Stevenage boss calls for better first half showings

Boro have had to come from behind in four of last seven outings to share the points

Stevenage manager Gary Smith says his side needs to show more in the first half of games if they are to get into the League 1 play-off places.

Boro have not scored in the first half of a league match since their 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Valentine’s Day and in four of their last seven matches have had to come from behind in games to take a share of the spoils.

Speaking after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Walsall, Smith said his side needs to reproduce the sort of improved second-half performance evident at the Banks’s Stadium more often in games if they are to realise their play-off ambition.

“We started slowly. The plan coming away from home for a lot of teams is to make sure the home crowd don’t get behind them,” Smith said.

“The game was important for Walsall, as it was for us, but for different reasons. And after a very decent result for them at Sheffield Wednesday it was pretty important for us to start well and to make sure they knew they were in a game and after five minutes they were in front.

“[It was] an uphill battle again, but one we’ve climbed on many occasion. The second half certainly showed a different side to us that we’ve got to piece together in the first period as well if we are going to get into them play-offs.

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“Their goal itself came from a bit of a clearance. Darius [Charles] lost the challenge. Their centre-back is coming out from a dead ball situation. He’s on the edge of the box with his back to goal and he’s allowed to turn and swivel.

“Really, it’s a fabulous effort but let’s be perfectly honest as a centre-back that’s not going to be his forte.

“It was a terrific finish but he never should be allowed to be in that position.

“We managed to get a point out of the game that maybe a lot of people here may have said in the first 45 minutes ‘you’ve got no chance of getting anything’ and in the end, again, I thought we were the aggressors for good periods in the second half.”

Smith made a change at half-time with Patrick Agyemang being replaced by Jennison Myrie-Williams, and the Boro boss said his on-loan striker was a little sore after three games in a week.

“Pat’s tight, he’s sore,” Smith said. “I knew that bringing him in after a lengthy injury and playing what will be three starts in a week might have been tough for him. He realises that when he’s playing he wants to have an impact for us. He’s done his job [but] we hadn’t got as much out of the front line as I’d have liked.”