Stevenage boss Dino Maamria reflects on ‘flat’ derby defeat against Cambridge

PUBLISHED: 20:36 01 September 2018 | UPDATED: 20:36 01 September 2018

Andronicos Georgiou of Stevenage is crowded out by Cambridge United players in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

Andronicos Georgiou of Stevenage is crowded out by Cambridge United players in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Bitterly disappointed Stevenage boss Dino Maamria has been reflecting on his side’s 1-0 derby defeat by Cambridge United at the Lamex on Saturday.

Danny Newton of Stevenage shows sublime touch to control a ball dropping over his shoulder in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOODanny Newton of Stevenage shows sublime touch to control a ball dropping over his shoulder in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

A first half goal from former Liverpool academy youngster David Amoo in front of 2,998 fans was enough to seal only the second win of the season for the U’s.

The loss meant Boro slipped to 13th place in League Two after taking one point from the last nine after a bright start to the season.

The charismatic 46-year-old was clearly frustrated at his team’s performance when he spoke to CometSport after the match.

Analysing the match he said: “It was a very disappointing performance. It was a big game for us. I thought we were ready.

Luke Wilkinson of Stevenage plays a long pass in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOLuke Wilkinson of Stevenage plays a long pass in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

“Goals change games. It’s very disappointing for me. It’s very disappointing for the fans that turned up in their numbers.

“We owe them a performance big time. It was a flat performance in a big derby game.”

“Fair play to Cambridge they worked very hard for the win. They deserved it.

“We were poor.”

Andronicos Georgiou of Stevenage chases a ball in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOAndronicos Georgiou of Stevenage chases a ball in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

Stevenage made eight changes from the side that beat Swansea City U23s 5-0 with Andronicos Georgiou, Joel Byrom and Danny Newton the Boro players to keep their places from the impressive rout over the young Swans on Tuesday.

Maamria also made five changes from the team that fell 2-0 to Yeovil last Saturday.

The boss also changed formation to play with a back three instead of four, but insisted the setback against Joe Dunne’s side was not down to the switch.

He said: “I didn’t want to make five changes from the last [league] game [against Yeovil].

Alex Revell of Stevenage looks to put in a cross in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOAlex Revell of Stevenage looks to put in a cross in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

“I didn’t want to make changes. Ben Kennedy was sick last week. He wasn’t 100 per cent fit.

“I changed the system. I thought we were too open as a back four so I changed to a back three which I thought would give us a chance to play from the back a little bit more.

“The goal changed the momentum of the game. It wasn’t the system. It was quite a hot afternoon. The game picked up after they scored the goal.”

Cambridge’s victory was only their second of the season as they rose four places to 17th after struggling this term.

Alex Revell of Stevenage bites off more than he can chew in a challenge with George Taft of Cambridge United in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOAlex Revell of Stevenage bites off more than he can chew in a challenge with George Taft of Cambridge United in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

Amoo scored his first goal of the season as the U’s ended a run of back-to-back league defeats at Broadhall Way.

Maamria added: “Cambridge haven’t been scoring a lot of goals and have been conceding a lot of goals.

Their two centre-backs are not comfortable on the ball. We’ve been working on putting balls in the box, making them work for it. But we didn’t do it.

“The goal changed the game. It threw us back a little bit.

Steve Seddon of Stevenage gets in the mix in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOSteve Seddon of Stevenage gets in the mix in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

“That’s what derby games are about. You’ve got to keep your head in them and concentrate on the job in hand.”

With Boro having a rare week without any midweek games Maamria is eager to get back to basics at the club’s training ground at Bragbury End.

The club have signed a raft of new players over the summer in a bid to revamp the squad, which prior to Saturday’s match had appeared to give Boro a boost.

However the 1-0 defeat was arguably the worst performance of the season – and Maamria can’t wait to spend time working with his men over the next few days.

Luther Wildin of Stevenage is tackled by Reggie Lambe of Cambridge United in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOLuther Wildin of Stevenage is tackled by Reggie Lambe of Cambridge United in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

He explained: “We’ve got 15 new players in. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the training ground.

“We’ve been playing Saturday/Tuesday, Saturday/Tuesday which limits you to the technical work you can do on the training ground – especially with the miles we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks [to Forest Green and Yeovil].

“It’s great [not to have a game this week]. We can regroup.”

Maamria denied that he had been working his side too hard in response to CometSport querying why the side looked tired and lethargic against their near rivals.

Steve Seddon of Stevenage in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOSteve Seddon of Stevenage in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

To the contrary, he insisted he would work the team harder due to the gap in matches until next Saturday’s against Macclesfield Town at the Lamex.

He said: “I think we need to do more physical work. We need to work harder. Training has been light as we need to keep players fit.

“We weren’t very good with the ball. We didn’t create anything. Our creativity wasn’t good... you look at that team and it looks like the players haven’t played together before.

“It shows the players have only been together for seven/eight weeks. It’s not an excuse. We need to get better.”

Luke Wilkinson of Stevenage powers in a header at goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOLuke Wilkinson of Stevenage powers in a header at goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Cambridge Utd at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

Follow sports reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29 and @comet_layth.

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