EFL Team In Focus: Cheltenham

Cheltenham host Bradford Next

Cheltenham Town host Bradford on Tuesday night as they look to maintain their eye-catching start to the season – the Robins are Gabriel Sutton’s (@_FootbalLab) Team In Focus for this week.

Strong home form

Regardless of Tuesday’s result, Cheltenham’s home form has been outstanding.

The Robins have accrued a whopping 47 points from 24 home games under Michael Duff – and ironically, they did not win any of their first five under his watch.

Fixing the away form

The one blemish in Cheltenham Town’s work under Michael Duff over the last 12 months is their away form: just 17 points were amassed from their 23 league road trips under the Northern Irishman, despite outstanding home form.

The recent 2-0 victory at Salford, therefore, could be as valuable from a psychological perspective as it is in terms of the three points themselves.

Now that they have overcome a major hurdle, their first away win of the campaign, they will have a feeling that nothing can stop them and that belief could elevate a decent squad to new heights.

Mixing things up

One of Cheltenham’s main strengths this season is that they are a difficult team to predict.

They can go direct to Luke Varney who, at 5’11” has a surprisingly good spring on him and spearheads attacks very well, but they can also play short.

We saw in his loan spell last season that Charlie Raglan is comfortable on the ball; so is Jacob Greaves, who has experienced Under-23s football with Hull – the duo sandwich Ben Tozer, who has spent much of his career as a midfielder, in the back-three.

With different tools in their arsenal, the Robins can adapt to where the space is on the field and what the game needs.

Impressive midfield

Ball-winner Nigel Atangana left for Exeter in the summer over a reported contract disagreement.

Had one told Cheltenham fans then, that their two deepest midfielders would be Conor Thomas and a slim technician in Jake Doyle-Hayes, on loan from Aston Villa, they might have been worried.

While there have never been any question marks about Thomas’ application, there had been concerns over his ability to handle the physical side of the game.

Over the summer, though, the ex-Coventry man appears to have worked very hard to become more aggressive and combative.

That was a huge plus at Salford, where the 25-year-old instigated the press superbly and played a key part in a controlled midfield display, with Doyle-Hayes dictating from deep.

Broom starring

One major factor behind Cheltenham’s recent form has been the performances of Ryan Broom.

The one-time Bristol Rovers graduate did very well as a right wing-back in the first half of last season, before reported January interest from Burton affected his motivation slightly.

This year, a two-year deal has helped re-focus Broom, who is operating as the most advanced of a three-man midfield in Michael Duff’s 3-5-2 – in a similar role to Jacob Maddox last season, but with more emphasis on direct running and committed bursts into the box.

With that freedom, the 23-year-old has already scored four league goals so far this season – already twice as many as he managed throughout the whole of the current campaign - including a brace last time out.

Broom’s versatility and athleticism have made him a key asset for Cheltenham; now he is relishing the extra freedom.

Wing-back support

One reason Broom has been moved centrally this season was the exit of midfielder Kevin Dawson.

Another was the return to full fitness of right-back Sean Long, who did not kick a ball after signing the summer before last until April due to injury.

With Long on the right and Hussey left, Cheltenham have two wing-backs who support play from behind.

Long will make late runs into the box, once the team is deep into the final third – as we saw with the second goal in the 4-2 victory over Stevenage - while Hussey likes to cross from deep.

Because neither are likely to break too far ahead of the ball, Cheltenham’s midfielders are freed up to press aggressively and make brave runs without the team losing it’s shape.

Promotion chances?

According to the bookies, Cheltenham are only the 14th most likely team to achieve a top seven finish this season.

That seems very surprising, considering that they have a stable squad, a clear playing identity, an excellent manager and essentially Play-Off form for the last 10 months.

Value could be found in siding with Michael Duff’s side, who can be backed at 3/1 with SkyBet to reach the top seven.


Bet £5 & Get £20 FREE BETS! 😍
NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY. FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 2 X £10 BET TOKENS. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS. FURTHER T&CS APPLY. 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG
Claim Bonus

🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
♦️ Bet £15 & Get £15 FREE BET + 2 x £5.50 tickets to our Poker Tournaments! ♦️
18+ | New UK and Ireland customers only | Min £/€15 deposit get max 2 x £5.50 tickets to FootyAccums Poker League | Bet min £/€15 on sports and get £/€15 free sports bet, minimum odds must be 2.0 | Tickets credited automatically after eligible first deposit | Tickets expire in 30 days | Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned | T&C’s apply | BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus
100% Welcome Bonus Up To £50 🙌
The offer is available to new players who made their first deposit. Enter bonus code TONY50 and wager your deposit 10 times on betting markets with odds of at least 1.65 within 30 days. 18+ T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔴 Bet £10, Get £20 in free bets! 🔴
New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from acceptance (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.org. 18+
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
New Customers only. Up to £100* in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5* or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.
Claim Bonus
✅ BET £20 AND GET YOUR MONEY BACK IN CASH IF IT LOSES! ✅
New customers only. Deposit £20 using Debit Card or Trustly. Up to your first £20 of losses will be refunded as CASH within 24 hours of qualifying bet having been settled. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Betfair account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
📲 MOBILE OFFER - BET £10 & GET £50 IN FREE BETS!!!!
New customers who register via mobile only, using Promo code H50 only, Min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 5 x £10/€10, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. See full terms below.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £10 & Get £20 in Bonuses 🌟
18+ New Customers only. Deposit, opt in and place a £10 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive a £10 Free Sports Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days.  Plus a £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw a max of £250. T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly.
Claim Bonus
BET £10 & GET A £10 FREE BET! 💪
New UK customers only. £10 Min Deposit. 100% matched free bet on your first deposit of £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bets. Debit Card deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Full Terms apply. 18+. BeGambleAware.org. Bet The Responsible Way.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.