Stevenage avoided an FA Cup shock on 4 November as they eased past Nantwich Town with a comfortable and professional 5-0 success against the non-league side. Darren Sarll’s side have been inconsistent so far this campaign and the manager took no risks during this potential banana-skin of a fixture and they have been rewarded with a place in the second round of the competition.
Source: Stevenage FC via Twitter
Despite a mixed set of results in October, Stevenage remain 11th in League Two and are far from the finished article. Coach Darren Sarll is hugely passionate about the club and regularly reminds supporters of his desire to guide Boro to promotion. The 34-year-old almost steered the club into the top seven last year. Four defeats in their last six outings, however, put pay to their playoff hopes.
Inconsistencies have blighted their season so far. Sarll has come out fighting, although he will need to ensure his young side can turn things around in the league. Stevenage have often been accused of being a little lightweight in midfield with young players such as Dale Gorman and Tom Pett occasionally getting overrun. This is an area of concern for fans. They’ve also been dealt a blow with the news that Ben Kennedy has undergone surgery and will be out for at least six weeks. The Northern Irishman offers them a creative outlet, and has also been linked with a number of Championship clubs this season.
Form Before The FA Cup…
Sarll publicly lambasted his players following their disastrous 7-1 defeat at the hands of promotion candidates Luton. It worked the oracle, as his team responded with a 3-2 success against Accrington just three days later. That victory over John Coleman’s side should have sparked an upturn in fortunes. Boro suffered back-to-back defeats, however, against lowly Forest Green and Yeovil. The latter went down to nine men but were already 3-0 up by this point; Stevenage struggling to get a foothold during the 90 minutes.
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The partnership of Danny Newton and Matt Godden worked wonders during Stevenage’s FA Cup success; Sarll opting to name his strongest 11 for the 5-0 victory at the Lamex. Godden missed the Yeovil match through injury. but netted a hat-trick on his return. That double act looks set to flourish as the season progresses. That attacking performance will surely give the side plenty of confidence going forward. The aim now is to get back to winning ways following a run of three defeats in four.
Resting players is a hugely tempting prospect for Football League managers when facing non-league opposition. Sarll recognised the importance of the competition, though, and his side’s need to build momentum too. Joe Martin laid on four assists and he can take plenty of confidence from that. It’s also a rare clean sheet for the back four to build on.
FA Cup: The Start of a Fresh Run?
Boro are a streaky side who tend to embark upon winning runs. One example is the club picking up three successive victories against Morecambe, Port Vale, and Carlisle during September. The same also occurred just a month earlier. The club also won 11 of 14 at the beginning of 2017. There is hope that a similar run could be achieved once again, helping propel them towards the play-off spots. During that sequence, Stevenage were amongst the most popular League Two bets each weekend, particularly when playing at home. Many football fans regularly included Boro alongside in-form Premier League sides in their weekly accumulators, taking inspiration from sites such as Oddschecker, which offers football tips on a daily basis.
Source: Layth via Twitter
Sarll’s men are still a work in progress and they clearly enjoy playing for the manager. The 34-year-old is hugely passionate and is able to get the best out of his young squad. The occasional moment of naivety, however, has cost them points in recent weeks. Five goals and a clean sheet is the perfect response. Those worrying about the remainder of the season can take heart from the fact that Boro could embark upon another unbeaten run at any given point.
Some Football League clubs may deride the FA Cup. For an out-of-form side like Stevenage, though, it can be just the tonic. While there is still pressure, it gives them the chance to stop worrying about their league position and concentrate on returning to winning ways. As a result, it should hopefully kick-start an upturn in fortunes.