After a 2-0 home defeat to Stevenage last month, things looked ominous for Cheltenham Town, but the subsequent six-game unbeaten run across all competitions suggests green shoots of recovery.

The key to this turnaround has been Michael Duff’s decision to switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation; a bold move, considering the tactical awareness it requires for a side fighting for it’s EFL future, but one that was entirely justified.

Jordon Forster looks more at home as a wide centre-back than he did at right-back; the aerial battler operates just to the right of Ben Tozer, a midfielder by trade who has adjusted superbly to the new role, next to the influential Will Boyle.

Ryan Broom offers pace and verve down the right and fellow wing-back Chris Hussey, quality and nous on the left, the duo sandwiching ball-winner Nigel Atangana and the resurgent Conor Thomas in midfield.

Veteran duo Luke Varney and Tyrone Barnett are favoured up top for their willingness to grapple with centre-backs and compete in the air, with Aston Villa loanee Kelsey Mooney offering more of a technical option from the bench.

The jewel in Cheltenham’s side though is Jacob Maddox. The silky-footed Chelsea loanee, expected to be back fit after missing the midweek FA Cup win over Ebbsfleet, is not only very creative and capable of winning free-kicks to help his side, he also gets through a lot of work without the ball.

In Alex Addai, meanwhile, they have a forward capable of injecting raw pace from the bench.

Because every player puts in a shift, the Robins have looked very well-organized of late: in their last six games in all competitions, including morale-boosting EFL Trophy performances, they have allowed their opponents just 11 shots on target, which equates to 1.83 per game.

They look capable therefore, of nullifying Newport County, who sit third in the table but have struggled on the road of late.

The Exiles have accrued just two points from their last four away games; and the 1-1 draw at Bury looked slightly fortuitous, given that they were outshot 15-4 and scored from their only effort on target.

With Michael Flynn currently BetVictor’s 2/1 second-favourite for the Shrewsbury job, with uncertainty over the future of key loanees like midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson and of course an FA Cup grudge match with Wrexham the following week, there are reasons why Newport may not be fully focused at Whaddon Road.

With Robbie Wilmott the latest to join a lengthy injury list, Andrew Crofts only just getting back after three months away and Josh Sheehan seemingly out of favour, they have could have effectively as few as 13 senior outfielders who are fully fit, sharp and in contention to feature.

Should Cheltenham maintain their current performance levels, they have the wherewithal to take advantage.


Cheltenham win to nil

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