The Robins welcomed the return of fans to the Jonny Rocks Stadium with an emphatic 5-3 victory against Exeter, a result which clearly displayed manager Michael Duff’s intentions.
That result was followed up in the league by Saturday’s 0-0 draw away in Salford. A game which Cheltenham dominated but could only come away with a point. The goalless draw was the first time this season that Cheltenham have failed to score away from home, highlighting just how far the side have come.
Fans were somewhat disappointed by the result because the performance presented so many chances which unfortunately couldn’t be converted by the away side.
However, four points from a possible six against two sides that will have their eye on the top of the table this season is still brilliant as Cheltenham continue their fine form in the quest for promotion to League One.
Speaking after the Salford game, manager Michael Duff reflected on the frustrations of the match.
He said: “There is a tinge of frustration, but I am delighted with the performance. I tell the players all the time, you worry about the performances and I'll worry about results. They can't do anything else, but obviously the ball hasn't gone in and it was one of those days. We've hit the crossbar twice and had one off the line. “They are one of the best teams in the league and I've said it at the start of the season, I think they'll get promoted, but we made them look pretty ordinary. They have had to change shape, which tells you everything. There were a lot of good performances.”
He went on to reflect on the two recent results against Salford and Exeter, highlighting how well his side have been playing lately.
“Probably (the best performance so far this season), off the back of last week's performance against Exeter. It shows the level we can get to and the key is doing it every week, that's the difficult part. People might say 'you have to win that' but you don't have to, and I'd take that performance, for the next 29 games, all day.
“Yes, I am always happy with performances like that. There are ifs buts and maybes, but you can do that every game. I will worry about results and I'll take that performance all day. To back up Saturday as well, I was really pleased with that.”
When asked about forward George Lloyd, Duff summed up his attitude on his squad, hinting at constant growth and development to become the very best.
“Lloydy had a chat with me in the summer and was open about things, in terms of having a stalled season, coasting and being happy to be a footballer, he didn't do enough, pull people for extras or work hard enough on his game. You can't fall into the comfort of being a footballer, you need to be constantly striving and people develop at different rates and it's not a straight line. He's been in the youth team, gone to Hereford, had a stall and now he looks like he's kicked on again. We see him every day in training and we know the quality he’s got. He needs to add more in terms of numbers, and he knows that, but he's hit the bar, forced a save and there are loads of other examples of how he could have more goals, but performances is what we're after. If he keeps doing that, the goals will come.”
Cheltenham gear up for their next fixture now when they face Barrow away in the League, as a busy Christmas period awaits. It will be important for Michael Duff’s players to keep themselves fit and ready for action as each game over the next month will require everything they have as they look to keep the momentum going.