Robert treble helps FGR beat Cheltenham
Fabien Robert scored a hat-trick as Forest Green Rovers began the defence of their Gloucestershire Senior Cup title with a high scoring win over Cheltenham Town at The New Lawn, writes Richard Joyce.
The Frenchman's treble will have struck a chord with the FGR management, as an own goal from Cheltenham's on loan Aston Villa defender Easah Suliman also helped Forest Green on their way.
Billy Waters also bagged himself a treble for the visitors, with both sides using the opportunity to field a number of first team players, mixed in with members from both team's academy set-ups.
Both sides tested either goalkeeper early on, but it was FGR who nosed in front when on 13 minutes Robert latched onto an excellent Matt Tubbs knock down, and scored his first of the night.
It was almost two when Kieffer Moore went close. Callum Kitscha though produced a top drawer save to keep out the strikers headed effort.
At the midpoint of the half Cheltenham drew level through Waters, who finished off an excellent forward move by firing low under the body of Simon Lefebvre.
Academy second year Tom Anderson was introduced as a substitute after Moore was forced off with a head injury. The 17-year-old went close with a strong drive on 29 minutes, while Kitscha was again at his best to prevent Robert from scoring.
He was picking the ball out of his own net again though shortly after when Suliman scored an own goal after failing to clear Mohamed Chemlal's corner.
It was three just before half time for Rovers. Robert scored his second with a fine low finish into the bottom corner.
The former Lorient man sealed his third, and FGR's final goal of the night, shortly after the break.
Cheltenham's on loan Birmingham City forward Koby Arthur brought down Christian Doidge in the box, and Robert sent Kitscha the wrong way from the spot to make it 4-1.
Then something of a Cheltenham fight back saw them battle their way back into the game. It began when Waters was left with plenty of room in the box to fire home.
And they almost sneaked another goal when Waters looked to finish off a Jack Barthram header, only for Lefebvre to pull off a terrific point blank save.
Kitscha was again himself tested by youngster Anderson down the other end as the teenager came close to finding the net.
A nervy three minutes of stoppage time followed, as Cheltenham and Waters got their third.
It was too little too late though for the Robins to find any sort of leveller though, and Forest Green secured their progression into the quarter finals where a trip to Championship side Bristol City awaits.
FGR: S Lefebvre, W Ellliott, M Kelly (J Morris 60), C Doidge, A Racine, D Traore (G Gabbiadini 46), M Chemlal, F Robert, L McGrory, K Moore (T Anderson 19), M Tubbs
Subs not used: T Edmonds
CTFC: C Kitscha, J Barthram, E Suliman (J Nutting 73), M Bower, J Munns, D Whitehead, J Thomas, B Waters, K Arthur (L Llewellyn 67), J Hance (G Lloyd 46), J Lymn
Subs not used: L Clayton, T Cordell
Report: Richard Joyce
Highlights: Noah Dougherty & Richard Joyce