“We Could Do A Lot Better” – Cheltenham Town Boss Critical Despite Win

Cheltenham Town manager Darrell Clarke was delighted with his side’s 3-2 win at home to his former employers Port Vale on Saturday afternoon.

The Robins have now won three on the bounce since losing to Wycombe Wanderers at the beginning of February, taking them to 21st in the League One table.

Despite still being in the relegation zone, the home side now sit just one behind Charlton Athletic and potential safety. They also have two games in hand on the struggling Londoners, who have not won since late November.

Matty Taylor, Will Ferry and Jack Shepherd were all on the scoresheet for the impressive Gloucestershire-based side. Nathan Smith and a Curtis Davies own goal hit back for the visitors, who were attempting to impress their new gaffer, ex-Huddersfield Town manager Darren Moore.

Cheltenham had a busy January transfer window, signing eight new players, including the likes of Matty Taylor, Josh Harrop and Liam Kinsella. Taylor, Joe Nuttall, Jack Shepherd and Jordan Thomas all joined on deadline day as Clarke took every chance he could to maximise the window.

Speaking to Gloucestershire Live after the latest victory, Clarke said:

“I enjoyed a lot about our performance, to come from behind twice in the game was testament to the character of the group. It’s in a strong place at the minute.

“We’ve had a really fantastic week, but that’s all it’s been. We now have to recharge, get all our batteries together, have a good reset and build into next week.

“But nine points in a week with the situation we are in ourselves has been a good week and we have to enjoy moments like that because it’s a big nine points for us.

“It was a scrappy affair,” Clarke added. “We were disappointed to go a goal down.”

“Luke (Southwood) has made a couple of good saves and their keeper has made a couple of good saves.

“We are disappointed because we don’t like conceding goals from set pieces and we did that. That’s gives them a foot up and we score a good goal from a well-worked free-kick from Tayls (Matty Taylor) as well to get back in it.

“We went in positive at the break and second half I thought we came out really well, bright and a bad defensive situation for the second goal, where we could do a lot better. Jack (Shepherd) has scored a great goal to get us back in it and I thought we’d go on to win it and we did.”

In the next two games, Cheltenham face mid-table sides Wigan Athletic and Wycombe Wanderers as they aim to keep their run of form going. Following the 1-0 win over Northampton Town on New Year’s Day, they were 23rd with just 20 points from 23 games. They’ve now taken 12 points since that New Year’s Day defeat, which gives them a real fighting chance of survival.

Writer’s View

It wouldn’t quite be classed as the great escape, but since Clarke arrived in October 2023, he has steadied the Robins ship. However, it is quite a turnaround for the club, who failed to score in the first 11 games of the season.

You’d be crazy to write them off now they have a bit of experience and some form, and the manager is doing an incredible job. Eight more points could bring them safety and the likes of Harrop, Taylor and Kinsella may be just what is needed to gain those few extra points.

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