Stevenage manager Graham Westley gave his reaction to the 3-1 win at Tonbridge Angels and started by saying it was very much a question of getting the job done on the night.
He told us, "It was a chance to give the full squad a run out tonight. I said to them beforehand, you don’t get any 'gimmes' at a club like Tonbridge. With respect it was going to a big fixture, a game they were going to try and win, they were going to give heart and soul and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They worked very very hard, they went right the way through the 90 minutes.
"At this stage we haven’t had the chance to really get your fitness together to dominate the physical side of it. It was a tough encounter which needed winning."
Two of the goals tonight came from headers with the gaffer pleased at his side's attacking threat from corners and free-kicks: "I think there’s a positive in pre-season which is that goals are being scored from set-pieces. The negative is that not enough are being scored in open play. I guess you can look at Darius’ absence, Calvin’s absence, Adam Marriott’s absence at times and understand why the frontline’s not been firing as strongly as it might do. Nonetheless we need to start sharpening up and developing things so that Tom isn’t the only element of creativity in the team.
"There were chances in the first half for some of the younger players and they can probably look at Adam’s finish (Boro's third goal) and think 'that’s the way to do it. You want people who are going to be that clinical with their chances, when it drops down you’ve got to be urgent, you’ve got to decisive. It was a strong finish from him."
After Stevenage had taken a 1-0 lead into the break, Tonbridge equalised with a smart finish following a cross from Boro's right flank, but Westley was quick to defend his young players.
"We haven’t done any work really with Jo in a wide area and George at right-back," he said, "so in terms of first team habits we’ve got young players coming through. It was quite a simple defensive moment, a simple element of defensive organisation that you’d hope if that was Tom and Ronnie or two senior players you’d hope that they’d solve that problem without it coming to anything. That’s all part of the learning process, you have to make mistakes sometimes and fall off the bike, so as to speak, to learn how to ride it."
Stevenage's pre-season schedule continues this weekend with a trip to Chesham United on Saturday and GW said it was was pretty much 'same again' for his men.
"Pre-season is all about facing the next challenge, not taking it for granted and respecting the opposition. I’d have taken 3-1 at the start of the night tonight. We came here to win the football match, in the end that’s our job to be able to win football matches one way or another. The team has produced two wins, two draws and just a single defeat now. We’ve had players in and out, we’ve had injuries that players have been carrying and we’ve worked our way to those results.
"That's 'eight points' from five games. If we started the season we’d probably be saying that’s an alright start, it’d probably have us in the top seven and have us up and running. From my point of view we’re working away at the jobs, we’re facing the problems and challenges, taking them head on. So far so good. On the whole I’m pretty pleased with where we are.
"Obviously I’d sooner not have knocks. You don’t want to look in the stand and see the likes of Ronnie and Whelps, Calvin and Darius and Beardo sitting there. You don’t want lads coming off with knocks and strains and so on, it’s going to be a busy treatment room on Thursday. But that’s the nature of pre-season. It’s the way it is.
"Obviously when we start to get one or two back on the training ground start strengthening them up and in the last two and half weeks now until the start of the season we’ve got to make sure we get ourselves in the best possible shape.
"We mustn’t either get too focused on that opening day. Too often you can make that mistake, you get so focused on the opening day you forget you’ve got the first half a dozen games to get under your belt. We need to get off to a strong start over those half a dozen games, we need to prepare to learn, we need to prepare to develop, we need to prepare to back the squad as it comes alive in a competitive environment and that first half a dozen games is going to be a really important settling in period for us all."