Cheltenham boss Michael Duff hailed Reuben Reid after his third-successive winning strike secured maximum points in Saturday’s 1-0 Sky Bet League Two victory over Mansfield.
Experienced striker Reid has battled back from summer knee surgery – including setbacks on the road back to fitness – but he hit the decisive goal against Carlisle, Leyton Orient and now Mansfield to keep the Robins’ automatic promotion hopes alive.
“A few people questioned a few different things when we signed him, but since he came in, he’s been absolutely top drawer,” Duff said.
“He lost 10kg between meeting me and the end of pre-season because he got smashed in the gym.
“I am a firm believer in hard work paying you back and he’s had a kick along the way, coming back from the operation and scoring, but then getting injured again, so he’s had to deal with that.
“He’s been great and he helps the other players. He is a more experienced one, but that’s what we want. We have a blend of everything and today’s game was edgy, but we fell the right side of it thanks to that one moment of real quality.”
Substitute Reid powered in Ryan Broom’s cross from the right after 65 minutes to earn the Robins their fifth home league win in succession.
Mansfield had wasted three clear chances to take the lead, denied by goalkeeper Owen Evans on two occasions.
It was a triple substitution and change of formation from Duff that made the difference, with Reid, Alex Addai and Conor Thomas all coming on after 57 minutes.
Reid, who had nodded in the winner from a Broom cross against Leyton Orient a week earlier, was Cheltenham’s hero for the second Saturday in a row.
Mansfield boss Graham Coughlan felt his side deserved much more for their efforts at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
“I felt we deserved to win the game,” Coughlan said. “We were the better team by a country mile. It’s very, very hard to take.
“I have a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach after losing that game. In any game of football you need luck and we just didn’t get the breaks.
“We had the best moments, but they had the most decisive moment when they scored the goal.
“I have to take my hat off to the dressing room because the fitness and performance levels have gone through the roof and they’ve bought into what we’re trying to do.
“Our lads were excellent and I’m very proud of them, but you have to take your hat off to Cheltenham.
“It’s the same old story though and we’re on the wrong end of the result.”