Michael Duff praises George Lloyd for extra-time winner
George Lloyd headed Cheltenham into the third round of the FA Cup in a 2-1 win over Crewe and earned the praise of his manager in the process.
The diminutive striker, who had not started a league game since suffering concussion last month, clashed heads with Crewe defender Olly Lancaster as he nodded in the extra-time winner ensuring his side were in the draw with the Premier League giants for the first time in eight years.
Robins boss Michael Duff said: “Yes he was brave but that’s your job – it’s worth it and it doesn’t hurt for that long. The goal is there forever.
“It is something we work hard on in terms of getting people to react when the ball goes over their shoulder, whether that’s a centre-forward or a centre-half. He deserved his goal today, he’s been excellent,
“He is a brave boy and he’s strong, despite not being the biggest. He has an unbelievable leap. He has that sort of wiry strength, being an ex-gymnast as a kid. You can see that in him and he knows how to use it as well. You can see him backing in and pinning people. That’s something he’s developed really well.
“We were really good today and the best we’ve been for a while. We looked a threat, we looked organised, hard to beat and they are a good team.”
Finn Azaz fired Cheltenham into a third-minute lead, pouncing on a poor clearance to drill a low shot past Alex keeper Will Jaaskelainen.
Opposite number Scott Flinders saved well from Crewe’s Dan Powell and Luke Murphy before Powell levelled the scores after 63 minutes with a deflected effort that wrong-footed the Cheltenham shot-stopper.
That took the tie into extra-time and Lloyd popped up with the winner in the 94th minute, heading home after Liam Sercombe had headed on Tom Sang’s cross.
Crewe manager Dave Artell said a poor start and some shocking refereeing decisions did not help his side.
“It doesn’t help when you concede after three minutes but it doesn’t mean that the game plan is out of the window,” he explained.
“I thought we dominated possession for large parts without really hurting them enough and I thought we well deserved the equaliser.
“The game changed after about half an hour when the referee misses a blatant sending off. Me and Michael (Duff) both agree he’s the worst we’ve ever seen and we’ve played probably 1,000 games between us. The fourth official agreed with us and you don’t very often get one of their own turning on them.
“I think the game gets affected – there were fouls for Cheltenham when our lad pushed one of theirs over and he doesn’t give it. We’ve had a blatant penalty and he doesn’t give it.”