of his own - George Lloyd departing for Sean Long.



Ben Tozer slides in to block a Ferran Torres effort.

It's been a real captain's performance from the Robins' skipper so far and he'll have to dig deep here as City try and get back into this tie.


Goal. Cheltenham 1-0 City

The hosts take the lead as top scorer Alfie May taps in from close range following Ben Tozer's long throw in.

The Cheltenham skipper has launched it into the box from midway in the City half and it's evaded everyone before bouncing invitingly for May to smash into the roof of the net from five yards.

Aymeric Laporte felt he was fouled in the build-up - he got a nudge in the back as he went up to head it clear - but referee Stuart Atwell disagrees.



Everything but the goal!

It's a great move from City, as Foden turns in midfield and threads the ball through to Jesus, who cuts across goal and bends one towards the bottom right corner.

Goalkeeper Josh Griffiths is beaten, but the Brazilian's effort hits the outside of the post and bounces wide.

Great opportunity for us and Cheltenham will have breathed a huge sigh of relief.


Shuffling the pack

Pep Guardiola has made a slight tweak at half-time, moving Mahrez inside into a central behind Jesus, with Torres switching out to the right wing.

๐Ÿคž that can bring us more joy in the second half. 


High and wide

A major miscue from Ferran Torres there.

He drifted out wide on the right where the left-back was marking him closely, but his cut inside and shot didn't have the desired effect as it flew well wide of the goal.



Charlie Raglan goes in the referee's notebook as he scythes down Gabriel Jesus.

Nowhere near the ball, but Phil Foden's free-kick comes to nothing.


Nedum Onuoha - City prepared for long throws

Ben Tozer was one of the Robins' standout performers in that first half, with his long throws attracting plenty of attention, but Nedum Onuoha thinks City will cope with the aerial assault. 

"Depends how prepared you are. When you have to defend in a non traditional way some won't want to do it but for others they are right up for it. It looks like Pep has planned for it and it doesnโ€™t look like it will cause too many problems."


Paul Dickov - Chances will come

"The longer game goes on City should take advantage. Fitness plays a big part and no doubt chances will come but City must put them away."



Level at the break and Cheltenham will be the happier of the two teams.

City have created a number of half-chances, with Mendy's effort which was cleared off the line the closest either side has come to a breakthrough, but other than that, it's been a fairly even game.

The Robins will be delighted to still be in the tie and City will want to see an improvement in the final third.


Last action

Doyle wins a corner after his cross is turned behind on the right, but the Academy graduate's resulting set-piece is comfortably dealt with as a Cheltenham defender clears with a free header.


Aerial assault

Cheltenham win a throw in on the left hand side near the City box, which gives Ben Tozer a chance to unleash one of his much-talked about long throws.

The Robins' skipper reaches the six-yard box with his effort, but Steffen turns it behind amidst a crowd of players and then does the same from the resulting corner.



Back under way after a break for the fireworks.

Cheltenham restart with a free-kick deep in their own half which goalkeeper Griffiths punts into the City box, but Laporte gets up to head it away.

Six minutes added on.



Referee Stuart Atwell has stopped the game and both teams have moved to the sidleline due to a firework display going off just outside the ground...

...Which wasn't what I expected to be writing this evening.



Foden and Mahrez combine in midfield, with the Algerian working the ball onto his favoured left foot and taking aim with a fierce drive from 25-yards.

It's another one which doesn't have the direction to trouble the Cheltenham goalkeeper and he beats it away.



The hosts get a set-piece opportunity with a corner on the right, but big Ben Tozer can't get his head on it and City clear to Mahrez, who races down the right flank but can't pick out a black shirt with his cross. 



City recycle the ball after an attack breaks down and it comes to Fernandinho 30-yards from goal.

The Brazilian tries his luck, but it flies wide of the left-hand post, though it looked like the goalkeeper had it covered. 



Phil Foden might feel he should have done better there.

Fernandinho switches the play with a raking ball out to Mendy on the left and the Frenchman elects to take it first time, with a volleyed pass into the area.

Foden's in space, but perhaps it comes at him to quick as he doesn't wrap his foot around it enough to get it on target. 


Some great deliveries so far.



A good opportunity for the hosts as Finn Azaz releases Alfie May.

The striker takes the shot on early and tries to drill a low effort inside the near post, but Steffen reacts well to turn it behind.



City are getting plenty of crosses in here. This time it's Mahrez, who checks back onto his left foot and curls one in from the right. 

Jesus gets up to meet it, but it comes off his shoulder and goes wide.



Cheltenham concede possession deep in their own half, which allows Mendy to slide Foden in down the left.

The midfielder cuts it back to Torres, who found space in the area, but but his effort is too close to Griffiths, who gets down smartly to push it away. 


Formation watch

It's a back three for City, with Garcia in between Harwood-Bellis and Laporte.

Fernandinho is sitting deep and protecting them, but Mendy is operating as a left-winger in a change from his usual full-back position.




Doyle sends a cross in from the right, which is cleared only as far as Mendy on the edge of the area and his fierce drive is headed off the line by Cheltenham captain Ben Tozer.

It looked destined for the back off the net - an incredible block!


Too easy

It's City's turn for a set-piece opportunity, which Tommy Doyle whips in from the right.

Aymeric Laporte rises highest, but it's straight at Josh Griffiths in the Robins goal.


Chances for the hosts

Cheltenham win a free-kick in a central area 35-yards from goal, which Chris Clements sends to the back post. 

It's half cleared by City, before Conor Thomas snaps a shot into some defensive bodies. The home side appeal for handball, but it's waved away by the referee and City do eventually clear.


Cheltenham respond

The hosts respond in kind, breaking down the right and sending a low cross in that striker Alfie May is unable to connect with at the near post.

He does collide with the advertising hoardings, but is fine to continue!


Quick start

We get our first chance inside 30 seconds.

Jesus latches onto Mahrez's long ball forward and tries to guide it over the Cheltenham goalkeeper, Griffiths, who stretches out a hand to divert it away.


Nearly time!

The teams are out on the pitch and we are moments away from kick-off.

Here's a reminder of how we line-up this evening...

XI: Steffen, Harwood-Bellis, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho (C), Doyle, Foden, Torres, Mahrez, Jesus.

SUBS: Ederson, Dias, Sterling, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Cancelo, Bernabe.


Bar turned dressing room not a problem

There has been much talk of City getting changed in a hospitality area at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, with Pep Guardiola jokingly pleading at his pre-match press conference for Cheltenham not to leave any beer in there.

It's certainly a talking point ahead of clash between two teams at opposite ends of the Football League, but Nedum Onuoha is confident the City squad will take it in their stride.

"They are still playing the game. You talk about the change but all of these players have come through this. If they are shocked by this i'll be surprised. The stuff in the dressing room doesnโ€™t matter. The mentality is important with the team."


Cheltenham must 'make it a horrible game'

Having presided over an FA Cup giant killing (which we hope we'll avoid today) during his time in charge of Oldham, Paul Dickov can appreciate the size of the task at hand for Cheltenham today.

He reckons the hosts will have to make an effort to seriously disrupt City if they're to have any joy.

"Make it a horrible game from the start. Before my Liverpool game we just played 5-aside all week because I didn't want to affect the players mentality. We actually trained at Platt Lane, City were a great help. I didnโ€™t have to tell them what to do, we just wanted to cause an upset so we went out there and played attacking. You have got to give them something they haven't seen before. Attitude over ability is important."


Swans await for the winner

The winner of today's tie will face Swansea City away in the fifth round.

Steve Cooper's side thrashed Nottingham Forest 5-1 this afternoon, with Liam Cullen and Matt Grimes both netting braces.


Mancunian match up

Defender Charlie Raglan provides the Mancunian spirit in the Cheltenham side, though (whisper it quietly) he supports the red side of Manchester.

Nonetheless, itโ€™s a big day for him today:

โ€œItโ€™s massive for my family and friends who are predominantly Manchester United fans. From a personal point of view, Iโ€™d have had a lot of people who would have wanted to come and watch me and the other lads in such a big game. Manchester City are one of the best teams in the world right now. It will be a really good occasion and itโ€™s one Iโ€™m certainly looking forward to.โ€


Fast start

They may be in the fourth tier, but Paul Dickov has warned Cheltenham will have players who can hurt City, which is why he wants to see us build an early lead today. 

"They are good players and having seen football at that level there are talented boys at that level. Ability wise, these players are good and have come through Premier League academies. City will need to look to burst Cheltenham's bubble early on."


Business as usual

Pep Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference that he will be treating Cheltenham with respect and Nedum Onuoha says City's willingness to approach every game the same is what sets us apart.

"One thing about City is identity comes from consistency. They perform the same way against everyone. The intensity and the preparation is all the same. Some managers change their tone in Cup game and as players you might feel under prepared but not with Pep and City."


Talking tactics

As always, we'll have to wait until kick-off to see which formation City adopt, but the main question prior to kick-off is whether it will be a back four or back three.

If it's a back four Taylor Harwood-Bellis or Eric Garcia could fill in at right-back, but the pair could equally form a three-man defence with Aymeric Laporte that would see Benjamin Mendy play further forward on the left flank.


Cheltenham team ๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ“‹

There's Mancunian spirit in the Cheltenham line-up in the form of defender Charlie Raglan, who hails from Wythenshawe, whilst Finn Azaz and Josh Griffiths are both on loan from West Brom.

XI: Griffiths, Raglan, Tozer (C), Boyle, Blair, Freestone, Thomas, Clements, Azaz, Lloyd, May.

SUBS: Flinders, Harris, Long, Bowry, Addai, Ebanks, Williams.


Live now โ˜๏ธ

Paul Dickov and Nedum Onuoha are today's We're Not Really Here guests and it is live now!

Tune in at the top of the page. 


Team news ๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ“‹

City make 10 changes to the side that started in the midweek win over Aston Villa, with Phil Foden the only player to retain his place.

Fit again Aymeric Laporte starts for the first time in seven games and he is partnered at centre-half by Eric Garcia, who makes his first appearance for a month after spells out with injury and COVID-19.

Ferran Torres also gets his first start since recovering from the virus, whilst Academy graduates, Tommy Doyle and Harwood-Bellis are also involved in an XI that blends youth and experience.

XI: Steffen, Harwood-Bellis, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho (C), Doyle, Foden, Torres, Mahrez, Jesus.

SUBS: Ederson, Dias, Sterling, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Cancelo, Bernabe.


Guardiola โ€“ Every game a priority

Seventy-two places may separate City and Cheltenham, but City will be approaching this game with our usual desire.

Pep Guardiola was asked at his pre-match press conference whether, given the hectic fixture schedule, he would prioritise one competition over another.

The answer? A firm no.

โ€œThis is not going to happen with me. I know the Premier League is the most important one and the Champions League is the second most important one, but four finals in a row in the Carabao Cup is because every game is important.

โ€œSo, no chance [of prioritising]. Even if we arrive at the game without players, we are going to play the second team, but we donโ€™t drop any competition.โ€


Injury news ๐Ÿค•

We'll find out who Pep Guardiola has selected for this game in just over 15 minutes, but here is what we know already:

๐Ÿ”น  Kevin De Bruyne is out for between four and six weeks after picking up an injury in the midweek win over Aston Villa.

๐Ÿ”น Kyle Walker also picked up a knock in that game and will be absent today, but could be back for West Brom on Tuesday.

๐Ÿ”น  Sergio Aguero is self-isolating after testing positive for Coronavirus.

๐Ÿ”น Nathan Ake remains sidelined with injury, but Aymeric Laporte is fit again after training this week.


Form guide ๐Ÿ“ˆ

City beat Birmingham City 3-0 to reach the fourth round and head into the game on the back of a superb run of form that has seen us go unbeaten in our last 16 games in all competitions and win our last nine matches in a row.

Cheltenham sat sixth in League 2 ahead of this weekend after amassing 37 points from their first 23 games.

Town booked their place in the fourth round thanks a 2-1 win over Mansfield Town (after extra time) in their third round encounter earlier this month. They drew 1-1 at home to Newport County in midweek during their latest League Two fixture.


Pitch perfect

Cheltenham boss Michael Duff says the pitch at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium should suit City.

Seventy-two places separate the sides, but the hosts have not tried to create a quagmire of a surface in a bid to unsettle Pep's men.

"We'll make it as hospitable as we can and the one thing they will like is the pitch. You are not going to get a Ronnie Radford scene where it's a ploughed field.

"They will be able to play on it - we won't be training on it to make it as bad as possible. We do pride ourselves on playing good football, we are not going to ruin the pitch for this one-off."


Digital match ticket

'The dream draw, at the worst possible time' is how Cheltenham Town have described today's game.

The League 2 outfit are calling it one of the biggest days in their history and, understandably, the absence of fans is a major blow, which is why they have introduced a digital match ticket with the aim of selling out the delightfully named Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

If it's something you'd like to support, you can find out how to do so in the post below. ๐Ÿ‘‡


We're Not Really Here ๐Ÿ“บ

Paul Dickov and Nedum Onuoha are the guests on our live matchday show today and will join presenter Kyle Walker in the studio at the Etihad Stadium to offer their expert analysis.

The pre-game show begins at 16:30 - one hour before we kick-off against the Robins โ€“ and is available to watch right here in our Matchday Centre.

Dickov and Onuoha will also provide a brief half-time summary and after the game there will be 30-minutes of post-match reaction.

Itโ€™s a must watch for anyone who likes their matchday TV coverage to be unashamedly focused on City and you can get involved and share your thoughts by using the hashtag #WNRH on Twitter.


FA Cup day!

Good afternoon, Blues!

And welcome to the Matchday Centre for Manchester Cityโ€™s FA Cup fourth round tie against Cheltenham Town, who we are playing in a competitive game for the first time in our history.

Kick-off is at 17:30 (UK) and from here on out I'll be bringing you live updates to guide you through the pre-match build-up, in game action and post-match reaction.


Other games that day

  • Southampton1
  • West Ham United4
    Doncaster Rovers0
  • Swansea City5
    Nottingham Forest1
  • Barnsley1
    Norwich City0
  • Brighton and Hove Albion2
  • Millwall0
    Bristol City3
  • Sheffield United2
    Plymouth Argyle1