Cheltenham Town: Russell Milton's youngsters beat Cirencester on penalties
ED WILLIAMS held his nerve to stroke in the penalty that took Cheltenham Town into the semi-finals of the Gloucestershire Senior Cup at Cirencester Town on Tuesday night.
The Cheltenham-born attacking midfielder also set up Bobbie Dale’s equaliser in the 24th minute after Jack Smith had given Brian Hughes’ Centurions side an early lead.
Williams was one of four second year scholars in the Robins’ line-up, with six first years and one professional in goalkeeper Connor Roberts.
Cirencester also fielded a predominantly youthful team, but they did have former Wales international Glyn Garner in goal and the experienced Scott Griffin up front.
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Joe Hanks, who is close to penning a professional deal at Whaddon Road, delivered a left-footed cross which narrowly evaded Dale in the seventh minute, but Cirencester opened the scoring less than a minute later.
A ball in from the right was headed against the bar by Shane Bumphrey and Smith nodded in the rebound from close range.
Roberts made a smart save with his legs to deny Smith a second in the 22nd minute and Dale continued his recent goalscoring run by finishing clinically after Williams’ delivery from the left fell to him in the box.
Winger Zack Kotwica caught the eye with some quick and skilful runs, but Cheltenham were given a thorough examination by Cirencester.
It was a competitive contest, with both teams showing plenty of commitment, but no further goals followed and the match went straight to penalties, without a period of extra-time.
Substitute Dan Roberts and Bumphrey for Cirencester and Cheltenham’s Hanks and Michael Gonzalo all scored from the spot.
Jon Beeden was then denied by Connor Roberts’ save and Kotwica converted before Tim Bond blazed over the bar to leave Cheltenham on the verge.
Harry Williams missed and Kieran Jones scored, leaving Ed Williams to wrap things up, sending Garner the wrong way to take Cheltenham through 4-3 on penalties.
CIRENCESTER TOWN: G Garner, L James, E Dunton, J Beeden, K Pitts (T Bond 46), B Hooper, S Packer (D Roberts 63), L O’Brien, J Smith, S Griffin (K Jones 76), S Bumphrey.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: C Roberts; E Keightley, M Gonzalo, S Hamilton, J Bowen; O Donaghue, J Hanks, E Williams, H Williams, Z Kotwica; B Dale. Subs not used: H Rivers, K Whitehead, C Marshall, Z Jones, A Powell.
REFEREE: T Blanch.