Cheltenham 1-1 Carlisle: Michael Duff’s Robins promoted to Sky Bet League One


Cheltenham have become the first team in Sky Bet League Two to secure automatic promotion after a 1-1 draw with Carlisle.

Having returned to the top of the table after Cambridge’s surprise defeat to Stevenage on Saturday, Michael Duff’s men only needed to avoid defeat in their final game in hand in order to book their place in League One next season.

The celebrations come just 10 months after the Robins were pipped to a place in the play-off final by Northampton, who overturned a 2-0 first leg defeat to win 3-2 on aggregate and progress to Wembley.

It means Cheltenham will play in the third tier of English football for the first time since the 2008/09 season, when they were relegated under Martin Allen.

The Robins had to hit back from a goal down against the Cumbrians, who needed a win to keep their play-off hopes alive.

They took the lead in the 34th minute when Callum Guy’s pinpoint cross was headed into the top right corner by Joshua Kayode for his eighth of the season.

Cheltenham failed to test goalkeeper Magnus Norman in the first half and Michael Duff responded by sending on Alfie May in place of George Lloyd at the break.

The leveller came after Reading loanee Sam Smith was fouled by Nick Anderson on the edge of the box in the 56th minute.

Hussey dispatched the set-piece expertly for his first goal of the season and it was enough to book a return to the third tier after a 12-year absence.

Cheltenham nearly won it through Matty Blair, whose low shot was well saved by Norman in the 78th minute, but Kayode saw another header crash against the bar late on for Carlisle as it finished all square.

Cheltenham boss Duff proud of promotion

“The group has been absolutely top drawer,” said Cheltenham boss Michael Duff following the game. “It means a lot to a lot of people and I’m as proud as punch of them.

“My wife is from the area, I live in the area and I will do for the rest of my career no matter what happens, even if I move on or get sacked. So to have this on my CV as my first ever promotion as a manager, it probably means more than my ones when I was playing.

“I’ve been lucky to have a few [promotions], but to have a group you can call your own and be proud of as a group of lads, it’s hard to find the words sometimes.

“We made hard work of it. Really poor first half but we got a reaction out of it and I’m just pleased to get over the line. But they won’t be out until 5am tonight because we want to go and win the title now.”





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