Michael Duff expecting tough season for Cheltenham after opening draw with Crewe



Posted Sunday, August 08, 2021 by PA

Michael Duff expecting tough season for Cheltenham after opening draw with Crewe

Michael Duff expects Cheltenham to have some tough days ahead during their first League One campaign in 12 years.

But the Robins started off with a point from a 1-1 draw at Crewe after Andy Williams and Mikael Mandron traded first-half goals.

Loyalty to the squad which won the League Two title last term and a lack of resources has meant Duff has not been the busiest manager in this summer’s transfer market.

But he said: “We genuinely believe in this group of players and it is not a case that we can’t get anyone else in. Our togetherness has served us well for two years and adding a bit of quality, such as Callum Wright (on loan from Leicester), will help us too.

“But we know we’re going to be up against it. We don’t have a lot of money, we’re a small team, which is not an excuse, but it is going to be a challenge.

“Our commitment and shape was good today and I think we might catch a few teams on the hop this season with them thinking it’s ‘little old Cheltenham Town’.

“Andy (Williams) was brilliant for us, his hold-up play was good and there was not a lot more he could have done.”

Although, he did waste an early shooting chance he lifted well over when well placed, Williams showed a predatory instinct to pounce on Donervon Daniels’ dreadful backpass to net Cheltenham’s 40th-minute equaliser.

The striker slid in ahead of goalkeeper Dave Richards after the centre-half’s pass arced dangerously across the six-yard box.

A neat interchange between Josh Lundstram and Mandron saw Crewe take a 28th-minute lead with Mandron turning on the midfielder’s pass, faking to shoot into the near corner before sweeping the ball in at the far post.

Neither side could find the quality to hit a decisive blow in the second half, although Alfie May was thwarted twice in quick succession by Richards.

Crewe’s preparations for the opener were hit by the withdrawal of Charlie Kirk and Tommie Hoban, while boss Dave Artell was reluctant to go into details it is understood attacker Kirk is set to join League One rivals Charlton.

Artell said: “It’s been a tough week. Once everything is sorted out we will make an announcement, but nothing has happened yet.

“I didn’t think we deserved to win the game, it was just about a fair result. For large parts of the game we were battling against ourselves.

“There was a bit of doom and gloom in the dressing room afterwards, but it’s a point on the board so we’re one point better off than we were this time last season. Hopefully we can go on to perform better.

“There wasn’t a lot of fluidity and we’ve got quite a few new faces apart from the new signings – Josh Lundstram and Rio Adebisi haven’t played a lot. But the vast majority of them performed admirably – although we have got some work to do.”

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