Cheltenham Town beat top of the table Portsmouth 2-1 in a battling display.
Liam Sercombe’s two goals came straight after an own goal from Tom Bradbury, a superb reaction to going behind and enough in the end to give Cheltenham all three points.
The win doesn’t move Cheltenham any closer to League One safety but could be a key result against a team at the top of the league, who at times showed their class and comfort on the ball, looking like they could turn the screw on Cheltenham at any time.
The Robins dug deep and fought for every header and loose ball and ended up coming out on top, setting the tone for games to come.
The victory rounded off a tough group of fixtures over the festive period; Robins fans will believe victory against Portsmouth was deserved after dropping points despite an excellent first- half performance against Reading.
The form table is currently looking good for Cheltenham but they need to keep kicking on if they are to avoid relegation.
One notable step up recently has been George Lloyd, the forward has carried himself excellently putting in 10/10 for effort every single time he pulls on the shirt.
After the game manager Darrell Clarke spoke of his pride in his players. He said: “It’s just about the ‘W’ isn’t it. It doesn’t matter how you get it. We’ve come from behind a couple of times now and that gives the lads confidence to know that when we do go a goal down, which will happen between now and the end of the season without doubt, we can respond in the right way, and we did that.”
Liam Sercombe netted a brace for the first time in his Cheltenham career, and Clarke praised another quality performance from one of the club’s best servants.
He continued: “Sercs (Liam Sercombe) has done that all his career. He knows where the back of the net is. Two great goals. I brought him off just to shore it up with Thommo (Curtis Thompson), with a bit more grit in midfield. But he was excellent, did his job; ‘come and sit with me Sercs – two brilliant goals mate!’ He is leading by example and the senior boys out there carried the team through today – excellent.
“We know we need to get better as well. There are loads of areas of our game we can get better. We are trying to be competitive in every game we play, but there’s still loads of work to be doing on the training pitch to be the side I eventually want us to be.
“I wasn’t happy after Northampton because we had opportunities in the final third to be better than we showed. I was more frustrated, not for a lack of effort or application or anything like that. It was that little bit of quality I was getting frustrated with because I thought the game was there to be won. We ended up chucking the points away with a rash decision by one of my defenders, but then you are looking for that response and the boys have done that.”
Cheltenham Town assistant manager Adam Murray recently left the club, at a difficult time, so Clarke is on the lookout for a new assistant to help guide his side.
Clarke continued: “Like I said before. Adam (Murray) is a great lad and he’s moved on for another opportunity. I have a really good staff here. Inexperienced, but hungry and they can’t give me any more and I am trying to add to that. It’ll take as long as it takes. I want to get the right person. A lot of people have been picking the phone up and sending me their CVs, which is fine. I will narrow it down and interview two or three for it. It has to be the fit I am after, and I am very fussy.”
Overall, the performance was solid from Cheltenham with a team with injuries and players missing. Clarke’s men made the most and earned an important three points.
Clarke concluded: “It was a tough watch because they were piling men forward, they made attacking changes and they were putting a lot of balls in our box. I am delighted that the boys held on. We had the Leyton Orient game, where we cruelly got denied in the last five minutes when we had 10 men for a lot of the game. It was biting the old fingernails, but we got there in the end.”