Westley not underestimating out-of-sorts Preston

Boro boss looks ahead to Saturday’s trip to Deepdale

GRAHAM WESTLEY says his team will not go into Saturday’s match underestimating Preston North End – despite them winning just once in their last 10 league outings.

Phil Brown’s team have endured a difficult few months and they currently sit in 14th place in League 1 after relegation from the Championship last season. And despite an encouraging away win at Hartlepool on November 29, they suffered another set-back on Tuesday night when they were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area semi-finals on penalties at home to Chesterfield.

However, Westley says there is nothing to be gained from worrying about Preston’s recent plight going into the match, and that his players must focus solely on extending their good run of form.

“It’s another big club with a fantastic arena,” said Westley. “It’s an odd pitch which is as long as ours but much wider, so there’s a box-like feeling to the pitch and you’ve got to adapt your game to play on that different type of surface.

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“They’re a side that’s been going through a difficult period – they’ve lost a lot of football matches and that doesn’t breed confidence – but there’s a lot of experience in their camp.

“They’ve got some very good players, they’ve got an experienced manager, it’s a big club with a new chairman that has just come in – and that will probably be worrying one or two.

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“It’s definitely a club in transition on one hand, and facing a difficult period on the other, but what will be important is how we play. If we’re on our game we can go there and win, and that will be our intention. It’s a great opportunity to put in a hell of a performance.”

Meanwhile, Westley shared his thought’s on last Sunday’s FA Cup third round draw, in which Boro were handed an away tie against Reading who, coincidently, knocked Stevenage out in the fourth round last season.

And despite admitting it will be a tough task to make it through to the next round, Westley believes the gap in quality between the two sides is not as great as it was back in January.

“It’s obviously a surprise to draw the same club that we drew last season and it’s a difficult tie,” he added.

“Going away to a Championship club is never going to be easy, they’re a well managed club and Brian [McDermott] is an experienced guy, and he produces good football teams.

“I suppose if there’s a positive from our point of view, we played them last season when they had Shane Long and Matt Mills – and we’re playing them this time without those two. They are two big players to lose, and we’ve got a benchmark of how we did against them when those lads were in there.

“Our players have improved as individuals and as a squad we’re stronger so we’re a better side than we were last year. So it will be a really good contest and on the day the better team will win.”

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