» Varney the hero as Robins battle past Yeovil
JON PALMER looks at the talking points from Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Yeovil Town
» Forgettable game, poor performance, vital result
AT this stage of the season, Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff will take narrow wins and clean sheets, however unconvincing his team’s performances may be, if it means they continue to climb further away from the bottom two.
They were second best for long periods against a Yeovil team muchimproved from their 4-1 home drubbing at the hands of Duff’s team on New Year’s Day.
But for the second match running, Cheltenham’s opponents had a man sent off in the first half and the home side did just enough to secure a valuable three points.
The result moved them back up to 18th, eight points clear of 23rd placed Macclesfield Town with a game in hand.
Duff believes 52 points will be enough to guarantee survival, leaving them with 17 points to collect in their remaining 16 games.
They may have to improve on Tuesday night’s overall display to make absolutely sure, but the grit they showed to grind out a result in awful conditions suggests they should be able to breathe a little easier going into the final weeks of the season.
» Luke Varney provides another moment of quality
VARNEY’S acrobatic effort from a Ryan Broom cross sparked Cheltenham’s comeback from 2-0 down to defeat Macclesfield Town 3-2 in the last home game.
On this occasion his 59th minute strike was enough on its own, with another Broom cross cleared to him just inside the penalty area.
He took a touch, leaned back and found the top right corner of the net, making it nine for the season.
Varney was a free agent before becoming Duff’s first signing as man- ager at the end of September.
His finishing ability, intelligence and fitness levels are making him an out- standing acquisition and if Chelten- ham do survive this season, Varney will have played a key role, both with his performances on the pitch and his influence off it.
» Half-time change has positive effect KEVIN Dawson has played a major part in Cheltenham’s last two victories over relegation rivals, going on in the 38th minute for the injured Jordon Forster against Macclesfield and playing a major part in the stirring second half display.
The midfielder replaced Forster again, this time in a purely tactical move against Yeovil and made another positive impact.
Dawson has made seven substitute appearances in League Two along with one Checkatrade Trophy start since returning from two months on the sidelines with a medial ligament injury.
The Irishman must now be close to earning a place in the team as his full match sharpness returns.
With the January additions and Sean Long and Will Boyle closing in on their returns to fitness, Duff has plenty of options all over the pitch.
» Two encouraging debuts JORDAN Tillson operated in a deep lying midfield role on his Cheltenham debut.
The loan signing from Exeter City grew into the game, keeping things simple and making some important interventions in front of the backline
during the second half as Yeovil looked for a leveller.
Goalkeeper Scott Flinders had an extremely quiet night, apart from one save at his near post and picking the ball out of his net three times after goals were ruled out.
One was for an infringement spotted by referee Tim Robinson as Tom James fired in a superb free-kick after six minutes and front man Alex Fisher saw two more chalked off due to an offside flag before half-time.
James may have taken some of his frustration out on Alex Addai, lunging at the Robins forward on the edge of the box in the 21st minute and being shown a straight red card.
Under pressure Yeovil boss Darren Way was also sent to the stands due to
his protests over the dismissal, the first red card of his career as a player or manager.
Addai later hobbled off with a hamstring injury after an attempted backheel backfired and he was replaced by Rakish Bingham in the 37th minute.
Bingham was clearly eager to impress after joining on deadline day and he showed the sort of additional pace Duff was keen to bring in.
Bingham did not manage to cap his first appearance with a goal, but there were encouraging signs and the incentive is there for the ex-hamilton Academical man to earn a longer deal, with his current contract running to the end of the season.
» Pressure lifted ahead of two long away trips
CHELTENHAM still have plenty of work to do, but back-to-back home wins over teams close to them in the table mean they can approach forthcoming trips to Colchester United and Grimsby Town with some of the pressure off.
Three of their next four home games are against other clubs in the lower reaches of the table (Cambridge United, Port Vale and Notts County) and the Robins’ fate is very much in their own hands.
They are two points behind Northampton Town and Crawley Town, in 16th and 17th respectively, with a game in hand on both, and eight clear of 23rd-placed Macclesfield.
Northampton boss Curle was the man seriously considered for the job at Cheltenham before it was given to Duff, who is fully justifying the decision with the work he has done in his first five months in the job.
Luke Varney volleys home the winning goal for Cheltenham
Debutant Jordan Tillson looks to get past ex-robin Craig Alcock
Kevin Dawson came on at half-time