Preview: Cheltenham Town vs. Birmingham City – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s EFL Cup clash between Cheltenham Town and Birmingham City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Birmingham City will begin their EFL Cup campaign by visiting League One side Cheltenham Town at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Robins were in Shropshire on Saturday afternoon and were unable to commence their third-tier campaign with a win, while Birmingham recorded a respectable draw at Swansea City to kickoff their Championship season.

Match preview

Birmingham City manager John Eustace reacts on March 14, 2023© Reuters

Cheltenham got off to a losing start in League One on the weekend at The Croud Meadow, with a second-half Ryan Bowman goal secruing all three points for Shrewsbury Town.

Since promotion from the fourth tier as champions in 2021, the Robins have finished 15th, 16th and 15th, with the emphasis now on challenging for the top-six finish in a division which has a lot of big hitters.

Former Birmingham midfielder Wade Elliott is currently at the helm at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium – a venue which Cheltenham have not lost a competitive fixture at since a 4-0 thrashing by Barnsley on February 18.

Life without Alfie May could prove to be difficult for the Robins, with one of League One’s top attackers moving to Charlton Athletic after netting 20 third-tier goals in the 2022-23 season.

Tuesday’s hosts have never progressed past the third round of the EFL Cup, and last year’s edition saw Cheltenham fall at the first stage for the first time in three years after they were demolished 7-0 by Exeter City.

Birmingham started a new era under American ownership with a 1-1 draw in South Wales against Swansea City on Saturday, although Blues boss John Eustace claimed his team did more than enough to win the game.

Former Peterborough United winger Siriki Dembele opened his account for the Second City club with a composed finish following tireless pressing from Keshi Anderson and Scott Hogan, however Jerry Yates equalised in the second half for Michael Duff‘s men to force a share of the spoils.

Blues now travel to the Completely-Suzuki Stadium for the second time this summer, with strikes from Anderson, Jordan James and Juninho Bacuna meaning Eustace’s men came out on top during a five-goal friendly match on June 22.

The EFL Cup provided Birmingham with arguably the greatest moment in their history, with Alex McLeish‘s Premier League Blues beating Arsenal in the 2011 final at Wembley courtesy of goals from Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins.

Since that success over 12 years ago, the West Midlands side have used the competition as a way to introduce talented youngsters into the first team, with a certain Jude Bellingham making his senior debut in a first-round tie at Portsmouth back in August 2019.

Cheltenham Town form (all competitions):

Birmingham City form (all competitions):

Team News

Middlesbrough's Ryan Giles in action with Birmingham City's Juninho Bacuna on January 2, 2023© Reuters

Cheltenham are set to be without midfielder Elliot Bonds on Tuesday, with the 23-year-old being forced off at half time on the weekend in the loss at Shrewsbury.

Curtis Thompson was introduced as a result, and the summer signing from Wycombe Wanderers should play alongside James Olayinka and Liam Sercombe in the hosts’ engine room.

The Robins reverted to a back four when pushing for an equaliser at The Croud Meadow on the weekend, however Elliott should select a central-defensive trio of Lewis Freestone, Tom Bradbury and Sean Long for this EFL Cup clash.

Birmingham will make a number of changes from the side who drew in South Wales on Saturday, and some will be enforced, with Ethan Laird and Tyler Roberts both being taken off against Swansea due to knocks.

James was unlucky not to start Blues’ Championship opener following his pre-season performances, however the Wales international should be handed a starting berth in this one.

Eustace opted for a sturdier duo of Ivan Sunjic and Krystian Bielik for the clash against the Swans on the weekend, although the more forward-thinking Bacuna is likely to be in the visitors’ XI as they look to dominate proceedings in Gloucestershire.

Marc Roberts is set to be on the sidelines for a couple of weeks due to a calf strain, meaning Eustace only has Dion Sanderson and Kevin Long as first-team centre-back options for the next three matches at least.

Cheltenham Town possible starting lineup:
Southwood; Long, Bradbury, Freestone; Thompson, Smith, Sercombe, Olayinka, Williams; Street, Keena

Birmingham City possible starting lineup:
Etheridge; Oakley, Long, Sanderson, Longelo; Sunjic, Bacuna, Anderson, James, Miyoshi; Jutkiewicz

SM words green background

We say: Cheltenham Town 1-2 Birmingham City

Cheltenham were unsuccessful during their opening game of the League One season, however an unbeaten home record since February will be hard for Birmingham to break.

Blues travel to face the Robins for the second time in less than a month, and we believe Eustace’s men will have enough quality in their squad on the night to book a place in round two.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:curl

ID:520535:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect13190:

Previews by email

Click here to get Sports Mole‘s daily email of previews and predictions for every major game!