Michael Duff hails ‘brilliant achievement’ as Cheltenham seal League Two title



Posted Sunday, May 09, 2021 by PA

Michael Duff hails ‘brilliant achievement’ as Cheltenham seal League Two title

Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff praised his history makers after seeing his players wrap up the League Two title in style.

The Robins had already clinched promotion but a 4-1 win over Harrogate ensured they finished top of the pile.

“I said it last week in terms of realising what they’ve achieved and I think it’s starting to sink in now, what they’ve actually done,” Duff said.

“The tinge of disappointment is supporters not being here.

“In 134 years the club hasn’t been (automatically) promoted, they’ve broken the points record, crowned champions and have probably had the biggest game in the club’s history with Man City. They deserve every bit of credit they get and they deserve to get very drunk tonight.

“Today, rounding it off the way we did, we could have scored seven or eight. We did every part of the game, first 10 minutes aside. We looked a threat from set-plays and could have scored from nearly every corner.

“It’s a brilliant achievement, I’m really proud. The lads have made history.”

The Robins made a nervy start on their big day, falling behind to a seventh-minute Jack Muldoon strike. But for the remainder of the half Duff’s side dominated to open up a two-goal lead at the break.

Liam Sercombe levelled after 11 minutes with a shot that slipped through the fingers of Harrogate keeper Joe Cracknell before Sam Smith fired his side into a 22nd-minute lead with a fierce close-range volley.

Alfie May added a third after 34 minutes following a goalmouth scramble before Cheltenham keeper Josh Griffiths pulled off an excellent save to keep out a Matty Blair header angled towards his own goal.

The game was over as a contest after 56 minutes when Callum Wright drilled past keeper Cracknell.

Harrogate’s Jon Stead, playing his 700th professional game, was applauded by players, officials and coaches when he was substituted late in the game before the title celebrations started on the final whistle.

Harrogate boss Simon Weaver paid tribute to the league champions and flagged up some shortcomings for his own side.

He said: “We have to congratulate Cheltenham. They’ve had a fantastic season and the manager has done a marvellous job in getting them over the line.

“They’ve won the title today and thoroughly deserve it over the course of the season as they’ve been the best team in the league.

“It was a bit crazy as a game in that first half and today we have created a fair amount of chances against the team that has won the title. But the stats don’t lie and we have conceded too many goals this season.

“Today was another example – they scored four and it could have been many more.

“It’s disappointing to go out on a whimper but it would be a bit short-sighted to concentrate on today.”

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