Bluffer's guide to the play-offs: Stevenage
We asked the chaps from the excellent FC Boro blog to fill us in on Stevenage’s chances in the upcoming play-offs, ahead of their semi-final with Accrington Stanley. Here are their thoughts…
Feeling confident? How’s your form?
I am quietly confident. It’s going to be very difficult to beat both Accrington and then whoever we get in the final, but we have a great defensive record and are very hard to beat both home and away. Graham Westley is a very good motivator and will love nothing more than the challenge of the playoffs.
Form wise, we have been average in the last 4-6 weeks. The pressure began to tell and we started slipping up at places we were expected to win. The defeat at Northampton hurt us in particular. We had two players controversially sent off and they will now miss the playoffs.
Up to now, would you judge your season so far as a success or did you have an eye on the automatic spots?
There can only be one answer. It has to be judged as a success. We’ve done superbly in our first season in the Football League. We’ve achieved a playoff place and even beat the likes of MK Dons and Newcastle in the FA Cup. We never had an eye on automatic promotion really. This season has just been about taking one game at a time and seeing where we finish.
Did you have the upper hand over your semi-final opponents in the games you’ve played against them already this season?
No, not really. We got beat 1-0 at the Crown Ground in November on a poor pitch. It was an awful game which no team deserved to get anything out of, but they got the goal and we couldn’t reply.
The home game was one of the most frustrating games of the season. We were the better side and took a 2-0 lead with about 2 minutes remaining. However, we collapsed, which is very unlike us and let the lead slip. They equalised with seconds remaining and took a point. To add salt into the wounds, the Accrington players celebrated in front of our supporters and dugout area.
Do you think your players have a big-game mentality? Will they step up?
This is a difficult question. The players have proved that they can perform on the big stage. See what happened to Newcastle in the FA Cup, but there have also been big games during the season where we have frozen. Northampton was the perfect example of this. It was a big game, where we could have clinched a playoff place, but we never turned up. Northampton were well up for the game and they got the result they needed.
Who will be your key man?
If he’s fit, Lawrie Wilson. He’s been very consistent all season and is the man in form at the moment. His bursts down the right have led to a lot of our goals and he is even chipping in himself now. He was injured for the last two games and we missed him. He will be a big boost to the side if he’s fit and will give the Accrington left back something to think about.
Who is the semi-final opposition’s dangerman?
I thought that they were quite a useful side when they came down to Broadhall Way. They knock the ball about well and have the likes of Ryan and McConville that can score goals. I’m going to go for Ryan. He is their tricky winger, who is a bit of a set-piece specialist.
If you get through, who would you prefer in the final?
I would prefer Shrewsbury because they are known to choke in the final. We have never beaten Torquay in about 6 attempts, so I would like to avoid them if possible. That’s not to say Shrewsbury are a bad side. They arguably should be going up automatically after the “phantom” goal scored by Wycombe against them seems to have cost them big time.
Who’s going to score your winning goal in the final…?
John Mousinho. It would be fitting for Mousinho to come back and score the winner after missing the final game of the season as well as the playoffs. He’s our penalty taker as well, so I can see it.