» Robins rediscover that winning feeling
CHELTENHAM Town manager Michael Duff called for more consistency and belief from his players against stronger teams after they edged further away from the League Two drop zone.
A 2-0 win at home to Cambridge United – thanks to goals from an own goal and a penalty from Conor Thomas – came without defensive midfielder Jordan Tillson and leading scorer Luke Varney through injury.
And it lifts them back above their opponents and nine points clear of the bottom two.
It continues an excellent record against the teams around them in the table.
Duff said: “The reason we are in and around them is we need to show more consistency and belief when we play against the better teams.
“There are some good players in there, but they need to show that and believe in themselves a bit more and bring it out in each other.
“You should have more freedom playing against the so-called better teams, but we sometimes take a backward step, have a look at teams and realise they are not all that, but we are 1-0 down at that moment.
“The real pressure games, like the last three home games is when we deliver good performances.
“It’s a strange one, a mentality thing and a little bit more belief with each other.”
Duff agreed that winning without Tillson and Varney – neither of whom he expects to be fit for Saturday’s visit of Port Vale – should give confidence to the rest of the squad.
He said: “Luke being the age that he is, he felt his hamstring and made the right decision to come off against Grimsby when he did.
“Jordan Tillson was excellent on Saturday, delivering what we want from him, that bit of steel.
“It’s always opportunities for others. Kevin Dawson has come into the team and done well. He gives us good energy, good legs, breaks things up, plays forward.
“He’s different to Chris Clements, who will sit, but pass it more.
“They all have their own individual attributes so it’s up to us as a staff to decide what team plays based on who are playing, who is on form and who is injured.
“It’s not just a case of keeping the same team on Saturday because we won. It’s not always that easy.”
Duff praised Will Boyle’s impact on his return to the side.
“He’s done well,” said Duff. “There was a lot of leg work in that game because of the way they played.
“The back five had to shuffle and shift quickly across the pitch. He’s only done a week’s training and played no minutes of football, so to get through that was pleased.
“Chris Hussey was under the weather today and cramping up at the end, but he got through it.
“He half asked if he could come off with 10 minutes to go, but I said no.”
Duff continued: “That’s what you want, good performances are normally based on physicality and you come in with your lungs coming out of your mouth because you are blowing.
They are your best games, sweat on the shirt. Then you add your technical and tactical ability into that as well.
“Sometimes you walk off the pitch and think you could have done more physically. It often correlates that when you run around a lot, you play better.”
Sean Long was also on the bench after injury after being left out of the reserve team’s win over Forest Green.
“It’s a difficult one for Longy as he probably needed to play in the reserve team game, but we needed him for this game,” said Duff.
“He’s trained for three,three-and-ahalf weeks, every day so it’s just more match minutes.
“If we needed to put him for the last 20 or 25 minutes, we would have done.”
Duff was unsure why Thomas handed over penalty duties to Billy Waters whoe skied a second spot kick over the
“I have no idea” he said. “We have just had a chat with him in there and he’s desperate to get off the mark, but he’s done his bit by winning the penalty. Then let the penalty taker it.
“It’s all right now as it’s 2-0 and it’s not cost us.
“It’s understandable a centre forward seeing it as an opportunity to score and at 2-0 he maybe thought it was a freebie, but Scott (Flinders) has had to make a decent save just after that so if he’d missed that and they’d scored it would have been hairy scary, but I thought Billy’s overall contribution was excellent.
“Billy didn’t step up thinking he was going to miss it. He’s a centre forward who has taken penalties before.
“Conor is the penalty taker, but if someone else stepped up and said they wanted to take it, it’s a difficult one for me to get involved in as I was useless at penalties.
“About 20 years ago I missed one in the same goal, not as bad as that one though.”
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