Robins fly­ing high af­ter four-star vic­tory

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Jon PALMER gloslives­[email protected]­

MICHAEL Duff says his Chel­tenham Town side can com­pete with the best sides in League Two this sea­son.

Chel­tenham beat Steve­nage 4-2 at Whad­don Road on Satur­day as Duff, who cel­e­brated a year in charge on Tues­day, saw his side move up to sixth in the ta­ble.

It is the Robins’ best start to a sea­son n sev­eral years, built mainly on their fine home form which has seen them lose three games on their own soil since Duff took over.

“I think we can com­pete,” Duff said. “The Swin­don game (2-2 draw) was a good barom­e­ter for that and I think they’ll get pro­moted.

“We showed we can com­pete with the bet­ter teams.

“Whether we are good enough to fin­ish any way in and around it, too early to say be­cause the way things are go­ing, next week we’ll get beat and it’ll all be doom and gloom again, based on the pat­tern.

“We need to string bet­ter per­for­mances to­gether and you never know where it might take you.

“It’s im­por­tant we al­ways have that un­der­dog men­tal­ity be­cause we are a small club, whether the sup­port­ers like it or not be­cause that’s how we are per­ceived.

“That’s from the out­side and we are not in­ter­ested in noise from the out­side.

”Let’s just keep giv­ing the play­ers be­lief and hope­fully they’ll pick it up and run with it and you’ll never know where you can go.”

Duff said there is only one se­cret to the promis­ing start to the cam­paign.

“Hard work. Noth­ing else,” he said. “The one thing I can guar­an­tee sup­port­ers is that the play­ers will work hard.

“It doesn’t guar­an­tee you re­sults but we won’t come off it and we’ll fin­ish where we de­serve to fin­ish.

“I have told the play­ers that if they want to do any­thing this year, they need to have that killer in­stinct, that bit more of a streak in­side the team.

“We need to get on at peo­ple con­stantly - that’s the cul­ture, so it is ul­ti­mately down to hard work.

“We have some half de­cent play­ers as well so it’s get­ting them to be­lief that they are good as what the staff think they are.”

The good start has come with sev­eral play­ers un­avail­able - on Satur­day for in­stance Josh De­bayo, Ro­han Ince, Max Sheaf, Jake Doyle-hayes, Will Boyle and Reuben Reid were all in­jured or on in­ter­na­tional duty.

Duff said: “The one thing we told the play­ers was ev­ery­one is here be­cause we want them here.

“The per­for­mances at home have been ex­cel­lent, with Reuben (Reid), Boylo (Will Boyle), Ro­han (Ince) miss­ing, who could be seen as nailed on starters.

“We had a mid­field three who didn’t play in Jake Doyle-hayes, Max Sheaf and Ince and that’s a very good three.

“You can’t get away with just hav­ing a first 11 now, the games come too thick and fast and the game is too quick.

“It’s im­por­tant and it’s not just the 11 who are play­ing, who­ever comes in needs to know their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties so it’s great when it’s go­ing well.

“This time last week I was spew­ing as we’d shot our­selves in the foot.”

Many of the un­avail­able play­ers will be back in the next two or three weeks, but Reid could be longer.

“With the in­jury he’s had, we won’t be able to throw him in any­way,” said Duff.

“I don’t think Gav (Crowe) will let us get our hands on him yet as he’s been out for a long time.

“He needs to build his fit­ness and it might be longer than peo­ple think, based on he has to do a pre-sea­son when he’s fit, as well.

“Of the in­jured play­ers, Max Sheaf is the clos­est.

“Boylo is on the grass. Incey is a cou­ple of weeks away, which we seem to be get­ting quite a few of.

“Reuben ran in train­ing this week, which is a pos­i­tive so that’s a good sign that he’s up to run­ning full body weight as well.

“That’s a pos­i­tive in the back­ground that we are scor­ing all these goals and we still have him to come in and af­fect it.

“We want com­pe­ti­tion for places. When I came in we had too many play­ers at 29.

“We have man­aged to trim it, but we still had a youth team player on the bench to­day, but ob­vi­ously some of that is Chambo (Tom Cham­ber­lain) do­ing well.

“It’s ba­si­cally qual­ity over quan­tity and I think we have that.

“For the level that we are, we are still a small club with a small bud­get, but they are the facts and it’s not an ex­cuse men­tal­ity.

“It’s crack on and see where we go.” The Steve­nage win came 11 months af­ter Duff’s low­est ebb - a 2-0 home de­feat in the fi­nal game be­fore he changed the sys­tem from 4-4-2 to 3-52, which helped change the team’s for­tunes.

“It has be­come a wa­ter­shed mo­ment, that game,” said Duff.

“I said to the play­ers, they beat us twice last sea­son and they bat­tered us.

“They were 2-0, but com­fort­able and we didn’t hurt them in any way.

“They sort of bul­lied us and ran over the top of us.

“We are happy with the progress we’ve made.

“We don’t think we’ve be­come a re­ally good team all of a sud­den.

“We think we can be com­pet­i­tive and that’s the key.”

Pic­tures: Antony Thomp­son - Thou­sand Word Me­dia

Luke Var­ney looks to take on Adam El-abd

Ryan Broom celebrates his goal with Chris Hussey and Conor Thomas

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.