Cheltenham Town 1 - 3 Manchester City: City break Cheltenham hearts with late comeback
CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: Phil Foden of Manchester City scores their sides first goal past Josh Griffiths of Cheltenham Town during The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Cheltenham Town and Manchester City at Jonny Rocks Stadium on January 23, 2021 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

A smash-and-grab performance from Manchester City in the final 20 minutes of the FA Cup fourth round means Cheltenham Town miss out on a chance to write their names into the history books.

Cheltenham fans were on cloud nine as Alfie May stroked home the opener for the underdogs - mainly thanks to a Ben Tozer long throw-in.

Sadly for the Robins, the class, style, and stamina started to shine from the City team in the closing stages of the game as goals from Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres turned the game around for the six-time FA Cup winners.

Story of the match

City went into this FA Cup match-up the obvious favourites with the bookies, looking to add to their 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions. However, Cheltenham Town also boasted a record of four games unbeaten, their last defeat coming from Barrow all the way back in December. 

The news of an injured Kevin De Bruyne will have undoubtedly affected the City squad and has been a real worry for Citizens. The tie against League Two side, Cheltenham Town, was a chance for another Blue to step up to fill the Belgian midfielder-sized hole.

A heavily-rotated City side stepped into Jonny-Rocks Stadium, with the 10 changes providing unusual starts for Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle.

Cheltenham were much more conservative with their changes, with two differences for The Robins - Lewis Freestone and Chris Clements for Chris Hussey and Ellis Chapman, neither of which were fit enough for the bench.

The two sides set the tone of the game right from the off, with fantastic link-up play between Riyad Mahrez and Jesus almost leading to a lead inside 25 seconds for the away side, if not for a smart Josh Griffiths save.

Seconds later, Cheltenham top-scorer, May, almost latched onto a ball in the City box but was inches from connecting and bulldozed into the advertising boards instead.

It was the underdogs that made the brighter start in the opening minutes of the game of David versus Goliath, but Michael Duff's men were unable to take the lead with their early chances.

Benjamin Mendy must have been wheeling away in celebration as his strike flew towards the top corner, only for a heroic goal line clearance from Cheltenham captain, Tozer, denied the Frenchman the opening goal. A big let-off for The Robins.

Torres' screams alone would have been enough to convince most that City should have been awarded a penalty. However, Stuart Attwell saw nothing wrong from Tozer, waving play on. The Spanish winger was quickly on his feet again.

Pep Guardiola's men were edging closer to an opener after 20 minutes but Griffiths had other ideas with a smart save down to his left to deny Torres, who had been at the centre of the penalty call minutes earlier.

May came close to adding to his goal tally with the talisman narrowly missing out on the near post due to a smart save from Zack Steffen in the City goal. The attack was not over yet with a Cheltenham corner to come, but a cynical foul on Doyle from Will Boyle gave City a relief, earning him the first yellow card of the game.

Shots were raining on the Cheltenham goal now, this time with Fernandinho attempting a longshot from outside the box, followed by a powered effort from Mahrez. Neither effort tested Griffiths how Guardiola would have wanted.

The sides were even going in at the break with May latching onto a handful of chances for the home side, only being denied the opportunity to add the finish by the offside flag. The win was there for the taking.

Cheltenham were still up for the fight in the second half as Charlie Raglan joined his teammate in the book, following a rash tackle on Jesus.

Jesus then had the best chance of the game so far, 10 minutes into the second half, as Foden slid the Brazilian striker through for a one-on-one but could only clip the outside of the post, squandering a brilliant chance for the Citizens - disappointing for the man low on confidence.

Cheltenham's main tactic paid off as a Rory-Delap-esque throw-in from Tozer resulted in a shock lead for the home side. The long throw caused pandemonium in the City penalty box allowing May to stab home from two yards out.

Controversy surrounded the goal, as well as City players surrounding the referee, but the dream was well and truly alive for the Gloucester town.

Mahrez was given a chance this time by Foden as the Algerian winger was slotted through, but Griffiths was in the way yet again to keep Cheltenham ahead in the tie.

The Premier League giants were piling on the pressure now. All substitutions had been made. It was all or nothing.

Foden, arguably City's best player on the night, finally broke the Cheltenham deadlock with a fine finish past the in-form Griffiths. City's pressure had finally paid off as substitute Joao Cancelo floated in a stunning cross towards the back post. 

Jesus then took the lead two minutes later to turn the tie around, breaking the hearts of all Cheltenham Town fans. Another floated ball into the box, this time by Fernandinho, was smashed into the corner by his national compatriot, Jesus. 

There was a sense of inevitability when the third City goal went in with the last kick of the game. With The Robins pushing to equalise, City were able to score a well-worked goal which was poked home by Torres, finally getting the goal to seal the win for the away side.

Man of the match - Ben Tozer

Despite it being a win for Manchester City at the end of a classic FA Cup tie, Cheltenham Town centre-back was crucial to the League Two side.

The defender set up the opener with his long throw into the City box, and was the main frustration for the City players.

The whole backline for Cheltenham were good shouts for MOTM but leadership from the captain is what tipped Tozer ahead. 

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