Sarll: We must not get distracted by Pompey

Stevenage on their last visit to Fratton Park last October Picture: Joe Pepler
Stevenage on their last visit to Fratton Park last October Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Mayes is on loan at Gosport Borough. Picture: Colin Farmery

Pompey young guns challenged to make senior grade

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Darren Sarll has urged his troops to focus on playing against Pompey’s team – not the club’s size.

Stevenage venture to Fratton Park tomorrow buoyed by three successive wins on their travels.

They will face a confident Blues side which have collected 10 points from a possible 12 in recent weeks.

Boro boss Sarll admits opposition players and fans relish trips to Pompey rather than be inflicted by intimidation.

He was present in the Kenilworth Road crowd to witness the Blues’ impressive 3-1 victory on Tuesday night.

But Sarll believes his team can compete with their fourth-placed hosts – providing they are not distracted.

He told the Hertfordshire Mercury: ‘Pompey, you have to strip it back. Play the football team, don’t play the football club, play the football team.

‘With Pompey, the thing is, every other player or team in the league likes going to Fratton Park.

‘Sometimes that works for you, sometimes that works against you.

‘They are in an elite group of sides in our league. They’re a tough team. I think in League Two this year, that elitism, that group of elite teams, has grown. Last year it was fewer, this time it is more.

‘How many do you put in there? I’d like to put ourselves in there.

‘Actually, I’d put ourselves in there, I’m arrogant to think that, I’d put ourselves in that elite group of teams in League Two. Why not?

‘If we continue our current developmental pace and growth that we’re showing, absolutely no reason why not. I back my boys till the dying day.’

Stevenage are presently placed 16th in League Two – three points ahead of the relegation zone.

It demonstrates how closely-congested mid-table is at present with sides pulled both ways.

Sarll, appointed boss in February, is making solid progress with his side.

And he admits admiration for opposite number Cook for the success he achieved with previous club Chesterfield.

He added: ‘Paul Cook’s excellent. I loved watching his Chesterfield side when they went through League Two and into League One. I loved them.

‘He’s acquired a very select group of players to play for Portsmouth, which Portsmouth can do.

‘But like I said, play the football team.

‘The football club, is a League Two football club, Stevenage are a League Two football club.

‘Strip it back and it’s just a game of football.’