Pro­mo­tion push back on track...

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Jor­dan Davies

STEVE­NAGE boss Dar­ren Sarll be­lieves a con­vinc­ing vic­tory over pro­mo­tion ri­vals Portm­south was the per­fect way to con­quer an emo­tion­ally drain­ing week.

Boro went into the break two goals to the good fol­low­ing strikes from skip­per Jack King and in­form striker Matt God­den.

Jobi McAnuff made sure of the result with a fine fin­ish, while sub­sti­tute Conor Chap­lin missed a con­so­la­tion penalty for the vis­i­tors in the dy­ing mo­ments.

Pom­pey also fin­ished the game with ten men, as Chris­tian Burgess topped off a mis­er­able af­ter­noon with his sec­ond book­ing with 15 min­utes re­main­ing.

Steve­nage suf­fered mid­week de­feat in a trip to Black­pool, and Sarll spoke of his pride at how his play­ers dealt with the phys­i­cal and men­tal strains im­posed on them.

He said: “I can’t tell you how tough this seven days has been emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally.

“For them to get them­selves to­gether and put in a per­for­mance like that is in­cred­i­ble.

“There was so much en­ergy and be­lief in what we did, and to see your team do what they have been asked to do un­der pres­sure and tired­ness – there is no bet­ter mo­ment.”

Sarll also re­it­er­ated the huge im­por­tance of his side’s up­com­ing

derby clash against Cam­bridge, sug­gest­ing that where they are in the ta­ble is in­signif­i­cant to what they want to achieve as a team.

“It’s im­por­tant we win Satur­day, of course,” he added.

“There are mur­murs of pro­mo­tion, but I don’t care whether we are 24th, 19th, 12th, all I want to do is beat Cam­bridge.”

Boro ar­guably should have gone ahead ear­lier than they did, as Josh McQuoid’s fol­low-up from a David Forde fum­ble clearly crossed the line be­fore Tom Davies’ last­ditch clear­ance.

But they did hit the net in the 16th minute as Luke Wilkin­son’s spec­tac­u­lar long-range ef­fort smacked the bar, leav­ing King with a sim­ple header from six yards. They made it two ten min­utes later as God­den snuck in be­hind the Pom­pey de­fence and – with all the com­po­sure in the world – vol­ley home Char­lie Lee’s lofted cross, net­ting his 13th goal in 15 ap­pear­ances in 2017. Steve­nage then made sure of the three points as McAnuff pounced on an er­ror at the back in the 46th minute to find the bot­tom cor­ner from the left.

Burgess made matters worse af­ter pick­ing up his sec­ond yel­low for a clumsy chal­lenge on God­den late on, while Chap­lin missed a penalty in the dy­ing mo­ments with a poorly-ex­e­cuted chip.

Portsmouth boss Paul Cook was an an­i­mated fig­ure on the touch­line, and was in­volved in sev­eral heated ex­changes with the home bench, but he re­fused to be drawn on that for their loss.

“I’m not go­ing to dis­cuss that with you,” he said.

“Yes I was frus­trated and yes we had spo­ken dur­ing the game but it was noth­ing out of the or­di­nary from a typ­i­cal League Two match.

“I felt some de­ci­sions went against us, and vice versa, but we lost 3-0 away from home and that sim­ply isn’t good enough from us.”

Look­ing ahead to their next league match at home to New­port, Cook em­pha­sised the need to fo­cus on their pre­vi­ous three-game win­ning run be­fore their hum­bling this week­end.

“We’ve been playing re­ally well th­ese last few weeks and we need to remember that when we pre­pare for next week, oth­er­wise we’ll get beat again – sim­ple as that,” he added.

“De­fen­sively it was not good enough from us out there, but we will move on.

“We are still in a great po­si­tion, we have fan­tas­tic fans – the sea­son isn’t over af­ter one loss like this.”

LONG LIVE THE KING: Jack King pow­ers in a header for Steve­nage’s opener


GOOD ANUFF: Jobi McAnuff celebrates scor­ing Steve­nage’s third goal as, in­set, Matt God­den notches the sec­ond


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