PROUD Mark Yates heaped praise on Cheltenham Town's players and backroom staff after they defeated Burton Albion 1-0 to move level on points with second placed Port Vale on Saturday.
A month, potentially pivotal to their promotion hopes, has started with FA Cup first round progress and a stirring performance at leaders Gillingham – where they drew 0-0 – followed by a fourth home win in succession.
Yates told his players they had earned themselves an enjoyable Saturday night and Sunday off, but they will be back in training today to begin preparations for their trip to Rotherham United in five days' time.
"It was a very hard fought and thoroughly deserved win and our first half performance was excellent," Yates said.
"Three defeats in 17 League games this season shows what a good start to the season we've had.
"The players work tremendously hard when we ask them to and everyone deserves a massive pat on the back at the end of a really tough week.
"We've kept three clean sheets, come away with four points in the League and also progressed in the FA Cup so everyone deserves credit.
"My staff and players can enjoy their Saturday night and then we'll be back in on Monday to work again.
"We won't take our foot off the gas at all, but I'd just like to praise my staff and players because they've been magnificent."
Yates said Saturday's victory was particularly sweet for former Burton man Russ Penn, who was his manager's choice for man of the match after a typically energetic midfield performance.
"Russ was absolutely outstanding and that's the best I've seen him play for quite a while," he said.
"A goal is around the corner for him and I really fancied him to score against his old club and his performance deserved it.
"If he finished off all his chances he probably wouldn't be here. The lads love him, he is brilliant around the place and we won it for him really, and Shaun Harrad against their old club."
The winner was scored by front man Chris Zebroski and Yates said it was richly deserved after some selfless performances leading the line on his own.
"You could see with the celebration how much it meant to the players and they all jumped on top of Zebs," Yates said.
"It's for the effort and workrate he puts in and he's a real handful. We have some very good players here and he's one of them."
Midfielder Lawson D'Ath is unlikely to be fit to play any further part during his initial one month loan spell at Cheltenham from Reading.
He is back with the Premier League club receiving treatment for a knee injury picked up in the FA Cup first round win over Yate Town, but Yates said he would be keen to welcome him back for a further loan spell when he regains full fitness.
"We didn't take Lawson on a whim or for one or two games," Yates said. "We like him and we like what he's about so when he's fit, we'll talk to Reading about getting him back."
D'Ath was expecting his scan results today which will reveal the exact extent of the damage.
â The Robins Trust will hold its annual general meeting in the Robins Nest bar on Thursday evening (7pm).
It will be followed by a fans' forum with Cheltenham Town manager Mark Yates and chairman Paul Baker.