Westley points at fatigue after first pre-season defeat

STEVENAGE boss Graham Westley said Tuesday night’s defeat to Watford was the result of fatigue after another gruelling week of pre-season.

STEVENAGE boss Graham Westley said Tuesday night’s defeat to Watford was the result of fatigue after another gruelling week of pre-season.

Second half strikes from Stephen McGinn and Marvin Sordell brought Boro’s unbeaten pre-season to an end and, although there were a couple of good moments, Westley admitted the npower Championship side were deserved winners on the night.

“We played good football in the first half and we had some good moments but once our legs ran out, and they certainly did in the second half, we got stretched a little bit and they got around the back of us and we paid the price by conceding two goals,” said Westley after the match.

“I thought we were bright for the first half-hour of the game and we had some decent chances. They got back into it in the second half and I think the boys felt a little bit fatigued physically and mentally. They had no day off this week and I don’t want to make them sound like pampered superstars because they are anything but, but they looked a bit leg-weary in the second half and I think you could see that we hadn’t prepared as we would normally do for a league game.”

Westley also said skipper Mark Roberts was more than unhappy that the linesman failed to raise his flag for both the Hornets’ goals, especially the second which saw nearly everyone in the stadium looking expectedly at the referee’s assistant.

Westley added: “Robbo believes both of them were offside, but we haven’t dropped points so I suppose our fury is less than it would be in normal circumstances.

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“There were some good moments towards the end when we had some fresh legs come on but Watford deserved the win on the night.”

Boro started the match brightly and nearly made the breakthrough after 10 minutes when Ronnie Henry’s right-wing cross was met by a diving header from Yemi Odubade which was well saved by Rene Gilmartin in the Watford goal.

The match was fairly even for large parts of the first half and both sides struggled to forge any meaningful chances at goal.

New signing Peter Winn continued to look sharp on the left side of midfield and he produced two excellent crosses that his teammates should have done better to get on the end of.

Watford nearly went ahead after 25 minutes when Piero Mingola’s lovely dinked through-ball caught the Boro defence napping and it was left to Chris Day to produce a good save at the feet of Danny Graham.

There were a few nervy moments in the Boro penalty area after crosses into the box but each time Watford failed to capitalise as the teams went into half time all square.

Watford started the second half the brighter team as they looked to keep the ball better than they had in the first half.

However, it was Boro who could, and should, have taken the lead against the run of play when Winn’s fierce effort from 10 yards brought a superb parried save from the Watford ‘keeper.

Hornets midfielder Stephen McGinn nearly scored a great goal moments later but his curling effort from outside the area flew narrowly over Day’s crossbar.

However, the Watford man wasn’t to be denied as he broke the deadlock shortly before the hour mark when he bundled home Graham’s teasing square ball from close range.

Unsurprisingly, Watford began to dominate the match thereafter as Boro struggled to get hold of the ball for long enough periods to really trouble the visitors.

The game was effectively put to bed with 15 minutes remaining after Boro failed to clear their lines and Graham’s header back into the danger zone allowed the unmarked Sordell to fire past a helpless Day, despite Boro’s protests for offside.

Although the game was all but over, Boro had two chances to reduce the deficit in the remaining minutes.

Firstly, substitute Stacy Long was desperately unlucky to see his rasping drive acrobatically tipped over the bar by Gilmartin following Bas Savage’s neat knock down.

And three minutes from time, fellow substitute Chris Beardsley fired a shot just over after new boy Mousinho had played the striker in on goal.

A disappointing result for Westley’s team, but there were certainly a few positive individual performances that the Boro boss will be pleased with.