Stevenage’s season looks set to end in mid-table obscurity. Many fans understandably feel disappointed that Boro’ haven’t been able to mount a sustained playoff push this year. There have been plenty of positives throughout the campaign, although a number of negatives outweigh them. There is a decent squad in place, while the academy consistently produces a number of terrific young players. The appointment of the hugely popular Dino Maamria has lifted spirits around the Lamex Stadium too; hopes are high for next season. One of the most concerning elements of the past eight months is the club’s penchant for conceding second-half goals. Could a lack of fitness be to blame for this trend?
Did A Lack of Fitness Hamper Stevenage?
The boss highlighted the issue in his post-match interview after his side’s insipid 2-0 loss to neighbours Cambridge. The 46-year old said: “I know we need to get fitter because in the last couple of games we ran out of legs.”
“Fitness,” he added, “you have got to build up over a period of time.”
Stevenage were hit by a brace from the returning Barry Corr, who came off the bench to secure all three points for his side in the second half. If each of our matches ended after 45 minutes, Stevenage would be third in the table; leading in 17 of our 43 matches at the break. It’s been level at the interval in a further 15 of those games too! Conceding second-half goals has been a clear Achilles heel this campaign. And this is clearly an issue that has been identified by Maamria.
Notable examples this season include Accrington turning around a two-goal deficit to take all three points at the Wham Stadium in February. Crewe also came from 2-0 down to secure a precious point in their fight for survival. Boro’ were also en-route to securing an impressive point at high-flying Notts County. We conceded twice in the last 13 minutes, however, and were left with nothing to show for our endeavour. Kevin Nolan’s side were struggling for form at the time but still managed to break down their opponents late in the game. They look on-course for the play-offs, which will be previewed by Betfair football tips when they start on 26 May. Their experts will provide betting tips and pointers for each of the games; four teams battling for a place in the third tier.
A Silver Lining?
One of the positives for Stevenage this season, meanwhile, has been the emergence of Ben Wilmot. Awarded League Two EFL Apprentice of the Year at the start of April, the defender has been heavily linked with a number of Premier League clubs. Those clubs include Spurs and Watford among others. Boro’ will be desperate to hang onto him for another season, along with winger Ben Kennedy; a man also linked with a move away this season.
Dino Maamria sees a lack of fitness as an issue and must address the problem over the summer months. If Stevenage can stretch our dominant first half performances across the full 90 minutes, we’ll be competing for automatic promotion next season. First, the Tunisian boss must ensure that our lacklustre second halves are a thing of the past.