25 November 2023

Steve Evans delighted as Stevenage overcome injury doubts and broken down bus

25 November 2023

Steve Evans hailed his Stevenage side’s resilience after they overcame injury doubts and travel disruption ahead of their 3-0 win at Fleetwood.

The visitors ran out convincing winners at Highbury thanks to Jamie Reid’s eighth-minute strike and second-half goals from Ben Thompson and Elliot List.

And the performance delighted Evans, especially in light of their far-from-ideal build-up, which included the team bus breaking down on their drive north on Friday.

Evans, who side remain fourth in the table, said: “I thought it was a really good away performance.

“We played some really good football in the first half. We knew we’d have to work hard, but I must admit, as I’m watching the game, I don’t really remember them creating a clear chance that I thought they’d score from.

“There were wide free-kicks and corners that they sent in, but the one thing they weren’t going to do was outmuscle us and bully us, like they do to other teams. They weren’t going to do that to us.

“Our big boys stood strong and got good blocks in when they needed to.

“All three front boys were touch and go before the game – Jordan Roberts and Jamie Reid have both done a warm-up since last Saturday, that’s all they’ve done, warm up with the team on Thursday.

“And when we travelled north yesterday our team coach broke down, so we’ve had all sorts of issues that meant we couldn’t train properly. We had to use our experience and we spoke to Preston, who organised some indoor facilities, so we were still able to get the players’ legs moving.

“So when you consider those factors and that our front three have hardly been on the training ground, it demonstrates what efforts they’ve given us today.”

Fleetwood’s defeat put an end to a six-game unbeaten run and boss Lee Johnson could not hide his disappointment as they missed a chance to climb out of the bottom four.

Despite hitting the bar twice, Johnson urged his side to impose themselves in the early stages of games.

“It was really disappointing performance,” he said. “I can imagine our supporters are scratching their heads.

“Again we’ve taken that punch on the nose in terms of the goal with the first real entry into our box by the opposition and that’s happened far too many times at this club.

“And I don’t think they deserve that to be honest, so it’s my job to find a way of getting the boys going when the atmosphere isn’t like a Blackpool game, in which it’s easy to think forward, play forward and be aggressive in our tempo in those early stages, because we can’t keep giving teams head starts.

“We were all right in the majority of our play today, in our box-to-box play and we were quite fluid in our possession and moving the ball.

“Phoenix Patterson was excellent for us in his dynamism, we just lacked a bit of quality in the final third. On a number of occasions we got in some great areas and couldn’t pick somebody out or we didn’t have the composure at the levels we’ve had in recent weeks.

“We need to show a lot more pitch personality in the early stages of games and I’ve told the two or three players that very strongly.”

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