sport

Westley fires Everton warning

Graham Westley has warned Everton they will not be able to play their free-flowing football on the Lamex Stadium pitch this weekend.

Roberto Martinez has thus far achieved that much sought after goal of gaining good results while playing an attractive style of football.

The Everton manager may find the going tough on Saturday evening, though, when he and his team travel 200 miles south to play Sky Bet League One side Stevenage in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Stevenage have bought an inflatable cover to protect the playing surface at their Hertfordshire home, but the signs were not good for Martinez's team earlier this week.

There was more mud than grass visible in key areas of the pitch, and Stevenage have been training on the surface, which will further cut the outfield up ahead of Saturday's game.

Westley said: "Roberto talked about the difficulties of playing on the surface at West Brom on Monday but this will definitely be a certain type of surface here. It will be like: 'Welcome to Stevenage!'

"It's not easy out there. The forecast is for more bad weather.

"It will be playable, but it will not be easy.

"The bonus from our point of view is that we know the surface, and we are geared for playing on it."

Tottenham encountered the same difficulty two years ago when they travelled to the Lamex Stadium in the cup.

A team containing Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Scott Parker struggled with the bobbly surface and they ended up playing route one football.

The tactic did not work and Stevenage deserved their goalless draw, but back on the carpet-like surface of White Hart Lane, Spurs won the replay 3-1.

Stevenage lost just once in the league after that tie - a run which took the club into the League One play-offs just two years after they were playing non-league football.

This time around it is a different story.

A "catastrophic" run of form, in Westley's words, means Stevenage are now bottom of League One, but the manager hopes another cup run will aid his team's bid for survival.

"We know what we have to do to stay in the league, which is our priority, but we know that winning a big cup game provides you with the fuel that can then underwrite the efforts that you are putting in in the league," he said.

"We are under no illusions about the importance of the game and we will sweat blood to win it."

Westley of all people, knows that Stevenage are no strangers to FA Cup upsets.

Westley led Stevenage to their biggest upset in his second of three spells as manager three years ago.

Boro beat a Newcastle side that contained the likes of Cheick Tiote, Tim Krul and Joey Barton 3-1.

The win over Reading the following year was also a significant scalp and Spurs were happy to escape with a draw in their fifth-round tie.

Boro almost pulled off another shock earlier this season when they took Everton to extra-time in the Capital One Cup.

That night only a last-gasp strike from Marouane Fellaini denied Boro a shot at penalties.

Westley expects Martinez to field a weakened team on Saturday given that Everton play Liverpool the following Tuesday.

"I am sure we will see a squad team, but I don't think we will see that as a sign of disrespect," he added.

"They have the sort of resources to put on a show with squad players."