Freeman looks towards decisive match against Carlisle

Winger talks after helping Boro come back to earn a point against Bournemouth on Tuesday night

LUKE FREEMAN believes the race for sixth place will come down to the potentially decisive fixture against Carlisle United on April 17.

The Cumbrians opened up a three-point gap between themselves and seventh-placed Boro on Tuesday night with a 2-1 win away at MK Dons. And while Stevenage were left to rue more dropped points from their latest draw against Bournemouth, the former Arsenal man who scored a stunning goal against the Cherries, says it’s important nobody throws in the towel as everything is still to play for.

“Like the manager said you can either look at the glass half full or half empty,” the 20-year-old told the Comet. “It’s hard because if we had a better 15 minutes at the start we probably would have won the game 2-0. But because we had a poor start and didn’t adapt to the game we were two goals down early on which was hard to take.

“But at the same time it’s very good that we came back and nicked a draw. It doesn’t help that Carlisle won as well which leaves us three points off them. So it all boils down to the game against them, which will be massive. We’ve got a better goal difference and I believe if we do beat them we will get sixth place. We’ve got to look at [our situation] positively.”

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Despite being unbeaten in eight games, there is no doubt some supporters are unhappy with the Boro’s performances. But Freeman says the team are going through a phase that nearly all sides endure at some stage.

“One minute you’re on a high winning game after game and the next minute you go through a little dip. But all teams do it – the best of teams do it – but we seem to be taking one at the most crucial time of the season. But the good thing is we have had a little dip and we’re still in the race for the play-offs.

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“The team has got great team spirit. That’s one thing we have in abundance is character, and the togetherness within the team is second to none.”

Gary Smith is also remaining positive after watching his side draw their seventh match in eight unbeaten games.

And it’s hardly surprising given his team fought from two goals down to earn a point from a match that looked over after 36 minutes, but on the flip side it was another home fixture that Boro failed to pick up maximum points.

“It’s like D�j� vu being in this position,” said Smith. “I honestly thought Bournemouth’s quality in the opening 20 minutes was as good as I’ve seen here since I’ve been at the club. They moved it quickly, they moved it concisely and their pace up front caused us a number of problems.

“I thought the first finish was absolutely outstanding and they deserved their two-goal lead with the quality they showed.

“Luke’s [Freeman] was very much out of the blue but when that first goal went in I think we saw the guys lifted and more positive. They were more aggressive and less tentative on the ball and Michael’s [Bostwick] strike was a wonderful volley that gave us a great opportunity in the second period.

“In the second half, we had much better possession, much better shape to the team, some good positional play but we let ourselves down in the final third. That final cutting edge is the key and again we’ve come away with what could prove to be a very valuable point after coming from behind.

“Somehow, some way, though, we have to win a game. We’re not going to get into the play-offs by just drawing our way in. For us it’s about getting in front. We’re always going to cause ourselves the most brutal of heartache when you go two goals down because it’s bloody tough to get back in it.”

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