Boro players were valiant - Westley
Graham Westley described his nine-man sides performance at Wembley as Valiant
GRAHAM Westley described his players’ efforts at Wembley as valiant as they pushed Barrow all the way despite finishing the game with nine men.
Jason Walker’s extra-time winner ended Boro’s hopes of the double and Westley admitted the longer the game went on the more it looked like Boro would ‘snap’.
“I thought the boys were valiant,” Westley said afterwards.
“It’s very difficult with nine men on a big pitch like that.
“We couldn’t really get out, they managed to get their shape on top of us whatever we tried to do and with nine men we couldn’t really get out or get any passing going, the longer the game went on when it went into extra time I always thought we were going to snap.”
Boro seemed to come out on the wrong end off all referee Lee Probert’s big decisions with Boro fuming that they didn’t get a penalty when Paul Edwards bought down Yemi Odubade in the box.
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“The penalty decision, again I haven’t seen it myself but I’m told it was a stonewall penalty, certainly from where I thought it was that was a penalty.
“The Birdges’ sending off made a difference, I’m told that was a sending off. My angle on it, when you see what Hulbert’s done and then when you see what Bridges has done, one’s marginal and one’s a cert for me.
Luck certainly didn’t seem to be on Boro’s side on the day and Westley says that why the best sides don’t always win cup competitions.
“You can always lose a game on the day, we all know that, anything can happen in football,” he said.
“We all remember the big FA Cup Final when Wimbledon came and against all the odds took the prize away from Liverpool.
“Anything can happen and today, stuff has happened, we’ve lost the football match, they’ve won the football match, they get the Trophy we don’t but I think that’s why the best side does win the league. The best side doesn’t always win the cup.
“I think the biggest difficult taste today will be the fact that they lost Hulbert to an extremely violent challenge and we lost Griffin and were unable to substitute Griffin, I think that’s the one moment in the game that will leave a sour taste in the mouth.
“We were taken down to nine men not because of a second sending off but because of violent conduct.
“I’m not one who does unfair, I like getting on with life and dealing with what’s in front of you, but there’s certainly a little tinge of what might have been because of that.
“I’ve said to the players, winning a promotion is a massive thing. For a club like ours to take the main prize away from clubs like Luton and Oxford and Wrexham, all the real big boys, is a massive achievement for them and certainly in my mind one defeat today where one or two things didn’t quite go right it certainly won’t take the gloss off a fantastic season.”
Much had been made of the Wembley surface prior to the game with the stadium staff relaying the pitch just weeks before the game.
Despite the players struggling to find their feet on the wet surface the Boro boss says there were no complaints from his side.
“I’ve said previously, the surface out there when you compare it to what we play on week in, week out in the Blue Square Premier, hopefully life in League Two will be slightly better, but if you look at what we play on week in, week out there’s no cause for complaint.
“The players found it very difficult to stand up. There were some real problems at half-time with them changing their footwear and they found it very difficult to stand up. The ball wasn’t running that true but if you lay a pitch as recently as that has been laid then I guess there is bound to be some problems.
“I think it was probably better last year, the ball was certainly moving more freely. It was a little bit uneven underneath I think today.”