We now need to finish the job - Westley
Boro boss to guard against complacency as play-offs approach
STEVENAGE boss Graham Westley has told his players to finish the job after seeing his side reach the League 2 play-offs after their draw with Bury on Saturday.
Stevenage host Accrington Stanley at home on Sunday before travelling up to the Crown Ground the following Friday in a bid to reach the play-off final and, with it, the opportunity to book a place in League 1 for the first time in the club’s history.
Although Westley said finishing sixth was a ‘wonderful testament’ to the hard work his side have put in during the past 10 months, the Boro boss said his players have to put that behind them and concentrate on winning their last two – possibly three – matches.
“The (3-3 draw with Bury) was a terrific affair, two sides trying to win the game,” Westley said after the match.
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“(There was) football end to end and both attacks got the better of both defences which is a surprise because I think we both had the best defences in the league coming into the game.
“It was the type of game where both sides were going hell for leather for the win. It was open, it was exciting, and it was a credit to League 2, I thought.
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“Whatever was going on elsewhere we knew it was in our hands. If we won here we would (be in the play-offs). By the time we got to 3-3 going into the last 10 minutes I was pretty much aware that the draw would see us through unless there were some ridiculous events elsewhere and at that point you didn’t see me going gung-ho to try and get the win.
“I’d probably settled, just consolidated and made sure that we brought all the points in that I knew would kick us up the table to sixth.
“I think the lads deserve all the credit that they’re going to get. I think at the same time they’ll take the credit and keep their feet on the floor as they know there is still work to be done.”
Westley was in his first spell at Stevenage when they lost 1-0 to Carlisle United in the 2005 Conference play-off final after beating Hereford United in the semi-finals, and during his second spell at the club saw his side throw away a 3-1 first leg advantage at Cambridge United in 2009.
Boro overcame the 2009 disappointment by clinching promotion to the Football League in 2010 and now have the chance to make it back-to-back promotions, but first they must face a ‘never-say-die’ Accrington side for a place in the play-off final at Old Trafford on May 28.
“I, as a manager, and we as a club have qualified for the play-offs twice and they’ve both ended in defeat,” Westley said.
“There’s no point in getting too carried away yet, it is an achievement and we don’t want to take that away from the lads. They’ve worked so hard to improve.
“It’s been a tough season, and at one stage in January we were in 18th position. To move from 18th to sixth and a play-off place is just a wonderful testament to the work ethic of the boys of this football club.
“But as I say you can get carried away with this moment or you can get your head down and keep your feet on the floor and worry about winning the semi-final and then going on to win the final, and that’s got to be agenda now.
“(Accrington) are a good side. I’ve been very impressed by them in the games I’ve seen of them recently, and I’ve seen a lot of them.
“They play bright football, they pass from the back, they’re an energetic and committed side – they’re very together.
“They’re a tough side to beat, their recent results show that. We know it’s not going to be a gimme.
“We went up there and lost 1-0, they came down here and they fought back late on and showed that never-say-die attitude to draw 2-2.
“They know it’s going to be a tough encounter as they know we will.”