Stevenage ready for tough test at Portsmouth

PUBLISHED: 16:19 24 November 2016

Stevenage FC manager Darren Sarll. Picture: DANNY LOO

Stevenage FC manager Darren Sarll. Picture: DANNY LOO

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Stevenage boss Darren Sarll has urged his players to ‘play the team, not the club’ as they head to Fratton Park to face Portsmouth on Saturday.

The former Premier League side, and two-time FA Cup winners, have been in League Two since off the field woes saw them plummet from the top division and suffer three relegations.

While still attracting 16,000 strong crowds on the south coast, Portsmouth remain one of the big hitters in the division, but Sarll, whose side is on a three-match league unbeaten streak, is more than confident his side can match Paul Cook’s men.

He said: “With Pompey you have to strip it back, play the football team, don’t play the football club.

“They are in an elite group of sides in our league, so they are a tough team.

“I think in League Two this year that group of elite teams has grown, last year it was fewer, this year it’s a lot more, how many do you put in there?

“I’d like to put ourselves in there, actually I’d put ourselves in that group, I’m arrogant to think that, why not?

“If we continue our current developmental pace and growth that we are showing absolutely no reason why not and I back my boys to the dying day.”

Sarll was full of praise for his opposite number, Cook, ahead of the clash.

“There are some good people there,” he said.

“Paul Cook’s excellent, I loved watching his Chesterfield side when they were going through League Two and into League One, and he has acquired a very select few players to play for Portsmouth, which Portsmouth can do, but strip it back, play the football team.

“The football club is a League Two football club, Stevenage are a League Two football club.

“Jobi McAnuff has not got to tackle their board of directors or their chairman or any of the 16,000 that are behind them, he has got to concentrate on the 11 in front of him.”

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