Five things we learnt from Stevenage’s league opener
PUBLISHED: 15:52 11 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:52 11 August 2014
There were plenty of positives on Boro’s opening day win against Hartlepool United
1. The strike force
Stevenage may be missing new signing Calvin Zola through a hamstring injury, a striker Graham Westley believes could be among the top scorers in League 2 this season, but the early signs are that there is now strength in depth in the forward positions at the club.
Against Hartlepool the new partnership of Darius Charles and Adam Marriott was a real handful, and although they did not get on the score sheet they had plenty of chances and caused their opponents plenty of problems.
Add to that trio Chris Beardsley, who is currently out injured, and Connor Calcutt, who signed on Saturday, and there is real competition for places.
2. King Charles
There used to be a debate about Darius Charles’ best position, but not any more. The defender-turned-striker was outstanding against Hartlepool United – he was unplayable at times, even when Hartlepool tried to shackle him with two or three markers.
It was not just his strength that impressed, but also his pace too as on one particular run down the left he beat his man before setting up Marriott. It was a performance that contrasted remarkably with Hartlepool striker Marlon Harewood, a former Premier League striker, who was barely in the game.
Charles, it seems, wanted it more. If Boro can keep him fit they have a quality League 2 performer on their hands.
Stevenage began the first match of the league season with only five players on the bench – they are allowed seven.
They are missing Simon Walton through suspension, Ronnie Henry, Chris Beardsley, Dean Parrett and Zola through injury, while George Allen (Bishop’s Stortford), Jo N’Guessan (Aldershot) and Fejiri Okenabirhie (Farnborough) have all gone out on loan.
They brought in Calcutt and Jerome Okimo on Saturday, and both featured off the bench, but Boro could do with another couple of bodies to see them through the first half of the season.
4. A good problem to have
Stevenage had four centre-halves strung across the back line in their opening match. Dean Wells was made skipper, and was probably the pick of the bunch, and he partnered Harry Worley in the centre, while Jon Ashton played on the right of defence, with Bira Dembele on the left.
When Ronnie Henry returns at the end of the month he is likely to go straight into the right-back position, while Charlie Lee could move into the left-back position though his performance against Hartlepool leads one to think that he should remain exactly where he is.
That leaves four into two at centre-half, though Wells and Worley have both made good, early claims.
5. No hangover
After last season’s goings on, it was vital that Stevenage made a good start to the new campaign. They did not want to suffer a hangover.
Last season it was not until the fourth game that Stevenage put points on the board, and while the season is not decided on the opening day a good result can only help to bring serenity to proceedings.
There have been some real lows on opening days for Boro in recent seasons including the 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Wrexham in 2008.
In fact, you had to go back until 2005 for Boro’s last opening day victory.
This result, though, will calm the nerves a little and will offer encouragement to the management team that they are heading in the right direction.