Cheltenham have a lovely badge, don’t they? So nice to see the faux heraldic crest and the currently ubiquitous roundel eschewed for something a bit more abstract. These things are important, as one of the Guardian’s premier buffoons once argued.
The winners of this match will be away to Swansea City in the fifth round. The Swans have just battered Nottingham Forest, whose 62-year itch in this competition remains unscratched. John Brewin has the details of that 5-1 thumping, plus news of all the other 3pms, in today’s Clockwatch.
Cheltenham make two changes to the team named for Tuesday’s 1-1 League Two draw with Newport County. Lewis Freestone and Chris Clements take the place of the injured Chris Hussey and Ellis Chapman.
Manchester City meanwhile make ten changes from the team that beat Aston Villa 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday. Phil Foden is the only player to retain his place. Aymeric Laporte returns after a month out injured, while academy prospects Tommy Doyle and Taylor Harwood-Bellis are given an opportunity to show what they can do.
Cheltenham Town: Griffiths, Raglan, Tozer, Boyle, Blair, Azaz, Thomas, Clements, Freestone, May, Lloyd.
Subs: Flinders, Long, Bowry, Williams, Addai, Harris, Ebanks.
Manchester City: Steffen, Harwood-Bellis, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy, Torres, Fernandinho, Doyle, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Foden.
Subs: Dias, Sterling, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Ederson, Bernabe.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).
The magic of the FA Cup, distilled into its purest tincture, right here! Fourth-tier Cheltenham Town are rewarded for edging past Mansfield Town in the last round with a home tie against one of the best teams in the world: Manchester City.
It’s a David-Goliath scene all right. Pep Guardiola’s side have won their last nine matches straight, while Cheltenham have only won one of their last nine, that aforementioned win over Mansfield, and they needed extra time to achieve that. There are 82 places between these sides in the football pyramid. And even if Pep does the Big Rotate, his squad is so deep it’s difficult to see a way for Michael Duff’s men to pull off a seismic shock.
But it’s that cup magic again, and in this grand old tournament, you just never know. Set pieces, maybe. Or a determined rearguard action, the Robins somehow holding out for extra time and the sort-of-lottery of penalties. We have a good idea how this is going to pan out, but stranger things have happened in the cup. And after what happened a couple of years ago at Wigan, nobody at City will be taking Cheltenham lightly. Kick off is at 5.30pm. Pour me a shot of that magic tincture! It’s on!