Players will thrive on the big occasion says Westley
Boro boss expecting another big performance from his team
GRAHAM WESTLEY believes his players will thrive on the pressure of Saturday’s crunch clash with Bury.
Boro will confirm their place in the end of season play-offs with a victory over the Shakers, and Westley believes that given the excellent performances his team has given in big games during his tenure at the Lamex Stadium – most notably against Newcastle United earlier this season – he fully expects his players to go the extra yard and get the job done against one of the division’s best sides.
“I’m sure we’ll get it (a big performance),” said Westley.
“I’ve got no doubt about these boys at all. They’ve proved their mettle over the last two or three years that, when the big occasions have arisen, they’ve shown they’re up for it.
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“There’s always troubles, trials and tribulations on the road to any victory – we suffered it last year when we went to Tamworth and got two players sent off, then we went to Rushden and lost in the last minute and you had people that were worried about our promotion and our title credentials and probably the only people who weren’t worried were us.
“We knew we had what it took, we knew we had made some mistakes but we learned from them and got stronger. I think these situations of adversity where things seem to not be going your way, always seem to get the best out of us and there’s a real anger in this camp and a real determination to go and achieve our potential.
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“We’re the form team in the division over 17 games. We’ve won 33 points which is more per game than the champions are going to have. If Chesterfield win at the weekend, which I expect them to, they will finish on 86 points which is not quite 1.9 points per game and we’ve averaged more than 1.9 points per game in the last 33 so we’re in a terrific run of form.
“A blip here and a blip there really shouldn’t take the silver lining off our season and we’re in good form and capable of beating anybody.”
Bury will win the League 2 title on Saturday should they beat Stevenage and Chesterfield lose at home to Gillingham. However, after suffering a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Wycombe last weekend, there are some who feel Bury have taken their foot off the gas after already sealing promotion to League 1 – a school of thought Westley does not subscribe to.
“We won promotion last year and we went and won all of our games after that,” he added.
“I think any side that wins promotion wins promotion because it’s good and, let’s be honest, they’ve done terrifically well.
“They’ve been a great side all year in this league. Alan Knill did a terrific job and Richie Barker (caretaker manager), who I did my A-Licence with several years ago, he’s a good young coach and he’s come in and finished off the job. He will get the job there, for sure. You can’t let a man come in and do the job he’s done and not give it to him. He’s proven what he’s capable of and they will show professionalism at the weekend and we wouldn’t expect anything less.
“They will come wanting to get a result, that’s for sure, but it’s our ground, it’s our environment and it’s our home crowd. There’s going to be a lot of energy in that ground where there’ll be five or six thousand red and white Stevenage shirts and they will unite and push this team on to victory because that’s what we do in the big games.
“It’s important for us to do it because we want to get the best out of our season. Finishing sixth first time out will be fantastic and the lads are determined to make sure that happens.”
Meanwhile, the Boro boss decided not disclose what he will be wearing on the touchline for Saturday’s game.
Boro’s eight-match unbeaten run that began at Wycombe back in March strangely coincided with Westley’s decision to start wearing a suit on matchdays instead of his usual training gear preference.
Westley opted against wearing a suit for the trip to Southend on Good Friday, though, where, again coincidently, Boro suffered their first defeat in nine.
Any superstition that may have existed probably went out the window at Northampton on Saturday where Boro suffered defeat despite the suit being reintroduced to the Stevenage dugout, but it will still be interesting to see which option the manager chooses ahead of the last league match of the season – for those who believe in that sort of thing.
He joked: “I don’t know I haven’t woken up on Saturday morning yet! I tend to wake up on Saturday morning and put something on that feels comfortable. I will wake up on Saturday and see what the weather’s like and I might even get my white one out, who knows.”