Smith rues missed Crawley opportunity

Stevenage manager says his side should have ‘nailed Crawley to the mast’ in League 1 match

Gary Smith says Saturday’s defeat against a Crawley side ‘lacking in confidence’ was a missed opportunity for his side.

Stevenage took the lead through a Robin Shroot goal 10 minutes into the second half but Hope Akpan’s strike from inside the box and Dannie Bulman’s deflected effort saw the visitors to victory.

Speaking after the game Smith said the result may be one that the club looks back on at the end of the season with some regret.

“At the moment these sorts of games we’re going to look back on and think we’ll say to ourselves at the end of the year if it’s really tight that it was a missed opportunity.

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“We should have got at least a point out of the game and going 1-0 up against a Crawley side that didn’t look confident we should have nailed them to the mast and got all three points.

“It was bitterly disappointing especially after going 1-0 up. The first half was very, very tight but I thought it was honestly going to be the side that made the breakthrough first would see the three points come towards them.

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“We didn’t do ourselves any favours once we scored. There were one or two poor choices in and around our own box, some disappointing distribution from Steve [Arnold] and a very fortunate second goal for Crawley.”

Boro did have chances to pull back level after going behind, but two wonder saves from Crawley goalkeeper Paul Jones in the dying minutes kept his side ahead. Firstly Jones got strong hands to Lucas Akins’ effort across him, and moments later he saved from Greg Tansey’s free kick.

Yet despite seeing his side create chances late on, Smith says he thinks his players made the wrong decisions at times.

“The final save towards the save there really earned them the three points. It was a fantastic save,” the Stevenage manager said.

“Greg Tansey’s had three or four moments around the edge of the box. Whether it was from a dead ball or open play we’ve seen him hit the target and really make a difference in the past.

“[Against Crawley] it didn’t quite happen. He hit the wall, the goalkeeper made a good save from two dead balls, around the edge of the box he couldn’t get it out of his feet and instead of moving the ball on he tries to shoot and slices it. There was just some strange choices.

“Lucas, who we have leant on massively to make things happen, was particularly quiet, I thought Mat Sadler did a terrific job against him.”

The one positive note that Smith touched upon was the return to the starting XI of Robin Shroot, whose partnership with Marcus Haber in the final third did create problems for the visitors.

“I did think Marcus and Shrooty had a real bearing on what we might get out of the game and of course Robin came up trumps at a very good time,” Smith said.

“He’s creative, he’s sometimes difficult to mark, he can make things happen. He turns up at good times in the box and thoroughly deserved his goal.

“The first half he was extremely quiet but he went through a terrific spell first half of the season and for one reason or another didn’t get his football, and he’s going to have to try and find his confidence and his feet again and today will go a long way to doing that.”

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