By Tony Leighton
Stevenage Manager Graham Westley hailed the "sensational achievement" of a second successive promotion after his team's npower League 2 Play-Off final victory over Torquay United at Old Trafford.
Westley led Boro into The Football League for the first time in the club's history last season and, 12 months later, they are set for League 1 after midfielder John Mousinho's 41st minute goal was enough to clinch a 1-0 win against the Gulls.
"Any Saturday when you win a game it feels fantastic," said Westley, "but today that feeling is doubled, trebled and quadrupled.
"It was a big jump to go into The Football League and the players have had to work phenomenally hard, but they kept their confidence, their work ethic and togetherness.
"I believed we'd get better and better. We always seem to finish the season strongly - we won 14 of our last 15 games (to win the Blue Square Premier) last season - and now we've had a great end to this season - to get promotion to League 1 is a sensational achievement."
Westley was reluctant to pick out individuals from what he felt was an excellent team performance, but he did have a word for goalscorer Mousinho who he signed from Wycombe Wanderers last summer.
"John's going to get the plaudits," said the Manager. "He's grown as a player, he gives you forward momentum out of the middle of the park and today it was a tremendous strike that won the game."
The Boro boss also had a sympathetic word for his opposite number Paul Buckle, who led Torquay to The League via the Blue Square Play-Offs two years ago but now has the massive disappointment of defeat that Westley himself knows only too well.
"I didn't know what to say to him," Westley said. "I shook his hand and he was magnanimous in defeat, but you choke for him.
"In 2005 I lost a Play-Off final, then in 2009 I lost in the semi-finals. The Play-Offs are brilliant and heartbreaking, and they're horrible when you're on the receiving end.
"Of course I feel for him - his side have had a tremendous season, they're a small club like ourselves and it's a fantastic achievement to get into the Play-Offs.
"His team were a credit to him in the second half today - in the first half we took the game to them and I thought we deserved to go in ahead, but in the second half they made it difficult for us and we had to produce some fantastic defending to dig ourselves out of several holes they got us into."
Magnanimous though Buckle may have been, he felt that his side could have won the match. "Congratulations to Stevenage and good luck to them," he said, "but I honestly thought we were the better team and we created the better chances.
"We're normally more efficient in front of goal than we were today. We were all over them in the second half but we just lacked the finish.
"I can't criticise my players though, because they've been excellent for me this year and I'm very proud of what we've achieved."
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