Match preview: Work-rate will be key against the Blades, says Westley

Graham Westley

Graham Westley - Credit: Archant

Graham Westley believes Boro’s work-rate will be the key to beating Sheffield United.

Stevenage travel to Bramall Lane tomorrow night (Friday) to face Nigel Clough’s side in the first of a four-game stretch that will determine their fate in League One.

Speaking at a press conference today (Thursday), Westley praised Friday’s opponent but insisted the motivation is there for his players to earn three points.

“I’ve seen them on a couple of occasions – against Carlisle and Crawley – and they were two very different displays and team selections,” he said.

“They are prepared to shuffle the pack and go about things in a different way. One thing is for certain, they work hard, work to defend their goal and if we’re going to win we need to match and exceed their work rate. If we don’t, we’ll pay the price but we have lots of reason to match them.”

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He added: “It’s difficult to anticipate how they will approach the game. They played the FA Cup semi-final last weekend and made a lot of changes in advance of that in putting a strong performance against Rotherham.

“There’s every chance they’ll change things around. We’re at the stage of the season where they want to play well but they’re not going up and they’re not going down so they may use it as experience for young players or to rest players with knocks.

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“We won’t know until the starting 11 comes out but we can anticipate what they’re going to do and be ready for that.”

With the prospect of playing in front 20,000 fans at Bramall Lane, Boro could face a hostile crowd, but it’s nothing they haven’t already experienced this season.

“It’s difficult to control and environment like that,” Westley explained.

“We’ll go back to performances of ours over 90 minutes; the Everton game is one we’ll return to in term of how to handle that environment.

“The players have shown an ability to deal with those situations so we’ll look for a performance of that ilk if we’re going to remain unbeaten to take three points.”

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