Preston no different to any other match – Smith

Boro boss reflects on the win at Yeovil and looks forward to Saturday’s match against Graham Westley’s Preston

STEVENAGE manager Gary Smith says this weekend’s home clash with Preston will not be any different to any other game – despite Graham Westley making a return to the Lamex Stadium.

Boro go into Saturday full of confidence after going joint top of the table following Tuesday night’s 3-1 win away at Yeovil Town, and Smith says he is looking forward to hopefully hearing the Stevenage supporters giving Westley some light-hearted abuse from the terraces like they did on his last visit.

“The weekend is a big one for the fans, but for me it’s no bigger than any other week. And for the vast majority of the players it’s no different to any week that goes by. We’ve got three or four players that played under Graham but I think that slowly moves on but I’m sure the fans will do the usual thing of getting at him from the other side of the pitch which will make everyone smile,” said Smith.

The Boro boss was understandably delighted to watch his team get back to winning ways following successive defeats prior to Tuesday night, and he feels it sets them up nicely going into a tough run of fixtures which sees Stevenage lock horns with Sheffield United and Bournemouth after Saturday’s match with North End.

“To get back on track after going out of the cup is great and another three points on the road with a great win is not to be scoffed at, and if we can just pull that home form around then who knows what’s in store for us.” said Smith.

“The points are the most important thing right now. This is another win under our belts and we move forward.”

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Smith acknowledged that his players were unusually off colour during the first half against Yeovil, but admitted they found it difficult to cope with their initially buoyant opponents.

He also reserved praise for the input of striker Marcus Haber who looked very lively in the second half after replacing the returning Patrick Agyemang.

“Credit to Yeovil they played some good football. We looked a bit tentative and didn’t do ourselves any justice with the ball in the first half but the second period showed a very different picture and once we got the second goal we looked quite strong,” said Smith.

“I’ve not had the opportunity to use forwards as freely as I have today. Pat’s been injured but being able to say to him ‘go on… this is your first start in a long time, go and get after the game’, offer him a bit of support up there with Lucas for the first 15 minutes then go back to a shape we’ve been accustom to.

“Then in the second half we gave Marcus the opportunity to not be that battering ram all the time. He’s worked tirelessly up there for a good number of weeks now and I just thought it might work if we offered a bit more energy up there for two periods.

“Goals do make a difference. Mindsets make a difference as well. When you score you feel good and confident but Yeovil scored quickly and there wasn’t enough breathing space for us to settle after taking the lead.

“Then the doubts start to creep in again, and the guys looked unsure of themselves, which is unlike them. I keep saying it but the team is still growing and they are finding a lot out about themselves and I’m finding out a lot about them.

“I thought Lucas’ goal was important because it allowed us to steady our nerves and we had two or three good opportunities that we didn’t make enough of. But thankfully we got the third goal which stopped those doubts coming back again and we deserved the win.”