Stevenage have come a long way - manager Graham Westley

Stevenage manager Graham Westley says his team have come a long way during their maiden football league season.

They have the opportunity to clinch a second consecutive promotion if they can beat Torquay in Saturday's League Two play-off final at Old Trafford.

Westley told BBC Look East: "I think they're ready to do it and it would be an unbelievable achievement if they do.

"They've shown me that they're capable of huge improvement and that they've got a huge will to win."

Westley's side finished sixth in League Two following a remarkable second half of the season. They sat in 18th place in mid-January, but a run of results which included nine wins in 11 games propelled them into a play-off spot.

And after a convincing 3-0 aggregate semi-final victory against Accrington, the Boro boss believes they can overcome the Gulls to claim a place in League One.

"The boys have come into the Football League, come sixth at the first attempt, and put in an unbelievable show since mid-January - that counts for a lot," said Westley.

"In past years we've made it to the play-offs and I've made light of getting there, but I think I was wrong - I think qualifying for the play-offs is a hell of an achievement.

"The play-off semi final counted for even more - under pressure they put in two really solid performances and they showed that they've come a long way.

"And it won't surprise me at all if they win at the weekend - they've got a lot of big game experience, and they've come a long way as a team this season."

Westley is in his second spell as Stevenage manager, and has overseen the most successful period of the club's history.

He led the Hertfordshire club to the FA Trophy and the semi-finals of the Conference play-offs in 2009, then to the Blue Square Premier title last season, as well as another appearance in the Trophy final at Wembley where they were beaten by Barrow in extra time.

Yet Westley has come under criticism from some quarters this season for his side's style of play - criticism he puts down to naivety.

"People don't like to see people on the up, it brings a lot of jealousy, and you take a lot of flack - we've certainly taken our fair share of flack this season," he said.

"But people who watch us regularly know we're a decent outfit - we care for the football and we're positive in our play.

"People who don't watch us buy into the myths that get created, but in time the truth comes out so I'm not worried about that.

"We're intelligent in our play, we mix it up and we're prepared to go in behind sides, but we like to pass the football as well."

Chairman Phil Wallace echoes the thoughts of his manager, and he says he struggles to understand the thinking behind those who bemoan his club's achievements.

"[The criticism] is really annoying to be frank. When I hear some of the comments from other managers and TV pundits, it's not right and it's not even handed," said Wallace.

"We had the best defensive record in League Two and the fourth best defensive record in the whole of the Football League - defence is an important part of football and I think that should be applauded.

"If you run a business, you want to be proud of that business and I really am proud of what we've done. We're a debt free club, we're solvent and we keep on having success."

And Wallace, who has been at the helm at Broadhall Way for over a decade, is understandably excited ahead of Stevenage's third appearance in a final in four seasons.

"It's great to be in the final and win or lose it will be a great day out for us. You wouldn't want to bet against us in anything that we do," he added.

"We've been very successful for some years now and we continue to step up to the next level - we carry on achieving, not only on the pitch but off the pitch as well.

"Can we do it? It's 50/50 but of course we can do it, yes."

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