FA Cup First Round Cheltenham Town 3 Yate Town 0
YATE did their small town proud once again with a brave display at Cheltenham but it was one step too far as their FA Cup adventure came to an end.
An unfortunate Scott Thomas own goal on three minutes gave the League Two promotion-chasers an early lead, but that did not affect Yate as they hit the woodwork twice through Tom Knighton and Jake Cox in a breath-taking opening spell.
Goalkeeper Josh Dempsey once again enhanced his reputation with a string of fine saves as Yate frustrated a near full strength Cheltenham, before Kaid Mohamed scored a crucial second for Cheltenham in the 65th minute and former Bristol Rovers striker Chris Zebroski added another in stoppage time.
A magnificent 889 fans made the short trip north and they were rewarded with a fine performance from the Bluebells, who belied their status as the lowest team left in the competition by pushing the home side all the way before tiring late on.
To put their efforts into context, on the previous Saturday Cheltenham beat Exeter City 3-0 at Whaddon Road, while Yate lost by the same scoreline at Evesham United in Southern League Division One South and West.
Yate were always going to need a slice of luck if they were going to cause a major upset, but that seemed against them as they got off to the worst possible start. Dempsey got down low to keep out Mohamed's shot from the edge of the box but Jake Cox's attempted clearance came off Scott Thomas and rebounded in.
However, the Bluebells made a fantastic response with Knighton hitting the post from Matt Groves’ cross before Cox’s free kick from 25 yards came off the underside of the bar. Some of the travelling fans behind the goal thought it crossed the line but referee David Phillips deemed that Robins goalkeeper Scott Brown scrambled it away just in time.
The action-packed start continued with Dempsey doing well to scoop Sam Deering’s dangerous cross-shot before Matt Groves made a strong run from the left and fired over from 25 yards.
Dempsey then made a series of fine saves to keep Yate in the game. He pushed a well-struck 25-yard strike by Reading loan man Lawson D’Ath around the post before parrying Shaun Harrad’s close range effort from the following corner.
Russell Penn then had a 30-yard strike tipped over by the in-form stopper, who then got down well to save Keith Lowe’s header from Billy Jones’ corner.
Yate looked a threat on the break, though. Wring’s shot crept just wide and James Harmer did have the ball in the net to a chorus of cheers behind the goal but the flag had already been raised following Mitchell Page’s pass.
Dempsey was called into action within three minutes of the second half to keep out Sido Jombati’s header and Harmer made a good block from Lowe’s shot on the rebound.
Brown had to be at his best at the other end to keep out Groves’ curling effort with an out-stretched hand, but Penn was close to extending Cheltenham’s lead when his glancing header from Jombati’s cross went a whisker wide.
The home side did get the crucial second goal two minutes later, though, when another dangerous corner by Jones was headed in firmly by Mohamed.
As Yate tired, Cheltenham looked like increasing their advantage, Deering’s shot from 35 yards flying just past the post before substitute Chris Zebroski looked certain to score when he made a mazy run into the box, only to blaze over.
Dempsey was then alert to keep out another Lowe header from Jones’ corner and Jeff Goulding somehow hit the ball over the bar from near the goal line after another great cross by Jones.
Page almost caught out Brown with a deflected shot from 25 yards before the goalkeeper eventually smothered, but the lively Zebroski went closer at the other end when he cut into the box and struck the bar.
Zebroski eventually got his goal in the second minute of stoppage time when his first effort was blocked before he turned and hit the ball low past Dempsey.
Cheltenham Town: Brown, Jombati, Lowe, Bennett (c), Jones; Penn, D’Ath (Pack, 46), Deering,; Harrad (Zebroski, 61), Duffy (Goulding, 61) Mohamed. Subs not used: McGlashan, Roberts, Andrew, Hanks.
Yate Town: Dempsey, Warren, Cox, Purnell (Bryant, 88), Thomas, Wring, Groves, Vahid (c), Page (Hiroli, 88), Knighton, Harmer (Meaker, 73). Subs not used: Cousins, Price, Sarr, Ancin.
Ref: David Phillips.
Att: 3,055 (889 from Yate).
Gazette star man: Josh Dempsey.
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