Manager calls Stevenage’s slow start ‘madness’ in defeat to Portsmouth

Darren Sarll, Stevenage Manager

Darren Sarll, Stevenage Manager - Credit: Archant

Stevenage boss Darren Sarll described his side’s start as madness as they gifted promotion-chasers Portsmouth an opening goal on the way to a 2-0 defeat.

Boro conceded a 21st minute goal, scored by Marc McNulty, after losing possession in their own half.

The caretaker manager, said: “We showed so much fear and anxiety in the first half, we looked like a team that were not quite sure whether they wanted to go that extra bit, whether they really wanted to grab hold of the game take it by the scruff off the neck.

“Most disappointingly we looked hesitant in that defensive high press that we’ve become so good at and that defensive high press is just attitude, it’s just a mentality of ‘I’m going to run harder than anyone else and I’m going to go and get tight’ and for that reason the first half we were very poor.

“The second half was ok, we were better, we did create chances, we created chances in the first half with a couple of nice balls from Ryan Hedges early on, second half we increased that, but why would you give a team a head start.

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“Why would you turn up at half-time, what’s the point in turning up at half-time you might as well not turn up at all, especially against a good side.

“When you do concede that first goal it does make it very hard, especially in the way we have played lately, to pick things back up.”

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There were welcome minutes on the pitch from substitutes Ben Kennedy, Dean Parrett and Adam Marriott, while Tom Conlon had a fine game in the middle of the park, but Sarll was not keen to praise anyone in defeat.

“It’s irrelevant to put any one individual or anything ahead of what is the obvious, Stevenage Football Club has lost a game of football,” he added.

“I’m not fussed about the strategic or tactical changes that were made, I’m more concerned with how we have not even played until 46 minutes, it’s just madness, something I can’t accept, something I won’t tolerate and something that needs to be addressed.

“Tom has been invigorated in the last four and a half weeks, he was ok, but he was part of a team that has lost, but to start bringing out individuals when the team has lost would be wrong.

“We have got to be critical of ourselves.

“We, as a squad, have to accept the responsibility of today’s performance, as we do easily when we win, and we have to say ‘that’s nowhere near the level of what we want, we are not going to give anyone else a free ride’.

“We are going to ensure that we take care of our own destiny.”

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