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How Cheltenham Town went from relegation battlers to League Two promotion chasers under Michael Duff

One year ago I sat down and wrote an article pondering whether Michael Duff, a Cheltenham Town icon-turned manager, had what it takes to pull the Robins away from the doldrums of the League Two relegation zone.

He passed that test, with a stunning 3-2 comeback win over fellow strugglers Macclesfield, and since then has done something no one could have imagined at the start of the 2019/20 season and put Cheltenham in with a chance of promotion.

The whole atmosphere around the club has changed and it is there for everyone connected with the club to see, the number of people attending home games has increased and along with the 1887 Red Army, the Jonny-Rocks Stadium has become a fortress.

But how exactly has the Northern Irishman, who made over 300 appearances for the Robins, turned Cheltenham from strugglers to challengers.

Keep up to date throughout the day with our live blog from Park Life Sport.

TRANSFERS MADE

Summer arrivals:
Reuben Reid (Forest Green)
Tahvon Campbell (Forest Green)
Reuben Reid (Forest Green)
Rohan Ince (free)
Jacob Greaves (Hull, loan)
Max Sheaf (Hull, loan)
Jake Doyle-Hayes (Aston Villa, loan)
Jonte Smith (Oxford)

January arrivals:
Alfie May (Doncaster)
Owen Evans (Wigan)
Tom Nichols (Bristol Rovers)

CONSISTENCY

Despite a blip in their form during the run up to Christmas, the Robins have been one of the most consistent teams in the division.

Having shown encouraging signs during the back end of last season, when they did enough to finish comfortably above the drop zone, they have managed to carry that over into this season.

They boast the best defensive record having conceded only 27 times in 35 outings, that’s 10 fewer than the second best in the league.

That upturn in form last term came when Duff switched to 3-5-2, and those tactics have been perfected this season with Alfie May admitting: “I know that if you miss a chance, you know you’re going to get a few more.”

With the Robins in touching distance with the top of the table, Michael Duff knows if his players keep doing what they have been doing, a return to League One is possible.

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