Early running cost us, says Stevenage boss after Watford defeat

The Stevenage bench. Photo: Danny Loo

The Stevenage bench. Photo: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Graham Westley says he can take encouragement from his team’s performance against the Hornets’ ‘tremendous players’

Graham Westley says that the hard running his side were forced into to thwart Watford’s early attacking threat came back to bite them later in the game.

Boro were on the back foot from the start of their Capital One Cup match against the Hornets, whose movement and pace caused Westley’s men plenty of problems.

After riding that storm Stevenage began to put pressure on their opponents, but after conceding an equaliser early in the second half they were, according to their manager, ‘a little off the normal pace’ in the dying stages when trying to find an equaliser.

“If only we’d started the game stronger,” Westley said. “We gave them 20-25 minutes and in that period of time you can probably look for the reason why we didn’t finish the game as strongly as we normally would.

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“We did a lot of running in the first 20-25 minutes just trying to stay in the game, and energy levels would have been sapped by the amount of work that we did.

“Certainly in the last 10 minutes when we were looking to press for the equaliser, we were just a little bit off the normal pace that we would expect to have.”

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Westley was impressed by his own side’s showing following Saturday’s victory against Hartlepool United, but also gave praise to Watford’s ‘tremendous players’.

“We would never want to put ourselves second to anybody, but they’re a wealthy club and they’ve got an array of riches and talent and we went into the game with five lads that were playing non-league football last year, and I think those lad acquitted themselves very well,” he said.

“We were going to be light on experience and knowhow, and at times that showed, but what you could see was the attitude and commitment and the will to work and endeavour to win, and there was a lot of quality that went alongside that.

“I thought it was a strong performance for a side that is very new together and has got a lot of learning to do but it was a tough test tonight and I thought they stood up very well.

“[Watford] have got tremendous players, they’ve got fantastic athletes, they’ve got fantastic technicians and they showed that if you get your detail wrong at set plays, and we did – and it wasn’t the only time we got our detail wrong in our attacking set plays – you can get counterattacked when you’ve got that pace and quality coming at you.

“I go away at the end of the game thinking to myself ‘there are a lot of good things’.

“Sometimes to win, you’ve got to lose. We’re learning to win as a team, I thought we put in a great performance at the weekend; really strong at League 2 level.

“Tonight [we were] a little bit short against a top Championship club [but] I take a lot of confidence from that.”

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