When Cheltenham Town lost that play-off semi-final last season to Northampton Town having been in a commanding position, it would of been easy for the club to dwell on that and struggle this campaign. However, they have used that as motivation to secure their first ever automatic promotion as a football league club in their 134 year history.
Michael Duff has finally delivered promotion with the club progressing with each season he has been in charge of the Robins. They secured a famous promotion with two games to spare and now have the League Two title in their own hands.
The efficient Robins have been excellent all season and the title would be a crowning testament to their achievements. A team all pulling in the same direction will have one eye on next season but the focus will firmly be on collecting a trophy.
Cheltenham Town Secure First Ever Automatic Football League Promotion
They Return to League One for the First Time in 12 Years
The Robins have been impressive all season and have continuously progressed under Michael Duff’s leadership. He now has a promotion to warrant all his hard work. Duff has created an efficient team full of style and a good mix of experience and young talent.
Cheltenham are no strangers to League One having progressed to the third tier via two play-off final victories. However, it will be their first time in League One since their relegation in 2009. They were stable in the third tier but that relegation saw them fall further down the football pyramid, eventually returning to the football league in 2016 after a record breaking season in the National League.
Stability has followed in League Two, but now the club have shown progression. That progression could be crowned with a first football league title if they win their final two league games against Newport County and Harrogate Town. Regardless of whether they win the title, its been a terrific season which even saw them go toe to toe with Manchester City in the FA Cup. They were excellent that night and battled valiantly but the quality of the Premier League side eventually shone through.
The confidence in that performance has certainly resonated in their league performances. There is a real belief around the whole football club and the promotion is the highlight of a tremendous campaign.
12 Wins From the last 19 League Games Sealed Promotion
Cheltenham knew after last season’s collapse and heartache, they needed to secure promotion automatically. They have done with games to spare and an excellent sequence of results. Impressively, the Robins haven’t been out of League Two’s top seven since the beginning of October.
The Robins have won 12 of their last 19 league games, collecting 39 points – only Bolton Wanderers have collected more points in that time. Cheltenham have picked up key victories against promotion rivals including Cambridge United and Tranmere Rovers.
Michael Duff relies on his defence to deliver and they generally do. His back three system with flying wing backs suits the players perfectly. Ben Tozer, Will Boyle and Charlie Raglan have formed an excellent partnership while Chris Hussey and Sean Long have been brilliant at wing back. 11 of their last 13 league wins have come with clean sheets with only Port Vale and Walsall managing to find a way past them.
While goals don’t necessarily flow, the ones they do score generally have meaning and, crucially, points. Cheltenham’s last three league wins have all finished 1-0. 15 of their 23 league wins have seen Cheltenham score more than once but six of their 11 league defeats has seen the Robins fail to find the net.
They are very much a collective. Cheltenham spread responsibilities around with goals spread across the team. Veteran striker Andy Williams is their top scorer with eight and now has consecutive promotions on his CV.
However, their most lethal weapon is the long throw of captain Ben Tozer. Amazingly, he has seven assists this season from that but has plenty more contributions with his throw reeking havoc in League Two penalty boxes this season.
Their run to promotion has been strong and now two more wins brings further glory. They firmly stepped up a gear in the business end of the season.
Cheltenham Have Been Excellent Home and Away This Season
Unsurprisingly, the Robins have been very good both home and away this season. Michael Duff’s style of play has allowed them to show their quality at the Jonny Rocks Stadium as well as on the road.
They have the joint best home record in League Two alongside four other clubs with 41 points from their 22 home matches. Only five sides have walked away from Gloucestershire with maximum points.
Cheltenham Town are tough to beat on their own patch and are unbeaten in five, winning the previous four until their draw with Carlisle United. They are in the top five for most home goals scored and top five for least goals conceded. Only Salford City have lost fewer home games than the Robins and this has certainly been the bedrock to their success.
As well as performing well at home, the Robins are also doing well on their travels. Only second place Cambridge United have a better away record, collecting 39 points. Their away performances have emphasised their efficiency under Michael Duff.
The Robins have scored just 24 away goals this season. To put that into perspective, mid table sides Oldham Athletic, Port Vale and Bradford City have scored more as have strugglers Walsall.
But while scores are short, they are very good at keeping them out. No side in League Two has a better away defence than Cheltenham Town– they have conceded just 17 goals on their travels this season.
The Robins have kept 11 clean sheets on the road including shut outs in their opening three away games. The unlikeliest of scorers in Port Vale’s Leon Legge broke that sequence. But take nothing away from them, they have been a tough nut to crack on the road.
Excellent form both home and away has unsurprisingly led to success. Something they will hope to carry into League One.
A Terrific Season Which Provides the Perfect Platform for Cheltenham Town to Continue Success in League One
Its been a season to remember for the Robins. A first ever automatic promotion in the football League secured and a chance of silverware which is in their own hands.
Michael Duff has built a team to be proud of and they will relish welcoming back the fans next season. Duff will be determined to keep the core of this team together as they gear up for a return to League One.
This season certainly provides a positive platform for the Robins to assert themselves in League One. They will maintain their traits which has yielded success and they will give plenty of teams a game next season.
It’s been a tremendous season and one the fans and the city of Cheltenham Town will never forget. Michael Duff continues to do a terrific job and he and his players will relish the challenge that is League One.
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