My Cheltenham team is best club have ever had, says Michael Duff



Posted Sunday, April 10, 2022 by PA

My Cheltenham team is best club have ever had, says Michael Duff

Michael Duff hailed his Cheltenham team as the best in the club’s history after their 1-0 home win over Portsmouth.

Liam Sercombe scored the only goal of the game to keep the Robins in the top half of the League One table with four games left.

Victory kept Duff’s men firmly on course to beat the club’s highest finish of 17th place in the third tier, with last year’s League Two champions also now mathematically safe.

“The things that this group keeps doing shouldn’t surprise anybody now,” the manager said.

“In my opinion it’s the best team this football club has ever had and the stats will probably show you that.

“Look at the players we are leaving out today and that tells you everything.

“They deserve all the credit, but don’t rest on your laurels, go again.

“We’ve never beaten Portsmouth, so that’s another piece of history. These are all good markers and it won’t last forever, it never does.

“Enjoy it while we can and don’t take things for granted. Don’t think we are a mid-table League One team now because we are not.”

Midfielder Sercombe struck in the 76th minute. Kion Etete held the ball up and found Callum Wright, who teed up Sercombe to finish past Gavin Bazunu.

Defeat was enough to extinguish any faint hopes Danny Cowley’s Pompey side had of mounting a late play-off push.

Both teams had chances to take the lead before the breakthrough game, with both goalkeepers pulling off outstanding saves in the second period.

Bazunu produced a brilliant diving stop to keep out Wright’s 25-yard drive, which had looked destined for the top right corner, in the 73rd minute.

And just four minutes earlier Owen Evans had reacted superbly to turn Michael Jacobs’ effort over the bar.

Jacobs was denied by Evans again in the 84th minute to ensure Cheltenham took the spoils.

Cowley branded his side’s second-half performance “incredibly disappointing” and “unacceptable”.

He said: “I felt we had a good place in the game in the first half, tactically, and we turned them over maybe 10 or 11 times in their own half, but we lacked a bit of quality in most of those moments.

“Second half, we were well short in the pre-requisites of energy and intensity and quality.

“We had enough moments in the first half and we know here, on a tight pitch, the first goal is very important and we should have found it.

“We had a penalty not given but we had chances to take that lead. Leading up to the goal they got a bit of momentum and we showed no substance or character to overcome that.

“We didn’t show the tactical intelligence to slow it down, break it up and maybe get some control back. You could feel the goal coming.”

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