Westley disappointed in defeat

Boro boss blames poor first half display as reason behind defeat

STEVENAGE boss Graham Westley cited his team’s poor first half performance as the reason behind the 2-0 defeat against Wycombe Wanderers.

Kevin Betsy and Stuart Beavon strikes before half time condemned Boro to a disappointing defeat following two excellent away wins but Westley feels his team will have learnt plenty of lessons from this match.

“I thought it was a really disappointing first half performance from us,” said Westley. “Our attitude was short of the mark that we’ve set for ourselves and I think we proved that in the second half when we stepped on the gas in terms of having the desire to go on and win the game. We created some good chances that we should have taken.

“I was disappointed with the lack of purpose, the lack of desire, the lack of belief that we were going to go on and win the game. Two very sloppy goals to give away – neither situation warranted a goal to be conceded. A set play that we didn’t clear and we didn’t do our jobs properly in the second phase and the second one down their right – we had an overload of defenders against attacking players and ended up conceding which is not something that we do. So, two very disappointing goals to concede and very little going forward the other way.

“We knew the early stages of the season were likely to be a learning curve for us all and we’ve learned a lot of lessons. I think when you play ‘bigger clubs’ it’s easy to play in awe of them. They brought a six-figure striker off the bench and we brought a trialist off the bench and there’s a big difference there and that can have an impact on your mentality.

“We’ve got to make sure it doesn’t have an impact on our mentality. If we want to play in awe of sides there are plenty that will be willing to beat us. We’ve got to step up to the plate and be prepared to be as good as we can be.”

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The game started slowly as neither side were able to fashion any meaningful goalscoring chances and it took until the 15th minute for the first chance to arrive when Wycombe striker Beavon glanced a header just wide following Gareth Ainsworth’s cross. It wouldn’t have counted anyway as the linesman had already raised his flag.

The Chairboys looked a yard quicker that Boro all over the pitch and took the lead on 35 minutes when Boro could only half clear a corner to Ainsworth who was afforded all the time he needed to pick out an un-marked Betsy at the far post who nodded past Chris Day.

The visitors grew in confidence after the breakthrough and Boro found it increasingly difficult to trouble Wycombe’s back-line.

The second and final goal arrived at the worst possible time for Boro when Beavon scored on the stroke of half time. It was a result of more sloppy play from Boro as Ainsworth was allowed to roam into the Boro penalty area and his shot from 15 yards rebounded off the upright into the path of the on-rushing Beavon who duly tapped home from close range. In truth, it would be hard to say Gary Waddock’s team didn’t deserve their two-goal lead and Boro knew it would take something special to get themselves back into the match.

Boro did start the second half with a lot more purpose and seemed to be more inventive going forward and Chris Holroyd had his 20-yard effort comfortably saved by Wycombe ‘keeper Nikki Bull.

Westley had introduced Yemi Odubade for Charlie Griffin at half time and it looked to have been a good decision as on two occasions the substitute broke free down the left but poor decision-making from the winger-come-striker meant his team were unable to capitalise on the breakaways.

Moments later Lawrie Wilson was put clean through on goal following a superb pass from former Chairboy John Mousinho but a heavy first touch meant Bull was first to the ball and the chance had gone.

Wycombe failed to show the same attacking intent as they had in the first half which was probably not surprising given their two-goal cushion.

Odubade had an opportunity to reduce the deficit on the hour-mark, be it a half-chance, but his first-time effort from the edge of the area flew high over the Wycombe crossbar.

Boro had their best chance of the match eight minutes later when un-marked defender John Ashton was brilliantly picked out by Darius Charles’ cross from the right but somehow Ashton put his header wide of the mark when it seemed easier to score.

The miss really summed up Boro’s afternoon and there was a strong sense around the Lamex that they were not going to get a better chance to get back into the match.

Wycombe nearly made it three with just under 20 minutes left when Strevens had the ball at his feet from six yards out but Day showed tremendous bravery to save at his feet and send the ball out for a corner.

There really wasn’t much else to shout about before the end as Wycombe saw the job through without too much fuss.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Boro against what was a well-organised Wycombe side.

Boro fans got a glimpse of trialist Marvin Williams who was introduced for the final 15 minutes but there wasn’t enough time for him to really make an impression. Westley didn’t give any indication of whether or not he will become a permanent addition to the squad.

The team now look forward to what is sure to be a tough away trip to Rotherham United next Saturday. The Millers are currently unbeaten at home and Westley will be hoping his players can replicate the form which yielded six points from trips to Lincoln and Hereford last week.

Stevenage (4-4-2): Day 6, Henry 6, Charles 7, Ashton 6, Bostwick 6, Laird 5 (Bridges 45 6), Long 6 (Williams 73 6), Wilson 7, Mousinho 7, Griffin 5 (Odubade 45 6), Holroyd 6.

Subs not used: Bayes, Foster, Winn, Sinclair.

Attendance: 3,384