Graham Westley was unable to speak to the media in the wake of Stevenage’s 2-1 win over Pompey, after a throat operation during the week.
But his assistant Dino Maamria felt the Boro players may be thanking their lucky stars for that fact after nearly letting Pompey off the hook with their second-half display.
Maamria said: ‘It’s been a tough week for Graham because he’s normally very vocal.
‘He had his operation on Wednesday and can whisper things so the team talk was interesting.
‘He’s not pleased with the performance but he is with the result.
‘The sending off was clearly a sending off.
‘But we were outplayed and sat back.
‘Against 10 men you have to keep the ball and we didn’t do that enough.
‘In an FA Cup tie, being 2-0 up is a tough scoreline.
‘Of course we’re not going to complain about it, but it’s hard.
‘Our message to the team was to push forward and try to get a third.
‘It’s massive to be through and hopefully we can go further in the competition.
‘We’d be disappointed to lose in the next round.’
Francois Zoko was ultimately the difference between the two sides, with his two first-half goals proving enough for the home team to stave off Pompey’s comeback.
Maamria said: ‘It’s good to have a top guy like Zoko in the team.
‘He will always get you something out of nothing.
‘He was clinical but he could have had a hat-trick.
‘To be fair, he hasn’t trained all week because he’s been struggling with a groin injury.
‘But a month ago we would have lost that type of game.
‘We’re improving every game and sometimes the best way of improving is to address things while you’re winning.
‘We will try to do that again.’
– STEVE WILSON