CHELTENHAM TOWN 1 HEREFORD UNITED 1
CHELTENHAM Town must win at Hereford United next Tuesday if they are to earn the right to welcome Premier League giants Everton to Whaddon Road in January.
They were held to a 1-1 draw by the Bulls in the second round of the FA Cup last night and now face a replay of unbearable tension at Edgar Street against the Blue Square Bet Premier battlers.
Mark Yates' side led for just four first half minutes after Shaun Harrad's strike, with Josh O'Keefe levelling for Hereford in the 20th minute and neither side could find a second breakthrough during a gripping tie.
League Two Cheltenham made the brighter start under the Abbey Business Stadium floodlights, with a cracking atmosphere created by the healthy crowd in attendance.
One-time Robins trialist James Bittner had to be alert to turn a Billy Jones free-kick around the post in the ninth minute and from the resulting corner, Steve Elliott headed Jones' delivery straight at the goalkeeper.
Fit-again Kaid Mohamed, in for the injured Chris Zebroski, forced Bitter into another save three minutes later, but Cheltenham took a deserved lead in the 16th minute.
Marlon Pack's measured through ball invited Jermaine McGlashan to tear past left-back Joe Heath and send over a low cross which was cleverly flicked into the net by Harrad's heel.
It was the on-loan striker's first goal since September 18 and his sixth since arriving from Bury for the season.
The trickery and pace of McGlashan continued to cause major problems for Heath and another accurate cross was glanced wide by Jake Taylor.
Hereford then stunned the home crowd by levelling the scores in the 20th minute.
Player of the first round Ryan Bowman's cross was met by midfielder O'Keefe whose first effort was parried by Scott Brown.
But the ball fell straight to O'Keefe, who made no mistake at the second time of asking.
The end-to-end action went on, with Mohamed going close with a low shot and Harry Pell driving over for the non-Leaguers. Pell was an influential figure in the middle of the pitch, where Cheltenham struggled to contain him.
Darren Carter saw a curling attempt plucked out of the air by Bittner, but he and Pack were guilty of overcomplicating things at times, with several searching balls going astray.
McGlashan went down in the box, but muted appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Craig Pawson and Mohamed saw a shot from Jones' corner blocked before firing his second effort over the bar.
Hereford put together one of the best passing moves of the first half in the final minute before the break, with ex-Robin Brian Smikle and Pell involved, but Alan Bennett made a timely interception to avert the danger.
Sam Clucas then nodded a cross from Smikle wide as an entertaining 45 minutes drew to a close with the tie delicately poised.
Goalmouth action was scarce early in the second half despite Cheltenham enjoying more possession.
It was not until Clucas raced onto Bowman's ball in the 68th minute that either side seriously threatened. The winger's shot flashed wide of the near post and almost immediately Mohamed shot at Bittner.
Brown turned over a fierce drive from Will Evans in the 71st minute an Bittner did well to keep out Mohamed's shot as the teams continued to trade blows, but to no avail and Cheltenham's long, long wait for a home win over Hereford dating back to 1969 drags on.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; K Lowe, A Bennett, S Elliott, B Jones; J McGlashan (S Deering 79), M Pack, J Taylor (J Goulding 59), D Carter (R Penn 59), K Mohamed; S Harrad. Subs not used: D Duffy, C Roberts, L D'Ath.
HEREFORD UNITED: J Bittner; A Gallinagh, S Stam, L Graham, J Heath; B Smikle (P Marsh 78), H Pell, W Evans, J O'Keefe, S Clucas; R Bowman. Subs not used: S Clist, D Hanford, J McQuilkin, K Perry.
REFEREE: C Pawson.
ATTENDANCE: 5,070 (1,336 away).
STAR MAN: Steve Elliott.