Boro always believed in play-off dream says Robbo

PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 May 2011 | UPDATED: 16:04 26 May 2011

Mark Roberts celebrates Boro's win. Photo: Kevin Coleman.

Mark Roberts celebrates Boro's win. Photo: Kevin Coleman.

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Boro captain set to fulfill a childhood dream

BORO captain Mark Roberts says the squad never stopped believing they could make the play-offs despite being sixth from bottom in League 2 as late as mid-January.

A 1-0 away defeat to eventual champions Chesterfield saw Boro slip to 18th in the npower League 2 table on January 15th but from then on Graham Westley’s side displayed their customary strong finish to the campaign and Roberts says the squad always felt confident they could achieve their goals.

“People might not believe it but we always had confidence,” Roberts told The Comet.

“We were coming off the back of beating Premiership giants Newcastle so we showed there what we were capable of. Maybe at the start of the season when we were learning our lessons we started off a bit slowly but it seemed to all change after that (game).

“We did work really hard over Christmas and we knew we’d come good in the second half of the season and that showed in the fantastic run of form we had.”

Saturday promises to be a special day for Manchester United fan Roberts. The 27-year-old was a season ticket holder as a youngster supporting the Red Devils from the Stretford End but, while Saturday’s game gives the Boro skipper the chance to fulfil a childhood dream, the former Northwich man is concentrating solely on earning Boro a place in League 1.

“It’s a special moment in any career for a lad to go and play at a ground of the team he supported as a boy,” he said.

“But that kind of goes out of the window really – the most important thing is winning the game.”

Paul Buckle’s Torquay United have proven to be a bogey team for Boro in recent seasons with Westley’s side still looking to record their first ever win over the Devon outfit.

The two games this season saw the Gulls escape the Lamex Stadium with a 0-0 draw before recording a 2-0 win in the return game at Plainmoor back in March but despite those stats, Roberts is confident Boro have what it takes to address that record.

“Accrington were the form team going into the semi-final and everyone probably would’ve chosen them as favourites but we just showed what we’re capable of by beating them 3-0 on aggregate and hopefully we’ll be able to do the same against Torquay,” he explained.

One of the issues facing Boro this Saturday will be the size of the Old Trafford pitch and Roberts revealed that is something that the squad have looked at during their preparations for the game.

“Our preparation is always thorough and that is one thing we have considered,” he explained.

“The dimensions of the pitch are something you don’t want to be surprised with on the day so we’ll look into that and I’m sure come the day there won’t be anything there that we’re not expecting.”

The return of John Mousinho after suspension means there is plenty of competition for places in the Boro midfield ahead of arguably the club’s biggest ever game while Jon Ashton will hope to overcome a calf injury to fight for a place in the defence.

The performances of Joel Byrom and Darren Murphy who have deputised in others’ absence mean boss Westley will have some tough decisions to make before kick-off but Roberts says that’s been the case all season.

“It’s the same every week,” he said. “Everyone wants to play in every game and I know it’s a final but it’s no different come Saturday.

“We haven’t got to this play-off final because of 11 players – we’ve got to the final because of the whole squad. It’s never just about the individual it’s always about the squad and those lads (Murphy and Byrom) have done well and I’m sure whoever plays Saturday and pulls the shirt on will make sure we get the victory we need.”

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