Boro will rise to ‘a different level’ in second leg

Stevenage will be a completely different proposition for Southend United to deal with tonight, according to manager Graham Westley.

Boro head to Roots Hall this evening with a place at Wembley in the League Two play-off final on the line following Sunday’s 1-1 draw in the first leg.

That performance didn’t reach the manager’s lofty standards he sets for his players, but he expects them to be much better in the second leg.

“We were okay, but no means the level I expect us to be at in the second leg, where I do think the players will gain confidence, realise the job is well within them and I expect us to go to a different level in the second leg,” he said.

“The first leg worried me a lot. I was concerned about how we would react; I knew I was giving lads an opportunity to show what they’re about. I believed in them to a certain degree but I know inexperienced players will show their inexperience.

“I thought they were terrific under the circumstances – they did better than I thought they might. Having had than experience, there’s no question they will push on in the second leg.”

Westley’s bid to best Phil Brown is more than just raising the same team to ‘another level’. He is prepared to change the make-up of the side to keep Southend guessing at what his team will do.

“If we add freshness and high quality experience to the team then we might get to the level that’s need to win through [to the final],” said Westley.

“I didn’t have to let everything out of the bag in the first leg; we can bring top quality experience into the fray in the second. In my experience, you need to do that. There’s two ties and you need to play them very differently and make sure you have fresh players who are raring to go and chomping at the bit.”

Whatever he decides to do, the manager is confidence his team won’t shrink in the limelight.

“There are teams that are draw to the finish line and others that are daunted by it,” he said. “I have a feeling we will be a side that is drawn to it; it’s in our nature and make up.

“I can definitely feel the confidence and authority in the squad growing.”