Impressive debut from Stevenage’s Tonge

Michael Tonge signs for Stevenage

Michael Tonge signs for Stevenage - Credit: Archant

New Stevenage signing Michael Tonge had an impressive debut at Portsmouth despite not having played 90 minutes for six months.

The 32-year-old former Sheffield United, Stoke City and Leeds United midfielder was a constant cool head in front of Boro’s backline and retained possession superbly in the 1-1 draw.

Tonge, once a £2million signing, joined Teddy Sheringham’s side on a free transfer this week having been without a club all season after being released by Leeds in the summer.

Speaking to the Comet at Fratton Park, he said: “It’s been a good six months [since playing 90 minutes], I’ve been trying to keep myself fit, I trained a bit at Bolton, but not played a proper 11-a-side for ages.

“First half, until I got my second wind, I was blowing a little bit, but once the second half started I felt alright.

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“With five minutes to go I felt my calves a little bit so tomorrow [Wednesday] I might be a bit achey, but it was worth it to get the point.

“It was a tough game against a very good team, we knew they would have a lot of the ball, but the gaffer set us up really well with the formation we played and I thought we played really well.

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“The gaffer’s message from the side was stay in the game and we’ll get a chance and if it comes in the 94th minute or whatever they all count.”

Tonge’s fine performance did not go unnoticed by assistant manager Kevin Watson.

“Michael Tonge was excellent and as debuts go, when someone hasn’t played properly, he’s not had a club since the start of the season so March/April since he played a game, was superb,” he said.

“That is what you need, that is how you play football, that is how you keep the ball.

“He’s obviously played at a higher level, he’s getting on a bit now, but his knowledge of the game, knowing when to go and when to sit, when to pass or to take a touch was fantastic, he was first class.”

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