Stevenage v Harrogate Town: It's almost hard to believe that Boro' are now closer to the League Two playoffs than the drop zone. Could we get even nearer?
Photo: LNER poster c.1930 by Tom Purvis.

It’s almost hard to believe that Boro’ are now closer to the League Two playoffs than the drop zone. After a difficult first half of the season in which we were lumped in among the favourites to go down, some are even now weighing up a potential promotion push! Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – yeah? Our 3-0 midweek win over Forest Green Rovers made our Wednesday a much happier place. But it’s nowhere near enough for us to rest on our laurels just yet. Let’s kick on. And, who knows, perhaps edge nearer that top seven?

Next up for Alex Revell‘s side is another home task. Yep, that’s right – after travelling the land last month, it’s our turn to make League Two come to us. And this time we welcome first-time guests Harrogate Town; the North Yorkshire side making the trip down the A1. They’ve had a hectic enough week already after going over to Barrow on Tuesday night. Now, what kind of hosts would we be if we didn’t invite Town to rest up as soon as they’re here? Trust us guys, you just sit back and relax. Let us do all the scoring and things…

The Details: Stevenage v Harrogate Town

Where’s the game?

We don’t have to move an inch as we’re back at the Lamex for the second time this week.

Can I watch Stevenage v Harrogate Town?

For the 17th time in this season in League Two, yes – you can. And all you’ll need to seal the deal is a tenner, a device, and somewhere you can be sure of 90 minutes’ peace. Oh. And an iFollow Match Pass. Without one of them, you’ll just be watching a holding screen.

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

One defeat in eight. Two defeats in 11. Look, how far back do you want us to go? Either way, you’ll find that – in 2021, for certain – our form is much improved. Obviously, we’ve drawn more than we’d like. But 13 points from a potential 24 isn’t to be sniffed at. And it does a lot to explain why we’ve pulled so far ahead of the bottom two. Both Barrow and Grimsby have three games in hand. But that ain’t enough for either of them to catch us.

And that’s assuming they could win all three in hand – which they won’t.

Our defensive record looks more crazy by the game. In a good way, of course. But can you honestly get your head around how much strife we were in as recent as Christmas when our defence has conceded the fourth lowest amount of goals? Yes, we know it all comes down to our issues at the other end of the pitch; three against Forest Green Rovers still leaving us a little short of the 30 mark. It’s not too late to push for the top either. Bolton, now lying sixth, are showing the value of putting a good run together.

… and how are Town doing right now?

As we said before, Town come to us after some midweek adventures in Cumbria; a late Jack Muldoon winner securing three points for them at Holker Street. That adds yet more points to a pot that is overflowing of late. Town have rocketed up the form table; a very healthy 18 points is their return from the last eight games – including three wins on the bounce. It’s not bad for a side in their first-ever Football League campaign.

Much of their good fortune this term has come on the road. We’re unsure if having to swap the CNG Stadium’s artificial pitch for grass harmed their form indoors. But only two othershave collected more points away from home this season. Goals flow freely on their travels too; scoring in all of their last eight away League Two games. Out of their 36 goals scored in League Two so far, two-thirds of them came about at other grounds.

This has all the makings of an intriguing contest.

Our story with Harrogate Town so far

Well, there’s not much to tell. Even with the one game there’s between us and Town so far, there’s still not much to tell; our goalless draw at the CNG Stadium in October not one you think’d get a special DVD release. Our first-ever encounter ended up being an anti-climax; not least because it’s a new ground we didn’t get to go to. But can our first-ever meeting at the Lamex Stadium spark some life into this new head-to-head record? We hope so…

Last Time Out: Harrogate Town 0-0 Stevenage, 27 October 2020

Who’s the referee in charge?

Scott Oldham.

It’s a second date of the season for ourselves and Mr Oldham; the first being the opening day of term, when a late equaliser spoiled Barrow‘s return to the Football League. Shame. It also maintains our unbeaten record on Mr Oldham’s watch, which extends across all of our four previous encounters. Two wins and two draws is the return (in that order) and we hope that doesn’t mean two defeats are on the way. Football shouldn’t work like that.

Since we met the Fylde coast ref in September, his schedule of matches has been almost full. In total, it’s 21 appointments for Mr Oldham now; not the most on the circuit, but there or thereabouts. He’s also delightfully restrained with his cards too. Just 40 bookings to his name means his average is under two yellow cards per game. There are even four games where he didn’t produce a card at all. It goes without saying he hasn’t sent anyone off yet.

Last Time Out: Barrow 1-1 Stevenage, 12 September 2020

Stevenage v Harrogate Town: Our verdict?

Well, there’s no reason not to be confident – not least after the manner of our win against FGR. But we can’t get too carried away. Harrogate Town are no slouches. While we knew their away form was decent, we didn’t quite realise how decent it actually was. That’s why we’re going to be a little cautious. It’ll be an intriguing match-up; honours even for us: 1-1.

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Pete H is the head of the BoroGuide team; helping to keep the show on the road for the best part of two decades – all because of his love of Boro'. He was relatively late to the scene; first rocking up at Broadhall Way during the 1995-6 season. But that's mainly because he was too young to pledge allegiance before then. There have been more than enough highs (Easter Monday '96) and lows (Kettering '02) since then, however, to keep him occupied. Yes, and the 2010 title win...

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