Westley: It’s not crucial to win on the opening day, but it’s lovely

Graham Westley has praised the eagerness of his current crop of players to better themselves as footballers.

The Stevenage manager saw his new charges win their first match of the season on Saturday, a 1-0 victory over Hartlepool United, with a starting XI that consisted of eight debutants – while another two came off the bench.

Speaking afterwards, Westley said he was pleased to get his first win of the season, adding that he has a group of players who contrast markedly with the squad he had at his disposal last season.

“I think the first half was a little bit nervy if I’m honest,” Westley said.

“We played some good stuff but there were little moments where they got on the new stage and they were finding their feet and finding their way.

“Everyone wants to win on the opening day. It’s not crucial, but it’s lovely. I’ve won a championship with five straight wins and five clean sheets and I’ve won a championship with three draws to start the season.

“You can succeed one way or another. It’s great when you get that opening day win and the three points on the board.”

Asked about finishing the game with two strikers – Adam Marriott and Connor Calcutt – who were both banging in the goals lower down the league pyramid last season, Westley added: “The important thing is that they got nearly 90 goals between them in those roles.

“It doesn’t matter where players have been in the past, it matters where they are right now and where they want to be in the future.

“We played too much football last year with lads who were happy at the level they were at or were not bothered if they went to the level below.

“These lads have got an ambition to play higher, they want to go further, they want to progress their careers and go as high as they can.

“When you you’ve got players who have got that hunger, got that desire, got that sense of togetherness, then you always give yourself a chance of winning football matches.”