Cheltenham Town: Don't focus on the prize, warns Yates
MARK Yates has urged his Cheltenham Town players to put what is at stake aside as they bid to end the club's Hereford United hoodoo tonight.
The winners of the second-round replay at Edgar Street will play Everton at home in a televised third-round tie on Monday, January 7.
The financial rewards of such an occasion along with the opportunity for another moment in the limelight make it one of the most important matches in Cheltenham's recent history.
The Robins have not beaten their rivals in ten attempts and Yates was in the team that last defeated the Bulls, 2-0 at Edgar Street in February 1999.
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"I'm not one for looking back too much because I like to concentrate on the here and now," Yates said. "But hopefully we can finally put Cheltenham's record against Hereford right tonight.
"It's a big game and we all know the implications, but they can't be our concern because we need to be fully focused on our performance and being effective at what we do against a powerful Hereford team."
Yates made three changes to the team that drew 1-1 at home in the original tie for the trip to Northampton Town on Saturday.
Sido Jombati, Russ Penn and Chris Zebroski came in for Marlon Pack, Jermaine McGlashan and Kaid Mohamed as Yates deployed a formation specifically tailored to keep Adebayo Akinfenwa quiet.
After the worst possible start, with the Robins' nemesis scoring after a minute followed by an own goal from Billy Jones to put the Cobblers 2-0 up, Cheltenham showed character to hit back for a 3-2 triumph.
Yates admitted he is spoilt for choice as he picks his starting XI to face Hereford, with several players giving him food for thought with their performance at Sixfields.
"Whoever plays I expect them to be right at it," Yates said. "It was good that Marlon had a breather along with Jermaine, but I certainly didn't rest them with tonight in mind.
"It was good to go to Northampton without two of our really good players and get a positive result and they won't just walk back in because people have put in good performances, which shows the strength we have.
"It will be a case of putting the balls into a hat again and picking them out to see who plays and which formation we use!"
Striker Jeff Goulding is a doubt due to swelling at the back of a knee picked up in last week's reserve friendly against Bristol Rovers.
Yates has an otherwise fully-fit squad from which to choose and Pack's return in a holding midfield position in favour of Keith Lowe could be the only change.
The Robins boss has demanded a higher tempo than his team showed in their Abbey Business Stadium draw.
"We know Hereford have good players who can play at our level and above for sure, but we have good players too," he said.
"We let in a soft goal which gave them something to keep hold of at our place, but we were too pedestrian in the second half and we have to make sure we are better than we were or it will be a tough night."
About 1,000 fans are expected to be packed into the away sections at Edgar Street.
â Tonight's match is all-ticket and no tickets will be available on the Edgar Street turnstiles.
Tickets in the Cheltenham Town section are still available and will be on sale at the Abbey Business Stadium between 10am and 1pm. By the close of business yesterday, the Robins had sold over 900 tickets.