Ooh, it feels so good to be coming back home for a change – not least after three points on the road. More of the same please Boro’! It doesn’t half feel good to see us win at the moment. That could well be down to us being starved of good times for, well, the second half of 2019 and nearly all of 2020. But to now look back on three wins from our last four on the road? Well, we can be brave and afford to start looking upwards now – can’t we?
Next up indoors is Walsall. And there’s a really tenuous link between the Reds midweek and the Saddlers this weekend. In battling to a 1-1 draw at the Banks’s Stadium in early December, Boro’ conceded a stoppage time leveller from the penalty spot. History came so close to repeating itself at the People’s Pension Stadium on Tuesday. Thankfully, our man Stockers was equal to the task on this occasion and sets us up nicely for this one…
The Details: Stevenage v Walsall
Where’s the game?
We’re breaking up a hectic run of five games on the road with a quick splash-and-dash return to the Lamex. Don’t forget the toothbrushes on the way back out lads…
Can I watch Stevenage v Walsall?
If you’re in the mood for some live action from the Lamex this weekend, get yourself one of those iFollow Match Passes. Yours for a tenner, you won’t be complaining if we get an Elliott Osborne stunner again. Well, you might if it comes when we’re 3-0 down. But we’ll worry about that after you get your stream up and running.
How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?
While promising, Boro’ are still unable to put a run together. To be fair, that does go either way. But we’ve not recorded back-to-back results since a six-point haul either side of New Year’s Day. Each fixture since has yielded a different result, and we’d hope that isn’t going to become a thing. We couldn’t cope with it. All that said, we’ve collected 11 points from a potential 24 and that puts us right in the middle of the table.
Suddenly, we’ve now played more games than anyone else around us in the table. That’s not such an issue with the lovely little gap we have between us and those below. Yet, that does mean the idea that we can leap up four or five places with three points this weekend comes with the caveat of others having games in hand. Mind you, it does make for a very interesting clash at Port Vale after this outing. More on that later. One match at a time…
… and how are the Saddlers doing right now?
It’s been quite the up-and-down tale for the Saddlers over the past two months or so. The Midlands side put four straight wins on the board during December. But the festive period returned zero points from three games. And with a few draws thrown in the mix, a 3-1 win at Port Vale on 23 January is their only victory in eight League Two fixtures. At this rate, a promotion push and a relegation battle are both outside bets for them.
Casting our gaze across the SoccerStats.com data, we can obviously see that six points from a possible 24 isn’t great. Only Colchester United and Grimsby Town have been less on it lately. And there’s a bit more for Boro’ to sink their teeth into as well.
Walsall have conceded at least once in each of their last 16 games and are yet to keep a clean sheet on the road. Mind you, the Saddlers do score on the road; failing on only two occasions so far this season. That’s why their away record is half decent; making it a tidy 16-point haul from the 12 away days coming into this one. Again, the question is whether our issues in front of goal will come back to haunt us as they have so often this season?
Our story with Walsall so far
Our head-to-head with the Saddlers is a relatively short one. But it’s not a tale without its twists and turns. And a good example of that came last time out. Before that, however, a sense of drama has been there ever since our first-ever meeting back in November 2011. That day at the Lamex, we found their stopper Jimmy Walker in inspired form; forcing us to settle for a frustrating goalless draw.
Draws. That’s another feature of the tale between us and them too. Four of the last eight encounters to date have finished all square – including the two most recent games. This, weirdly, is our first home date with the Saddlers since April 2014. That day, it finished 3-2 to us in a win that came FAR too late to save our League One skins. It also means we’ve won our last two against them indoors. It’s a long-standing run. But one to keep hold of…
Who’s the referee in charge?
With all due respect to Mr Coggins, we’d prefer the EFL to name another; the Oxfordshire official not the luckiest of omens for us. In five past meetings, we’ve won only once on his watch. That was a good day, to be fair; a nice 4-1 win over Barnet in April 2018. But since then, he’s taken charge of – but not been the reason for – three straight defeats. The last of those was our Leasing.com Trophy Quarter Final defeat at Exeter City last season.
In fact, all three of our last encounters with Mr Coggins came against the Grecians. What the chuff is that about. That makes us feel slightly better about things. Even if he did give Luther his marching orders at Sid James’ Park in October 2018.
This term, Mr Coggins has 16 appointments under his belt. Most of his time in the middle has come in League One. But League Two is no stranger to him either. With a total of 46 bookings, he’s averaging under three yellows per game. There are two red cards against his name too. Don’t worry about them, however. It’s more than two months since he last sent someone off. Maybe his New Year’s Resolution is to keep all 22 players on the pitch.
We didn’t ask him.
And we’re not going to.
Last Time Out: Exeter City 3-0 Stevenage, 21 January 2020
Stevenage v Walsall: Our verdict?
After erring on the side of caution and remaining rooted in reality over the past few weeks, we feel inclined to flex our optimism. With the chances we’ve created recently, can we say that a cushy score might be inbound? It may go against every instinct we have, but go we shall: 3-1 Boro’. No refunds.