Liam Osborne, Sports sub editor
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Gary Smith pleased with display but frustrated with awarding of Spurs’ penalty
STEVENAGE manager Gary Smith was proud of his players’ performance in last night’s 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur – but was disappointed with the award of a penalty for the home team’s second goal at the start of the second half.
Joel Byrom’s early penalty gave Boro a shock lead at White Hart Lane and, despite Emmanuel Adebayor’s penalty and Jermain Defoe’s brace, Stevenage put in a top-notch display full of effort, commitment and genuine moments of quality.
However it wasn’t hard to sense Smith’s frustration at the award of Tottenham’s penalty, which replays confirmed the referee and his assistant had got wrong. But, nonetheless, his team’s endeavours reached a level that even most top-flight teams have failed to match this season when visiting White Hart Lane.
“It was a great start from us, more than we could have imagined, really,” said Smith after the match. We had a game plan which we exceeded in the first 20 minutes. I’ve seen the penalty incident and it’s not a penalty [for Spurs].
“That second goal changed the game and we had to come out of our shell. However with a tad more fortune we could have drawn level at 2-2 with a couple of good chances.
“I thought, to a man, my players gave performances that went above and beyond the call of duty. It should give us a big boost going forward. To come here against what is a very good side and compete will stand them in good stead. People will walk away from here having seen a side that contains a lot of quality.”
Smith confirmed in the post-match press conference that Stevenage have signed striker Patrick Agyemang on loan from Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season.
The Ghana international will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s match against Chesterfield at the Lamex Stadium. The 31-year-old has scored 16 goals in 75 appearances for the west London side, but has found opportunities almost non-existent since their promotion to the Premier League.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said he wasn’t surprised by Stevenage’s impressive performance on the night. He said: “It was tough. People who said we were going to murder them didn’t know what they were talking about. I didn’t expect it to be easy.
“They’re big, they’re strong and they are great at set plays. Your heart stopped every time the ball was crossed into the box.”
Stevenage will take plenty of confidence going forward after this display. The way they matched their Premier League counterparts was a real credit to the club and its 4,500-odd supporters who never stopped singing throughout.