Michael Duff wary of Cheltenham’s promotion rivals despite Salford win

Posted Sunday, March 21, 2021 by PA

Michael Duff wary of Cheltenham’s promotion rivals despite Salford win

Cheltenham may have maintained their slender one-point lead at the top of the Sky Bet League Two table with a 2-0 win over Salford, but boss Michael Duff is anxiously looking over his shoulder.

Sean Long headed in a trademark Ben Tozer long throw inside three minutes to hand Cheltenham the perfect start, with Liam Sercombe doubling the lead before half-time after visiting goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky could only parry Matty Blair’s low cross into the midfielder’s path.

There could have been more for the hosts, with Alfie May chipping a first-half effort just wide, while strike partner Sam Smith forced Hladky into a save on the hour.

“The big teams in the league are all starting to put runs together,” said Duff.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

Towering striker Emmanuel Dieseruvwe was one of three half-time changes for the visitors and he thought he had halved Cheltenham’s lead on 72 minutes when he spectacularly fired home from close range only for the effort to be disallowed as team-mate Ian Henderson had strayed offside.

Disappointed Salford boss Richie Wellens admitted his side paid the price for a dismal first-half showing and deserved nothing from the game.

He said: “We started really badly and never really recovered. We made three subs at half-time. They made an impact and we improved, but the ship had already sailed.

“At the minute we are nowhere near it. We’ve not scored goals – we’ve created loads of chances in the last five or six games but our goals return has been very poor. Our strikers need to step up. If we don’t win games then we won’t achieve anything.

“It is the manner of the defeat which is really worrying. We have lost games before when we have been good and not taken chances and been unfortunate. Today we’ve not deserved anything.”


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