Michael Duff proud of his Cheltenham players after they secure promotion



Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2021 by PA

Michael Duff proud of his Cheltenham players after they secure promotion

Michael Duff said he was immensely proud to lead Cheltenham to League One having helped them win three promotions as a player.

A 1-1 draw at home to Carlisle thanks to Chris Hussey’s fine free-kick leveller was enough to guarantee the Robins a top-three place in League Two for the first time in their history.

“It’s better as manager,” Duff said.

“As a player you are a small cog in a big wheel really, but to be the leader of this group after the disappointment of last year.

“The amount of times we’ve been questioned over the last two years and historically the club has struggled at the wrong end of the table.

“I am immensely proud to be in charge of this mob. Board, players, staff and supporters have all been brilliant.

“I’ve been in football 26 years now, and I’ve had two clubs (Cheltenham and Burnley), so the two of them are close to my heart.

“I married a Cheltenham girl, whose family are all from Cheltenham. All my family have moved to Cheltenham now so it is home.

“You don’t realise how many people know you until you start doing well and people want to say ‘well done’.

“I want to leave the club in a better state than I found it and it’s taken a lot of hard work.”

Hussey’s stunning set-piece strike secured the point Duff’s side required.

They had to hit back from a goal down against the Cumbrians, who needed a win to keep their play-off hopes alive.

The visitors took the lead in the 34th minute when Callum Guy’s pinpoint cross was headed into the top right corner by Joshua Kayode for his eighth of the season.

Cheltenham failed to test goalkeeper Magnus Norman in the first half and Duff responded by sending on Alfie May in place of George Lloyd at the break.

The leveller came after Reading loanee Sam Smith was fouled by Nick Anderson on the edge of the box in the 56th minute.

Hussey dispatched the set-piece expertly for his first goal of the season and it was enough to book a return to the third tier after a 12-year absence.

Cheltenham nearly won it through Matty Blair, whose low shot was well saved by Norman in the 78th minute, but Kayode saw another header crash against the bar late on for Carlisle as it finished all square.

Carlisle boss Chris Beech felt his side deserved to win and said missing out on a play-off place was a bitter blow.

“I’m gutted for the players. Tonight’s the night when they realise they can’t get what they’ve worked so hard for, for eight months,” he said.

“We shouldn’t get criticised. I’m so ambitious and hungry, but these players deserve so much credit for the way they have represented the club.

“Cheltenham have seasoned pros and when I shook each of my players’ hands in the dressing room after the game, I saw lots of them in their first season.

“Well done to Cheltenham, the manager, the staff and players. They deserve their success, but we deserved to win tonight. We haven’t though and we’ve got to respect the opponent.”

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