Robbo: We’ll come back stronger

Skipper says players will learn from play-off defeat

STEVENAGE captain Mark Roberts says the club can grow stronger as a result of Monday night’s play-off defeat to Sheffield United.

It is not the first time Boro have lost a play-off semi-final, as they were beaten by Cambridge United back in May 2009, before going one better the following season to win the Conference title. And it is not an uncommon occurrence for teams to perform better the year after play-off heartache and win promotion, with the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Reading, West Brom and Shrewsbury all examples of that trend in recent times.

“It hurts like hell but we’ll dust ourselves off and I’m sure we’ll come back stronger for it,” the 28-year-old told the Comet.

“We can come back from this. We’ve lost in the semi-finals before against Cambridge and the year after we won the league, so you have to draw on these experiences. Some of the players won’t have experienced this feeling before and it’s the worst feeling in the world.

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“There’s nothing that prepares you for losing like this and it’s something you never think about, and when it happens it hurts to the bottom of your stomach. But you’ve got to bounce back and become stronger for it.”

Roberts said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly why Boro struggled to replicate their recent league performances over the two legs against the Blades. He added: “I don’t know really, in the aftermath of the game it’s quite difficult to analyse. Both games were tight and they just managed to get that moment and we couldn’t take our chances, but they took one of theirs and that’s why they are in the final.

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“It’s very difficult to put into words, really. I think the emotions were there for all to see after the game and it just shows the fine line between winning and losing. And unfortunately it is winner takes all and credit to Sheffield United – they conjured up that winning moment to get the goal and we just fell short.”

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