Stevenage boss Smith has high praise for Crewe Alexandra

Gary Smith has paid tribute to Saturday’s opponents Crewe Alexandra ahead of their League 1 clash.

Boro have lost their last three league games to drop out of the play-off picture, whereas Crewe have sneaked in and around that area having won their last two.

And ahead of the game, Smith is in no doubt that the clash won’t be an easy one.

“The academy and the way they [Crewe] have produced players is something for everyone to be very respectful of, and I am sure they will be extremely pleased with the way things have gone for them this year.

“Yes they do play football, the vein that runs through that club is that you want to produce good players, and you have to be coaching and developing players in the right manner.

“However, I do think they have got a better balance this year. That balance of a little bit more physicality, with [Mathias] Pogba up front; he isn’t your stereotypical Crewe-type player, but he’s physically well-equipped, athletically very capable and of course he’s shown that he knows where the back of the net is, so a good signing in that respect.

“They’ve got more balance and are very confident at the moment, so I am fully expecting a very, very tough task.”

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Mathias Pogba is the elder brother of former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who is now plying his trade with Italian outfit Juventus.

Stevenage sit in 12th spot in the league standings, with 37 points from 24 games played. Crewe are in 10th position, two points ahead of Boro on 39, having played one game more.

Last time out, Crewe enjoyed a 1-0 victory against Carlisle United, on-loan Fulham striker Lauri Dalla Valle netting the only goal of the game a minute before half-time.

Stevenage, of course, suffered late heartbreak away at Walsall on New Year’s Day as winger Jamie Paterson secured The Saddlers a 1-0 victory with an 87th-minute winner.