Dino Maamria was delighted to see his players overcome testing circumstances to complete a league double over Colchester United on Boxing Day…
The day could have hardly got off to a worse start for his troops as the team coach broke down on the way to the game.
Taxi’s were organised in order to ferry the squad to Colchester but a late arrival time and subsequent 15 minute delay to kick-off wasn’t used as an excuse as Stevenage inflicted only the U's third home defeat of the season in a 2-1 win.
“That is our best start to a game this season," Maamria said. "It is the first time we have scored in the first five minutes of a game. It was difficult really as we got stuck just outside here, about 45 minutes away and we had to get taxis and the rest of it but credit to the players. They stood up to adversity and there were a million excuses we could give but we asked them to find a reason to win the game and they were fantastic throughout.
“We didn’t really speak about it or make a big deal out of it. You can only control what you can control. Circumstances happen, we focused always on the game and we prepared very well the last two days.”
December hadn’t been too kind for Boro heading into the game after a difficult set of fixtures saw just one point picked up from the previous four games. However, Maamria says there was never any panic amongst the camp.
“Results have not been reflecting our performances but it was good to see it all come together day at a difficult place where they are flying at home.
“Our focus was on getting back to basics. I picked a team today full of energy, a team that will cover distances, do the basics well and play football off the back of that. I thought we did that well, especially in the first half we played good football going forward, creating many chances and I was happy with the two goals we scored.
“The second half was always going to be difficult. We had to manage that first half hour or so, we knew a goal could change it either way. I thought we were resilient, they scored late, late on and I was disappointed with the goal because I had a sub ready and for some reason I kept being ignored, being ignored and being ignored, and then they scored before giving me the sub.”
Stevenage’s first goal came from the head of Ben Nugent and although it went down as an own goal, Maamria says that the centre-back deserves the credit.
“He attacked it really well. It hit the post I think and then came back off the goalkeeper but he deserved that bit of luck. He has been working very hard and I have been working a bit with him in the background in terms of his mentality as well. Hopefully that goal will give him a bit more confidence as he is still young for a centre back and I thought he was fantastic today.”
Danny Newton notched his second goal in as many games to give Stevenage breathing room in the game following a superb team move from one end of the pitch to the other.
Although eager to praise his forward, Maamria says he was just one of many excellent performers on the day, including 18 year old Arthur Iontton.
“We miss Danny Newton when he is not in the team. He gives us that tenacity that Stevenage Football Club is all about. He pressed from the front, he works all day and like you said, he scored a brilliant goal that started from the edge of our box. A fantastic team goal and that is the type of goal we were talking about before the game in terms of energy, leg work and going forward in numbers. It was fantastic to see.
“There were so many big players today though. Arthur Iontton, 18 years old, playing his second game in four days. He has almost been thrown into the lions den, his first game against flying Mansfield and then second game Colchester away, you couldn’t get two more difficult games than those two.
“He stood up to it today, he was a man mountain in the middle of the park and if he carries on like that he won’t be here long.”