Captain’s Column: Mark Roberts

Boro skipper on latest run of results, and the need to improve

I am writing this article on the eve of our Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with AFC Wimbledon and after the disappointment of three consecutive defeats in the league we are looking to bounce back strongly tonight (Tuesday).

The pedigree of this club in cup football is second to none and we all know how a good cup run can aid our league form. Last year’s FA Cup success gave the squad a huge lift and it undoubtedly played a big role in our push towards promotion in the second half of the season.

There is nothing quite like a trip to Wembley and that is the prize on offer for us all.

As a player that has enjoyed both success and failure at the Home of Football I am determined to return there and scale those famous steps as a winning captain.

Since my last article much has happened and many lessons have been learned.

There have been new arrivals to the squad in the form of Don Cowan and Josh Walker.

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Josh was on a similar loan deal last season and he claimed his first goal of this current spell in the defeat to Scunthorpe United on Saturday. He has captained England at various youth levels and has Premiership experience from his time at Middlesbrough.

Don was signed on transfer deadline day and unfortunately the injury he suffered soon afterwards has kept him out of action. He is a strong centre forward with bags of pace and it is clear to see he is itching to get onto the training ground and force his way into the first team picture.

Both lads have integrated themselves into the squad and add quality and competition for places.

The past month has been one where we have tasted defeat more than victory and that is something I cannot remember in my time as a Stevenage player.

Of course the standout result, in a positive sense, was the 5-1 demolition of Sheffield Wednesday and anyone who was at that game will no doubt wonder why we have failed to reach that level of performance since.

I can honestly say that I don’t think we were even at our best on that night. Yes, the level of intensity that we played at was phenomenal, but there is more to come from this group of players. The challenge is, of course, to do it on a consistent basis and only the very best players turn out performances like that one every single week.

Champions go that one step further and simply get better with each game.

The Wednesday result saw us rise to sixth in the table but the subsequent three defeats mean we have now dropped to 14th. That highlights the cut-throat nature of football and how quickly your situation can change when you fail to deliver winning performances.

Since we defeated Sheffield Wednesday they have reacted in the best possible way and won their last three matches. Although we only ever focus on the next game, the same opportunity to turn things around is there for us to grasp.

The only way to react to any defeat is to be honest and that has to be both with yourself, as an individual, but also as a collective team.

Then the hard work on and off the training ground has to put things right. We are all aware that our fate is in no-one’s hands but our own. We can all be as good as we want to be so next month, when I write my next article, I hope I am writing about the winning momentum we have all helped to create.

Until next time,