Cheltenham Town have guaranteed 16th place ahead of their final game of the season, a trip to Stevenage.
A win could take the Robins to 15th, a remarkable end to a season of change for fans and players at the Jonny Rocks Stadium.
Manager Michael Duff has overseen a turn around since taking over from Gary Johnson in September, and while it took time to get the wheels in motion, he’s turned the side into a well oiled machine, particularly benefitting from strong home performances.
Results in the last three months have left fans hopeful that next year there could be a push for the play offs. After three straight defeats and no goals scored in the opening three league games, it’s a relief to be speaking about the same group of players in such a positive way.
One of the best things to happen this season has been the signing of striker Luke Varney. Coming in without a pre-season at a club, the self motivated Varney has netted 14 goals, his best tally since playing for Crewe in 2006/07.
Cheltenham’s 36-year-old striker picked up three awards on Saturday, collecting the Mira (Sponsors) Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and the Bryan Jacob Cup (Supporters’ Player of the Year.
All have been fully deserved, Varney bringing the feel good factor back to Whaddon Road in the last six months.
Cheltenham’s home form has also been exceptional since Duff found a winning formula against Arsenal u21s. Watching Cheltenham players who struggled in a 4-4-2 adopt a 3-5-2 so well and continue to develop in that way throughout the season has been fantastic.
The Robins are unbeaten at home since January 12th, taking points off the League Champions Lincoln, then high flyers Exeter, and second place Bury.
If they can take that form into next season, then the play offs won’t be out of the picture, with some of the squad proving they can perform against the league’s best teams.
Overall, a positive season for Cheltenham after a slow start, changes off the pitch have improved performances on the pitch, and the best thing to happen to Cheltenham this season is signing Michael Duff.
He is the main reason fans are already looking forward to the next campaign, anticipating his first full pre-season and summer transfer window with the club. Overall he’s been a fantastic appointment so far from chairman Andy Wilcox, and things are looking up for next season.