Cheltenham Town beat League Two leaders Cambridge United 1-0 to take them within two points of the top spot.
Sean Long’s headed finish gave the Robins all three points on their travels, a great return to action after last weekend’s defeat to Bradford City.
There were further injury concerns for Michael Duff as defender Chris Hussey was taken off injured in the second half, and Charlie Raglan missed the game completely due to a back injury.
Duff was delighted with his side’s result. He said: “Coming away to the team top of the league with the best home record in the league after a poor performance, I said after Saturday's game, it's sometimes hard and players forget the detail in how we try and work. Because the games are so relentless, it can come away.
“On Monday morning, we just showed them certain things about the way we want them to work and if it unravels in the performance because they are not running as hard, not nicking yards as a group properly, not competing and taking responsibility, it leads to two poor goals. We didn't deserve anything out of the game on Saturday. Sometimes you need a little bit of a reminder and the players knew they had to be at it today because they knew Cambridge are a very good team. Particularly with the players we have missing. Credit to the players who have come into the team. I say it all the time and they need to trust us when we say football changes quickly.”
There were a few close moments for Cambridge, they came close with a free kick and were denied by a Ben Tozer goal-line clearance Duff was pleased with the determination from his captain and team to win every ball and make each moment count.
He continued: “We got away with one with the free-kick, but I am not sure we've had a lot of luck this season. The second one was good defending. People say he has to score, but it was good defending. Josh (Griffiths) got them out of the mire with the first contact and Toze (Ben Tozer) has done his job, which is keeping the ball out of the net. I think that is good defending. Second half they had a few knockdowns, but we had a few chances ourselves. It was never going to be a real game of quality because the pitch is difficult, but you have to find different ways of winning and that was a good solid away performance in my opinion.
“It was blowing a gale and most of the game was taking part in that one far half of the pitch because of the conditions, and it was really hard to get out. Without being free-flowing, it was a dogged, solid away performance.”
Sean Long returned to the starting line-up for the first time this campaign after injury, and it was his header which made all the difference. Amongst the mounting injuries, Duff highlighted the importance of other players stepping up and playing their part.
He said: “It's what we've just said to the young lads. You might think you're never going to get your chance, but when you do you have to be ready. The way Sean lives his life, he lives clean, his diet is good, he does extras in the gym. Sometimes it becomes a job when you are not playing, but they are the hours you do when nobody else is watching and they'll pay you back with those types of performances. He's been unlucky and he's had 18 months injured out of two and half years here. It's why you have a squad, we always thought he was a good player, which is why he played every week last season in a team that finished fourth.”