Step for­ward Duff happy with clean sheet on the road

Gloucestershire Echo - - SPORT - Jon PALMER gloslives­[email protected]­plc.com

MICHAEL Duff said Chel­tenham Town’s 0-0 draw at More­cambe on Satur­day was a step in the right di­rec­tion given their pre­vi­ous tra­vails on the road.

The Robins were the bet­ter side for much of the game at the Globe Arena, where they lost 4-0 in the penul­ti­mate away game of last sea­son.

But they could find a win­ning goal and had to set­tle with a draw - thanks to their first away clean sheet of the cal­en­dar year 2019, and only their fourth on the road since the start of last sea­son.

“It’s one more point than we nor­mally get away from home,” smiled Duff af­ter­wards.

“I thought first half we were the much bet­ter team, get­ting into good ar­eas and a lit­tle bit more qual­ity is all we needed to make the keeper work.

“Gav (Reilly) had one un­be­liev­able chance that just didn’t drop for him and that summed us up in front of goal.

“We moved the ball well and they had to change their shape be­cause they couldn’t cope with us.

“It was just that last 20 yards of the pitch that we couldn’t quite find the cross.

“It shows we can get into those ar­eas and we’ve shown the two sides to us, we can find that end prod­uct, but to­day we didn’t quite, but we were in con­trol for most of the game.

“The sec­ond half got a bit scrappy, but I didn’t feel that threat­ened at any point and to­wards the end there was only go­ing to be one team who were go­ing to score and that was us.

“We have had two away games and at Ley­ton Ori­ent we looked com­fort­able for 70 min­utes un­til the ref­eree got in­volved and we looked com­fort­able to­day, so it’s pos­i­tive signs.”

Chel­tenham were solid at the back, with goal­keeper Scott Flin­ders mak­ing his first save in the 95th minute.

“I felt that we were in con­trol with­out rip­ping them open or any­thing like that. It was dif­fi­cult in the con­di­tions, be­cause it was blow­ing a gale and the ball held up.

“We kept the ball and moved it well in the first half and maybe it was a 0-0 game, but we def­i­nitely shaded it,” said Duff.

“That is the sort of per­for­mance I want away from home.

“We have talked a lot about hard work, run­ning, blood and guts.

“Yes I want us to play, but I have said to them, ‘do I have to re­mind you to get a clean sheet?’

“It should be a fun­da­men­tal. You should want to run more and com­pete more than your op­po­si­tion num­ber. It doesn’t al­ways work, but it gives you a good chance.

“You can’t al­ways score and par­tic­u­larly if you con­cede. Too many times re­cently...you can’t be hav­ing to score two goals ev­ery away game to try and get a point so it’s a start.

“Hope­fully it’s not a false dawn and we’ll be look­ing to kick on from here.”

With Ro­han Ince sus­pended and Chris Cle­ments ill, Duff fielded a mid­field trio of Ryan Broom with loa­nees Max Sheaf and Jake Doyle-hayes.

Broom put in a man-of-the-match per­for­mance while Villa man Doyle­hayes and Hull’s Sheaf also shone,

be­fore Sheaf went off af­ter feeling his ham­string.

Duff said: “Ryan Broom was ex­cel­lent, as was Jake Doyle-hayes.

“Sheafy was bright but he can’t seem to shake this ham­string thing.

“He hasn’t pulled it, but it’s not quite right and we had to take him off. In the sec­ond half he didn’t af­fect the game as much as he did in the first.

“He showed what he’s about, he can get into pock­ets and beat a man, slip peo­ple in and we still have Chris Cle­ments, Conor Thomas and Ro­han Ince to come in. There is healthy com­pe­ti­tion for places.”

Up front, Luke Var­ney started the game along­side Reilly, but Ge­orge Lloyd came on and did well again.

“He changed the game, if it was go­ing away from us at any point,” Duff said. “The mo­men­tum had maybe slightly swung with them and he came in and af­fected it, wrestling the mo­men­tum back.

“He is what he is, Lloydy, he gives you en­ergy, he is a strong lit­tle lad and al­ways a goal threat.

“He is push­ing for a start. We were dis­ap­pointed when he got in­jured when he did, miss­ing two or three weeks. The fact he was on the bench and first on tells you he is.”

De­spite the in­juries to sev­eral mem­bers of his squad, Duff says he is not ‘ac­tively’ look­ing for new faces.

“I have got cen­tre for­wards, oth­er­wise you are just col­lect­ing peo­ple,” he said.

“We scored four goals last week and we got into good ar­eas. We missed a cou­ple of good chances, so we are not ac­tively look­ing, no.

“Un­less any­thing comes up, we are not search­ing.

“We are look­ing ob­vi­ously, but we are not look­ing to bring a spe­cific po­si­tion in.

“I am happy with what we’ve got. With six or seven first team play­ers miss­ing it’s still a de­cent XI on the pitch.

“Yes we need to cre­ate a bit more. It was more the fi­nal ball, rolling it into some­one’s feet or just taking that bit of a chance. It’s some­thing to work on.”

Ryan Broom had a fine game in mid­field for Chel­tenham

Jake Doyle-hayes chal­lenges More­cambe’s John O’sullivan

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