The opposition are working harder than us in the big games, says Westley

10:41 07 April 2014

Luke Freeman is tackled. Photo: Alan Millard

Luke Freeman is tackled. Photo: Alan Millard

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Interview and photos: Stevenage boss calls for more bravery as the fight for League 1 survival intensifies

Both Graham Westley and Mike Jackson give instructions on the touchline. Photo: Alan MillardBoth Graham Westley and Mike Jackson give instructions on the touchline. Photo: Alan Millard

Graham Westley says Shrewsbury showed more courage than his side and questioned why it was that opposition teams are ‘working harder than us’ in big games.

The Stevenage manager was critical of his side following their 1-0 defeat on Saturday in a result that leaves them bottom of the League 1 table and four points from safety with just five games of the season remaining.

“What I hope the players learn about difficult situations - and let’s face facts this is difficult - you have to play with courage, not when things have gone wrong and you react to that, but you have to play with courage from the start.

“What we didn’t show was enough quality and desire to take our game forward.

“It takes big men to pull the shirts on, to perform when the heat is on. Today can be a catalyst and a turning point.

“I agree that the conviction in front of goal is lacking, but that’s about work ethic and that’s about courage – the two words I keep going on about.

“If you are going to be successful in anything you do, you have got to be brave and be prepared to work harder than the opposition. I think in key games oppositions are working harder than us and showing more courage than us.

“First half we did not impose ourselves on the game in the way I think we should have done.”

Westley was missing the services of John Mousinho (leg injury) and took off Simon Heslop midway through the first half saying his midfielder was ‘struggling with energy levels’.

Stevenage also lost Darius Charles at the break on Saturday, and as a result switched to three at the back but were left exposed down their left-hand side in the second half – a position from which Jon Taylor snuck into the box to score the winning goal just before the hour mark.

“We suffered the injury to Darius, Hessy was struggling with his energy levels after the other night [against Wolves], he put a big shift in. We hoped he was alright but he struggled to get a grip on the midfield,” Westley said.

“Until we changed it I did not feel we had a foothold in the game. Once we did change it I felt we had a couple of moments. Once we got our game going forward, they did have some counter attacking moments but a lot of the pressure was ours.

“When you are playing with a back three, there will be moments when their wide players get at the space that can exist out there, but I didn’t think it caused us a huge problem.

“Taylor is a dangerous player and a quick ball player and if you have got Taylor with those spaces on occasions it can be difficult. But he’s won the game through a moment of us going off game.

“We are trying to dribble out of our defensive third when that isn’t the way we play.”

* For photos from the match, click on the link on the right

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