16 October 2021

Michael Duff hopes match-winner Kyle Vassell can be ‘big player’ for Cheltenham

16 October 2021

Michael Duff hopes Kyle Vassell can become a talisman for Cheltenham after watching him net the winner in a 1-0 victory against Accrington.

The former Rotherham striker scored 11 minutes from time to open his Sky Bet League One account for the Robins on only his second start.

The 28-year-old has struggled for fitness since arriving in August after a move to the United States fell through, but boss Duff knows the Robins have a formidable goal threat on their hands if they can keep him on the pitch.

“We hope Kyle can be a big player for us and although it’s his third goal of the season, it’s always nice to get off the mark in the league,” he said.

“Some of the senior players we’ve been missing like Kyle and Will Boyle came in, stood up and delivered good performances, along with some of the others.”

Skipper Boyle returned to the backline after a five-game absence due to a calf injury, setting up the goal for Vassell and helping the Robins keep a second clean sheet of the campaign, with former Birmingham midfielder Dan Crowley shining on his first league appearance.

“Boyle causes problems in the opposition box and he knows he has a licence to run forward, having been here for so long,” Duff said.

“Dan will also be better for the minutes and that was his first league game since April, so we’ll have to manage him, but he’s a good player who will get people off their seats and the supporters will love him, even if he drives me mad with certain things he doesn’t do!”

The key moment of the match came in the 79th minute as Vassell followed up after Boyle’s deft attempt was palmed away by Toby Savin.

Cheltenham had threatened to make the breakthrough on several occasions, with Savin repelling Mattie Pollock’s header from a corner in the 14th minute.

Sean Long’s cross was headed over by Boyle before half-time and Scott Flinders had to dive low to his left to keep out former Cheltenham favourite Harry Pell’s effort.

Ellis Chapman set up Vassell seconds after the restart, but his shot was kept out by Savin and Pollock headed the resulting corner over the bar.

Flinders reacted superbly to deny Pell at his near post after David Morgan’s delivery.

But Vassell had the final say at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, with Matty Blair nearly making it 2-0 in final seconds.

Cheltenham picked up their fourth win of the season, while Stanley’s poor away form continues and boss John Coleman admitted they are finding it tough.

“Our away form is horrendous,” he said. “We looked a shadow of the team that beat Ipswich a fortnight ago.

“We looked sluggish and tired and we were sloppy all over the park.

“I don’t know why, but we didn’t lay a glove on them after the goal.

“Their keeper made an incredible save from Harry Pell who could’ve had the match ball.

“There are two ways we can go. We can curl up and feel sorry for ourselves. Or we can stick our chests out and go for it.

“We could’ve won the game, but I still wouldn’t have been happy with the way we played.”

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