‘They were good, we weren’t’- Cheltenham boss on Port Vale draw


Cheltenham manager Michael Duff was happy to take a point after his team found life tough against Port Vale in the goalless draw at Whaddon Road.

Duff’s side went into the game on a run of five straight wins, but didn’t look like making that six.

He gave credit to eighth placed Vale, but said his own team have to be better.

He told Gloucestershire Live: “We didn’t pass the ball at all and it didn’t look like us. We looked slow, lethargic and the centre forwards were starved of the ball all game.

“But the sign of a decent team is that you can grind a result out. It’s another clean sheet, 27 goals conceded in 36 games and it keeps you in with a chance. We know we need to be much better than that. They are a good team, Port Vale, but we need to be better than that.

“Give them credit, I think they (Vale) played well, but they are not affecting whether we pass the ball from A to B, or even trying to pass the ball from A to B.

“We had a 10 minute spell in the first half where we did what we’d worked on, a couple of passes and then a diagonal and we get in. For some reason we tried to hit the diag too early, or we didn’t find the two or three passes. We got caught between a rock and a hard place really. We got a bit muddled up, but while that was all going on, I can’t remember them having many clear cut chances.”

Vale were furious that referee Scott Duncan overturned his own decision to give them a 42nd-minute penalty for Charle Raglan’s challenge on Mitch Clark.

Cheltenham boss Michael Duff (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

However, Duff said: “I know they’ll talk about the penalty, but I think he has made the right decision. He has just got it all wrong, the referee. Our players’ reactions tell you it was a corner, so he has got there.

“John (Askey) will go mad, I am sure he will and I’d do exactly the same because I am not sure how the linesman can see it from 70 yards away. But it wasn’t a penalty in the first place.

“Other than that, Owen (Evans) hasn’t really had a save to make. I know they hit the top of the crossbar but it was never going in. They were good, we weren’t.”

Tom Pope almost won the game with a late diving header but put the difficult chance wide, much to Duff’s relief.

The manager added: “The one thing we do think is that I felt we were waiting to get beaten. We took a backwards step all the time. Every pass was backwards or sideways, we’d have a man tight and the next thing you know we are taking a step back and he’s putting it in the box.

“Normally we are on the front foot, looking to press, on the front foot when we are passing it. I do have a confidence we can keep a clean sheet. Every time the ball goes in the box, with Popey, if it’s any sort of quality, and it doesn’t have to be that much quality, he’s a handful.

“I don’t think he had a sniff because if he was dropping a couple of yards closer he’d have headed it in, but it was never in his heading zone if that makes sense, because it was too wide.”

As for the point overall, he said: “I think Port Vale will finish in the top seven, so it’s important you don’t get beaten by your rivals and we haven’t done today. It’s another point on the board.”

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