Smith intent on making the most of a talented squad

STEVENAGE manager Gary Smith stood by his decision not to start match-winner Robin Shroot for Tuesday night’s stunning 2-1 victory over Notts County.

The 24-year-old has been a revelation so far this season, and is currently top-scorer with six goals in all competitions after coming from the bench at Meadow Lane to plunder a 92nd-minute winner.

But despite his impressive goals return and eye-catching displays in attacking midfield, the former Birmingham City man has only started three out of Boro’s 13 matches in all competitions.

His manager said he felt the challenges Notts County would bring his side suited different personnel on the night, and insisted it is important to know how and when to utilise each player’s strengths in any given match.

“It’s all about timing – I didn’t think Robin was the right choice for the start of the game as there were other qualities needed to get us in the game and get us through a good period,” said Smith.

“The guys that started put a hell of a lot of effort into that opening hour, and obviously the game opened up towards the end.

“When you are chasing the game it’s obviously nice to have players like Luke [Freeman] and Robin to come on and it’s nice to see him get on the sheet again.”

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It was a miraculous turnaround for Boro, who were trailing 1-0 thanks to Jemal Campbell-Ryce’s 71st-minute penalty.

But the visitors showed tremendous spirit to battle their way to the end, and were rewarded with Lucas Akins’ 83rd-minute penalty and Shroot’s last-gasp winner against the 10-man Magpies.

And Smith believes the fact his side remain unbeaten has added to the players’ resolve in maintaining that record as long as possible.

“It was a hell of a night,” said Smith. “Three penalties and a sending off. They had the lion’s share of possession as you would expect at home but I thought we defended very well.

“I’m really pleased we were able to get back into the game and obviously with the one-man advantage we went on and won the game.

“Any side that is on a good unbeaten run has that resolve and spirit to try and keep hold of that.

“It was always going to be very tight towards the end with Notts County trying to hold on to their lead, rather than push on for a winner, and we’ve taken advantage of that.

“Once we scored the penalty it was front-foot time and the guys responded absolutely magnificently. And listen, this is a very good win here.

“Notts County have been on a great run, they are a very good side, and Keith [Curle] has put together a team I’m sure will be challenging for those promotion spots. To come here and take all three points is delightful.”