Westley angered despite victory

Penalty decision leaves Boro boss with a sour taste in the mouth

IT says a lot about what you need to know about Graham Westley that, after just beating Tranmere Rovers 2-1 on Saturday, the Boro boss’s attention was dominated by the fact his side had been denied the opportunity of posting a sixth consecutive clean-sheet thanks to a 93rd-minute penalty.

The club take great pride in their defensive record and, despite taking all three points from a relatively comfortable match against a poor Tranmere side, Westley said the victory was tainted by the referee’s decision in stoppage time.

“The memory I’ve got of the game is the penalty that was given at the end,” said Westley. “We had gone five games without conceding a goal and to have that given has left a very, very sour taste in my mouth.

“I think, in fairness, there were a lot of surprises out there today and [the sending off] was just one of many. [But] it’s about solving problems. And, once again, the players have done that and managed to post the three points which is important.

“We kept a good sense of purpose about us. You’d always want to play a game with these players – whether you’re playing with 10 or 11, I always believe in the players’ fitness levels to be able to make it look like we’re the side that’s dominant rather than the opposition.”

Westley also praised Chris Beardsley after Boro’s top goalscorer notched his eighth strike of the season for the opening goal. Unfortunately, the striker injured his hamstring in finding the net, and it now looks like he will be out for the next couple of weeks.

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However, Westley joked that perhaps Beardsley came off the pitch for an altogether different reason.

“I’ll tell you what – if I’d have missed that from half a yard I think I’d have felt my hamstring as well,” commented Westley, who was referring to a missed chance from Beardsley a minute before his goal.

“He’s a fantastic player to manage. He gives you 110 per cent on the training ground every day and every Saturday afternoon so you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s the top points per game player at the club and he’s a great lad to work with.”

Despite now sitting just one point outside the play-off positions going into the Christmas period, Westley, as ever, is not getting carried away and admits it will take a big effort to win away at Colchester United on Boxing Day.

“Our focus doesn’t change whether we’re seventh, first or wherever. Our focus is always on the next game and it’s not going to be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination on Boxing Day. So we’ll get ourselves in the right frame of mind, we’ll do the work we need to give ourselves the best possible chance of winning the three points.”