Dino Maamria was left with contrasting emotions following Saturday’s first point of the season after a superb away performance at Leyton Orient was marred by a refereeing decision in the first half that could have turned a point into three...
After Kurtis Guthrie appeared to be fouled inside the area, both the referee and his assistant indicated a penalty had been awarded. A few minutes later, the decision had been overturned, much to the confusion of the Stevenage boss.
“My wife asked me before I came out to please don’t talk about the referee after the game but I have seen something today that is inexplicable really. The linesman and referee gave a penalty but then they had a chat and changed their mind.
“I have never seen a referee do that. The linesman put his flag up and said penalty, the referee blew his whistle and said a penalty and a minute later he changed his mind. I don’t know. It is not like he looked at video. Both of them made that decision with their gut instinct. Then something changed.”
Despite the numerous first half set-backs, which included injuries to starting centre-backs Scott Cuthbert and Terence Vancooten, Maamria’s side went onto put in a brilliants backs-to-the-wall showing, led by the teenage centre-back duo of Luis Fernandez and Kelland Watts.
“In terms of the performance, it was a proper Stevenage performance. You saw backs to the walls in terms of my two centre backs came off first half and we ended up playing with a 17 and 19 year old in the heart of defence. To keep a clean sheet, it was an unbelievable performance from those two and they (Orient) were lucky to get the point in the end because I thought Danny Newton’s shot was going in.
“It was an outstanding performance and you saw the (reaction of) the fans who turned up in their numbers today - they saw a performance that the club can be proud of.”
The incident which saw both Scott Cuthbert and Terence Vancooten leave the pitch in pain came after the two players collided with each other as they attempted to thwart an opposition attack. Maamria says it is that commitment which is a hall-mark of his side and that he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I motivate the players to put their bodies on the line. You saw Scotty and Terrence today blocking the shot, both going for it. That is the spirit we have got, that is what we are about and that is why we got the clean sheet today. Injuries happen in football, we will galvanize ourselves and get ourselves together and move on.”
Boro will attempt to pick up a first league win of the season on Tuesday night at home to Bradford City and Maamria believes his group are trending in the right direction.
“We have got a lot of new players on the pitch and things will get better, 100%. Going forward that final decision when we hit them on the counter, that last ball let us down a little bit but the fundamental part is there. Work ethic, commitment of the players, self confidence and belief – it is all there to see.
“We had a difficult start, to lose three games is not easy and to get the decisions we are getting – some teams would crumble and not many would come back as strong as us today. That team reflected me today, and I am proud of that.”
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