Cheltenham Town rescue mission working for boss Michael Duff ahead of Mansfield Town clash

Michael Duff
Michael Duff

Saturday’s visitors to the One Call Stadium Cheltenham Town have struggled to stay out of the relegation zone for most of the season.

That has been a major disappointment as it was certainly not a relegation budget last summer, so ex-boss Gary Johnson’s recruitment has been seen as poor.

However, Michael Duff has improved things since taking over in September and the Robins now look capable of climbing further away from danger after four home wins in a row.

They have won four of their last six games, though have lost four in a row without scoring away from home since New Year Day’s 4-1 victory at Yeovil Town.

Duff has been excellent so far, inheriting a struggling squad and gradually turning things around, with an 11 point cushion now between Cheltenham and the bottom two.

He’s a level-headed character who has played at the top level for Burnley and Northern Ireland, as well as being a hugely popular player during his eight years as Robins player.

His coaching has been praised as well as his man-management.

If he can keep Cheltenham safe this season, based on what he walked into, it will be a decent achievement in his first taste of management.

Striker Luke Varney remains the Robins’ biggest threat to Mansfield Town.

He is leading scorer with 10 goals and, at 36, is still as fit and hungry as ever - a superb example to the younger players in the squad.

Helping supply him with ammunition, left wing back Chris Hussey, who has superb set piece delivery, is a real attacking threat with his raids down the flank.

Midfielder Nigel Atangana (Achilles) and forward Alex Addai (hamstring) are both long term absentees and likely to miss the rest of the season, but former Lincoln City full-back Sean Long (knee) is working his way back from injury and is close to being considered again.