The Games Come Thick and Fast: Stevenage

We’ve barely had the dust settle on the 0-0 draw at Newport and we’re already looking forward to another game of football. Stevenage visit Sincil Bank this Boxing Day with City looking to cement their place in the top six for the foreseeable future.

Stevenage visit Sincil Bank having won just twice in eight games, although hen they win they do it in style. Those two wins were 5-2 against Swindon in the FA Cup and 5-1 against Chesterfield on December 23rd. The run of form is very misleading though, they’ve recently drawn with Notts County, Coventry and Wycombe, all play-off hopefuls.

Earlier in the season City ran out 2-1 winners at the Lamex (pictured top), but not before going 1-0 down and losing Matt Green to a silly red card. A cracking fight back ensued and perhaps for the first time we saw the Danny Cowley spirit in his class of 2017/18. Another result like that would be a great platform sending us into the Forest Green game.

Stevenage are currently 16th, a false position that perhaps highlights the tough run of games they’ve had more than the fact they’re strugglers. The resounding win against Chesterfield underlined their frightening potential and the ten place gap shouldn’t be misconstrued at all. It isn’t an easy game, Stevenage are our play-off rivals and a win would be a superb outcome.

Red cards have been something of a feature in our last two games, both Accrington and Newport had players sent off in odd circumstances, the sort of cards that had they been against us we’d still be going on about now. That shouldn’t be the case on Boxing Day as the referee is Carl Boyeson, the well-travelled official who took charge of our match against Grimsby. He makes it all about the game and not about him, something Brett Huxtable and Seb Stockbridge would do well to learn from.

Stevenage, like many teams on their travels, tend to score in the second half of matches. It does seem to be a feature of League Two football that a travelling side soak up first half pressure and then look to counter in the second period when perhaps home fans get restless. Hopefully with a big crowd that won’t happen at Sincil Bank, but that stats do show, as usual, that the visitors prefer to hit back in the second half. When teams score against Stevenage is spread equally though, hopefully indicating a certain defensive frailty that can be exposed.

Stevenage have a couple of players we’re understood to covet as well, the main one being Fraser Franks. I thin I’ve spoken enough about him in the past, I’ve highlighted him as one I’d love to see at City and I’m led to believe Danny is an admirer too.

I’ve also spoke of Tom Pett before, another player I’m sure Danny has thought about more than once. He’s a tricky winger currently on the transfer list at Stevenage, but he’s still been cracking form. He’s scored four this season from 25 efforts at goal, the third highest amount of shots in the Stevenage side. He’s only managed six on target though, so unless he’s close in maybe it’s best to let him pull the trigger and warn the stewards in the car park to expected a few balls coming their way.

Up front there’s a familiar face in Matty Godden. He’s a Lincolnshire lad that had a cracking season for our opponents last time around, scoring 21 times. He hasn’t hit the net this campaign yet, but it is surely only a matter of time. Alongside him is Dan Newton, a player who has come up through the non-league scene much like Godden. He was at Tamworth last season and between them they’ve got 16 league goals from 112 shots, 46 of which have been on target.

There haven’t been too many meetings between the two sides, the last time they visited the Bank was over seven years ago. They ran out 1-0 winners that day, Chris Holroyd scored. You might remember Holroyd as the Macclesfield player who missed the last-minute sitter in April that could have cost us the National League title. It didn’t, although that defeat in 2010, coupled with loads more, did cost us our League Two spot for a while. For the record, the last time they visited our starting line up was  Anyon, Anderson, Watts, Swaibu, Hughton, Carayol, Keltie, O’Keefe, Jarrett, Clapham, and Hutchinson (not me although it may as well have been). Would any of those players get into our match day squad now? That’s how far we’ve come.

Merry Christmas.

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