Stevenage manager’s praise for ‘immense’ centre backs in win over Bradford

Bira Dembele heads against the bar. Photo: Alan Millard

Bira Dembele heads against the bar. Photo: Alan Millard - Credit: Archant

Westley says Ashton and Dembele kept one of the league’s best strike partnerships quiet in today’s League 1 clash

Graham Westley has praised centre-backs Bira Dembele and Jon Ashton, saying he was pleased with how they handled the Bradford City strike pair of Aaron McLean and James Hanson.

Stevenage failed to keep consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time since October, but goals from Francois Zoko and two wonder strikes from Luke Freeman saw Boro to all three points in a victory that moves them off the foot of League 1.

Hanson was one of Bradford’s two scorers in today’s match, but Westley said afterwards that ‘on the whole’ his centre-halves kept the two strikers quiet, adding that there will be more to come from Dembele once he gets more matches behind him.

Westley said: “Bira was outstanding this afternoon. It’s no secret I tried to bring him in earlier in the season, [but] we couldn’t afford to do the deal at the time which was a real tragedy as I thought he was going to bring a lot to the football club.

“Aerially he’s strong, he’s got great pace and he can play as well; he’s got the lot.

“You’ve got to remember he hasn’t played any serious football for a while now, but once we bring him alive he’s going to be outstanding.

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“Him and Ashton were immense in the centre of defence. They’re a handful those two, McLean and Hanson, and there won’t be too many better in the league than that pairing and they kept them, on the whole, pretty quiet.

“We know about the goals [Boro conceded]. One was daft defending from a throw-in where we didn’t get ourselves organised.

“Curtis [Obeng] didn’t react best to Ashton and Dembele, a little communication problem which you can understand. One is English and one is French, they haven’t got a common language yet but they’ll get there.”

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