Westley not concerned with Stanley home record

We’re going there to win says Boro boss

MUCH has been said about Accrington Stanley’s domineering record at home this season.

Fifteen victories and just three defeats at the Crown Ground stand in stark contrast to a woeful away record that saw them pick up a measly three wins on the road all season – the joint worst in League 2 along with Burton Albion.

However, Stevenage boss Graham Westley is not daunted one bit by records, and he made sure to point out that Stanley’s 13-match unbeaten run going into the first leg last Sunday did John Coleman’s side very few favours after being well beaten at the Lamex Stadium. And Westley says there is no reason why Boro can’t become only the fourth side to win on Accrington’s infamously threadbare patch and secure their place in the final at Old Trafford on May 28.

“It’s a tough place to go – we know that because they’ve got a great record at home – but they had a great record coming into the last game when they were 13 unbeaten and eight years unbeaten on television,” Westley told The Comet.

“They made a lot of that and we knew we had to smash a couple of very big records if we were going to win the other night. So, going into this one, we know all about their home record and becoming the fourth side to win there won’t be easy but that’s what our mindset is.

“The players are relishing it, obviously. The chance to get to a play-off final in their first season up is one they’re all looking forward to.

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“We know it’s going to be a tough job – it’s been a difficult place for clubs to go to and only three sides have gone there and won this season so we’re under no illusions about the size of the task but sometimes you’ve got to climb Mount Everest. But whatever mountain you climb you give it the respect it deserves and you get on with dealing with the different challenges.”

Friday’s match will not be unchartered territory for Boro, or Westley. Two years ago they entered into a Blue Square Premier semi-final second leg with a 3-1 advantage over Cambridge United but ended up missing out on a dream trip to Wembley after a 3-0 reverse at the Abbey Stadium.

Westley has said previously that he hopes to have learnt from the mistakes of that afternoon where Boro were perhaps guilty of being overly defensive and protective of their two-goal advantage.

However there is a sense that there will be little of that this time around and Westley says his team are more than capable of going to Lancashire and taking the match by the scruff of the neck.

He said: “There will be attacking that we do and there’ll be defending that we do. We obviously want to attack as much as we can but one side will have more of the play than the other.

“But we’ll go into the game intending to win it. We know a draw will take us through but we only ever go into a game trying to keep a clean sheet and score goals.

“We always make it our business to be as detailed as we can in our preparations. When you get a situation like this where you play a side back-to-back so quickly there’s obviously a bit more detail that you know about them and your preparation is that much more thorough because you’re playing two games in a short period of time.”

Westley admitted that a number of his players suffered from tiredness in the first leg due to a shortage of game time in previous matches, and cites this as a factor explaining why Boro didn’t add to their advantage in the second half when Accrington seemed there for the taking.

But he insists the likes of Lawrie Wilson, Stacy Long and Joel Byrom will have benefitted from battling through Sunday’s game and that they will be ready to play important roles come Friday night.

“The big issue we had was more about the players who didn’t have match minutes,” he added.

“The likes of Joel, Stacy, Lawrie – it was a struggle to get some of those boys through. One thing that was evident was that we were really tired which I knew would happen….But with those minutes under their belt those lads will be stronger come Friday and that’s a real positive for us and we’ve got some match minutes into players that are probably going to play important roles.

All the boys are focused on their end goal and the determination and togetherness to achieve our objective remains strong.”