Dino Maamria was delighted to see his side pick up their eighth home win of the league season in Saturday's testing contest against Crawley Town...
An impressive first half saw a Dominic Poleon strike for the visitors sandwiched between a James Ball brace, before Crawley came on strong in the second half to test Stevenage's resistence.
Despite one or two nervy moments, Maamria's men stepped up to the challenge and bounced back from the previous weekend's defeat to stay within the promotion picture.
“First half we were very good," Maamria said. We played on the front foot and I thought we were very unlucky to concede. We should have scored a couple more and it is a good start for us to start the first half like that - we have been talking about that a lot. I thought the first half we started nice and bright, second half was always going to be difficult.
“We tried not to hang on to it, but three big players came off injured today through the spine of the team in Alex Revell, Scott Cuthbert and Joel Byrom. We had to make three changes forced on us, but I thought the resilience the players showes, the will to win, the work rate, the togetherness, it was second to none.”
“I think that when a team has those things, they will go very far. Second half we were not at our best, but we had to dig deep to get three points and we did. The most important thing about today was to get the win, and we did that.”
An unexpected injury to Alex Revell inside 10 minutes allowed James Ball to enter the fray as a second striker. Despite being best known to Stevenage fans as a central midfielder, Ball grabbed the opportunity with both hands as two first half goals helped his side to victory.
“Bally is a versatile player, he can play many positions," Maamria said. "I saw him play centre-forward last season for Stockport County and he looks a natural there. I thought he took his goals pretty well and he could have scored in the second half as well for his hat-trick.
"Apart from his goals, I think he works really hard for the team and he showed a lot of maturity in that position," Maamria added. "Him and Danny Newton were terrific. Newton ran his socks off after he had been struggling - like one of two others - with niggles. He has always put his shirt there and put up a fight for the team. Credit to him."
Saturday's game also saw a debut for Moses Makasi after signing on loan from West Ham just one day prior. Maamria was impressed with what he saw.
"He was fantastic, he is just what we needed. I think our team had been crying out for creativity there, and it showed that what just one player can give us.
"In the first half he was a threat throughout. Him and Luther (James-Wildin) especially, we caused them a lot of problems on that side of the pitch. Moses is a terrific player and he can only get better. Second half he struggled a bit physically and ideally, I would have taken him off. He gave us 97 minutes. First half was about his quality and second half about his work ethic. He showed both. Hopefully he is a promising signing for us."
The stand-out characteristic shown by the team was the hard work put in from one to eleven and Maamria says he can't ask for much more from his players.
“It is what we stand for as a football club. We have got to overachieve, we have got to work harder than anyone else. We have got a group of players that are honest, they work for each other, they try and win football matches.
“We have been battered as a squad over the Christmas period. We have played a lot of games with the same group of players. We have got a small squad, and those players are giving everything.
“I have got no complaints, I have got a fantastic group of players. Sometimes things go wrong and we lose games, but we are honest to people and we always try our hardest.”
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