Liam Osborne, Sports reporter
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Boro skipper says he and his team-mates will be devestated if they don’t reach the play-offs
STEVENAGE captain Mark Roberts says he will be devastated if his team don’t make the play-offs this season.
Boro’s hopes of finishing in the top six have slowly ebbed away in the last two months thanks to a succession of draws and missed opportunities – most recently on Monday with a 1-1 draw with Preston – meaning they face an uphill task to overtake sixth-placed Carlisle United with a six point deficit and just five fixtures remaining.
It’s fair to say a third straight promotion would have been almost incomprehensible back in August, but an excellent two thirds of the season generated a legitimate belief among supporters it could be achieved. And despite the odds being stacked against Boro, Roberts insists the team will continue to fight all the way.
“It would feel like the end of the world to me [if we didn’t make the play-offs],” Roberts told the Comet. “I know a lot of the players are very ambitious and if you’re not succeeding and not trying to be the very best you know you’re failing.
“It would be a massive, massive disappointment if we don’t make the play-offs because that was always the aim to get the third promotion. And we’ve still got a great opportunity to do that and it’s up to us.
“We’ve got Yeovil on Saturday and if we go there and win we’ve got a massive week then at the Lamex when we’ve got Carlisle and Brentford. We’ve got to win those games and make sure we stay as positive as possible.”
Boro have only won two league games in 14 attempts since manager Gary Smith took over from Graham Westley back in January. But when asked if the team had lost something – perhaps a psychological edge – since the departure of their former boss to Preston, Roberts disagreed and insisted they haven’t lost any of their qualities that founded their back-to-back promotions from the Conference.
“I think the results might show that but at the same time we’ve been difficult to beat and we’ve always been that way in the last couple of years,” said Roberts. “We’ve not lost many games but we’ve just not been able to win them. Up until putting the ball in the net we’ve been mostly very good.
“The first goal is massive in any game and we’ve not really been able to do that apart from the Wycombe game.”
Roberts was the hero for Boro on Monday when his 94th-minute header salvaged a point against the Lilywhites. His reaction after finding the net illustrated a man who is clearly aggravated his team have not posted more points than they have in the last two months. But the 28-year-old isn’t one to shirk a challenge and he says Boro will fight all the way to make sure they turn around their fortunes.
“We’re desperate to win these points,” he added. “It’s difficult at the moment because there is a lot of frustration about the place but we’re trying to stay as positive as possible and we’re trying to turn it around.”