Cheltenham Town have reached the 50-point tally in their League One campaign.
The mark signifies Michael Duff’s first milestone in his bid to secure Cheltenham’s place in this league next season.
50 points puts the Robins top of the bottom half of the table in 13th, a remarkable achievement by Manager Duff and everyone involved with the club.
The fiftieth point was secured in a 3-1 home win against AFC Wimbledon. Wimbledon made it hard work for Cheltenham leading 1-0 for 80 minutes, but three goals from Callum Wright, George Lloyd and Alfie May ensured a great comeback and another three points on the board.
After the match Michael Duff praised his side’s performance and reflected on how important reaching this milestone was for the team.
Duff said: “It’s the golden mark when there are 24 teams in the league. The way the league is it’s hard for the teams at the bottom to pick up consistent wins and there are enough teams below us.
“But there are still things to fight for and the players have challenges they want to do, so it’s just the first marker. We’ll reassess and reset because you don’t want the season to peter out. There are too many things to play for.
“We weren’t brilliant. I thought we didn’t move the ball. I thought it was quite interesting with about 20 minutes to go, our fans started booing us for keeping the ball, which I disagree with because that five-minute spell managed to get them really deep into their half and from that moment they never got out. We got on the front foot and managed to build a bit of momentum, which won us the game eventually.”
Duff continued: “We need to be careful because we are a little club in this league and we can’t be disrespecting opposition. We are trying to keep the ball and play football so I wasn’t sure about that.
“We have the 23rd biggest budget in the league. We try and play the right way and that’s what we were trying to do. First half, I’d have played that type of football, but we couldn’t get the players to do it. You have bad days. We have played badly and won against a team scrapping for their life. They aren’t just going to come here and roll over. We have just gone 12 games without a win and you are scrapping and scrapping to try and find that win. We gave them something to hold on to, so it’s a real sign of progress. We had that togetherness and nobody turned on each other, they all stuck to the process of how we want to work. “The beauty of football is that there is always two halves. We knew we couldn’t be as bad in the second half as we were in the first and we weren’t brilliant in the second either, but we had a good last 10 minutes. The three subs definitely made an impact and the three subs could have been anyone from the 11 on the pitch, but three came on and impacted the game. Callum (Wright) sniffed out a goal and then obviously we went on to win it.”
Losing at half time usually leads to some inspirational words from a Manager, and Duff spoke of how he approaches the dressing room with a squad he has worked closely with to build up a strong relationship.
He continued: “The days of tea pot throwing are over. You raise your voice every now and then, but I don’t question the group in terms of their mentality, and I don’t think they deliberately were disrespectful to Wimbledon, thinking it’d be easy because they were burned by that one against Crewe. Sometimes you have bad days, but I used Matty Blair in the dressing room. Matty was really poor today, but he keeps going and going and he neutralises his opponent. So if he’s not having a good day and he keeps passing it to them and things are bobbling up, because he keeps going, day in, day out, week in, week out in training, he has that one moment of quality that ends up winning us the game. That’s what we ask. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of bad games, but you can still impact the game and that’s one thing our group have done really well. The things that people don’t see, the running hard and the little details, with shape and things like that. That’s what helped them keep themselves in the game and ultimately managed to nick us a win.”
Robins forward George Lloyd was also on the scoresheet at Whaddon Road for the first time in the Football League, and Duff spoke of how good his attitude has been in a tough season.
“He has worked ever so hard and he’s a brilliant kid. It’s not quite worked out for him in terms of games this year because of injury. We wanted him to go and get some games, more goals and games at Port Vale. He was unfortunate with the timing of them having a good run with the centre forward and then he got injured when he did get his chance. He’s had to wait, but I am forever saying it, hard work pays you back. He grinds in the gym and it’s a horrible place to be, the gym. It’s a lonely place, although ours has actually been quite busy this year! He deserves that and I was pleased with the reception he got when he came on and when he got his goal, it was brilliant. It always is when you get a local boy doing well for your local team.
“Supporters are always going to take to that type of player. One that comes through the ranks, and he is a local boy, having grown up in Gloucester. I was really pleased for him.”