Michael Duff dedicated Barnsley’s 4-0 win at his former club Cheltenham Town to Oakwell employee Beth Sefton who is seriously ill in hospital.
The Reds announced yesterday that the head of ticketing – a long-serving and well-known figure at Oakwell – had had emergency surgery in hospital.
Head coach Duff told the Chronicle: “I mentioned Beth to the players before the game. She has given everything to the football club for a long time. Her family are saying they hope we can win for her, which shows how important the club is. We dedicate the win to her and hopefully she pulls through.”
Duff was returning to the club where he spent four years as a manager before moving to Oakwell last summer.
“I came out a bit earlier than normal to thank the supporters without making it about me. There were a couple of boos as you can imagine. It’s a great club, you won’t get a better opportunity than here as a young manager. I thank them for the nice welcome.
“I am glad we’ve won. I want Cheltenham to stay up. You don’t spend so long at a football club and not want the best for them. But you can’t have sentiment in the career I am in.”
Herbie Kane and Adam Phillips netted long-range stunners while James Norwood and Jordan Williams finished off fine team moves.
Duff said: “I am not sure we were superb. I think we were clinical. We’ve been a lot better in games this season. But Cheltenham have beaten some good teams here so it’s a good result.
“I think we could have picked them off two or three more times but that’s just me being greedy. Last time we went 3-0 up at half-time, against Accrington, we lost the second half, but this time we got the clean sheet which is pleasing.
“They are in a difficult place and their heads seemed to drop a bit when we got the first goal.”
Nicky Cadden travelled down with the team yesterday but left the hotel during the night because his pregnant partner went into labour. He was replaced by Ziyad Larkeche.
Duff said: “We wish Nicky and his family all the best. That’s why we have had a squad. Ziyad came in and was seamless. He has had hardly had a kick since the turn of the year but his performance was excellent. He drives standards in training.”
On his goal, Kane said: “A lot of the time the ball drops on the edge of the box. I was there and trusted my technical ability on my weaker foot. It was a nice feeling.
“We didn’t play our best football but got the job done. It was a great result for the boys after a tough week. We’ve worked hard. I think we deserved the goals and the result.”
Luke Thomas – the former Cheltenham youngster – came off the bench after four months out with a broken leg. Duff said: “He did what he does, that sneaky press and running down the left. It was the first time he played here. He’s got an affiliation to the club (Cheltenham) as well. It’s good to have him back”