Cheltenham Town Manager Michael Duff has declared his side “control
their own destiny” after a superb home win against play-off chasing Salford.
Goals from Sean Long and Liam Sercombe helped the Robins to a 2-0 win, keeping them top of League Two ahead of Saturday’s trip to Morecombe.
With the business end of the season closing in Duff knows the importance of putting in performances in each and every game, and understands his side need to focus on themselves if they are to achieve promotion.
He said: “The big boys are coming, I think that's fair to say. The big teams in the league are all starting to put runs together. We can't affect anyone else, and our points total will decide where we are. The players don't need to worry about results, they need to worry about performances.”
“My job is to worry about the results. Most of the time they deliver that, when they are as focused as they were today. It's not always the case and it's hard to have that focus all the time because of the relentlessness of the league, but that's how we are working.”
The win against Salford was Cheltenham Town’s 17th clean sheet, and as a former defender it must be pleasing for Michael Duff to see his side preventing goals so effectively.
“We blocked off, the players got in good passing lanes, the back five didn't sit deep and there is always a chance that when you say you are going to sit off, you get 10 men behind the ball and nobody ever puts any pressure on the ball. But there was good pressure and we restricted them in the first half to long, straight balls that went out of play. They brought a big man on at the end, which caused a few problems, but they have not opened us up, which is very pleasing.
“The character in the group speaks for itself. People will get emotional now and after every game we'll either be brilliant, or the worst team in the world. The group know where we're at and what's expected of them, so I've just said to them, enjoy each other's company for the next 10 minutes. That's what happens when you really tune in and focus. That was the main word of the build-up since Tuesday: focus. I thought we looked focused, so we just need to keep churning it out. It isn't even a cliche because we say it all the time because we believe it, is ‘win the next half’. It was the same in the second half today, 2-0 up and it wasn't seeing it out, it was trying to win the half and we had the better chances within it.”
Salford are a team with an eye on the play-offs themselves; they’ve really climbed the league since being taken over by a cohort of ex- Manchester United players, one of which is Gary Neville. He described Cheltenham as the best League Two side he’d seen this season after the sides drew in Salford, and Michael Duff was pleased overall with how his side won against a strong outfit.
Duff said: “It was a good performance and a good result. They are a good team with a good manager. The people they are bringing off the bench are good players. We knew we had to be good today, after Tuesday. We were disappointed with the performance, although not as disappointed as some people may think. You break that game down on chances and we had miles more chances than the opposition. It was just a couple of things in the second half, when they are properly tuned in, and we gave up the ball a bit more today than we normally do. It was a conscious decision that we didn't want to open the pitch up and give them spaces to try and play through you. That's why we camped in and the second goal comes from sitting in and hitting them on the break. They had all the ball in the second half, but we had the two or three big chances in the half. It looked a little bit more like us today.”