Ben Kennedy’s explosive start to Stevenage career
- Credit: Archant
Ben Kennedy’s explosive start to his Stevenage career has lit up the club this past fortnight.
After scoring a brace of goals to sink Hartlepool United last week, the midfielder/striker then came off the bench to turn the Southend United game on its head at the weekend.
Even Shrimpers fans who had heard about the 18-year-old prior to the game shuffled to the edge of their seats upon his introduction on Saturday, only to see him go on to blow their side away in 27 breathtaking minutes.
Stevenage supporters, though, are canny enough not to put too much pressure on the youngster, and Boro will no doubt try to temper expectations.
Graham Westley is right in that it is what Kennedy, pictured below, does in the next couple of years that will be the making of him.
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But Stevenage’s fans are also right to be excited about a player who has clear talent and a temperament to match.
Chairman Phil Wallace wants to get more bums on seats at the Lamex Stadium – and fans like little more than an academy player performing on the big stage.
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Boro have been unafraid to give youngsters a go in the first team over the past few seasons.
Westley used a number of academy players in the dying embers of last season as a woeful campaign ground to a halt and he lost patience with first-team regulars on the way to relegation.
He gave opportunities to the likes of Rhodell Gordon, Ryan Johnson, Fejiri Okenabirhie and Jo N’Guessan, while the latter has also played more than 100 minutes for Boro this season too.
George Casey, Jack Storer, Ross Millard and Johnson have also made the bench during the current campaign.
Kennedy, like some of his academy team-mates, has benefitted from Stevenage’s wretched injury list this season but he has without doubt had the biggest impact and has made the most of his opportunity.
His young shoulders should not carry the burden of his team, and they aren’t.
Suddenly, after going three matches without scoring at the end of January/start of February, Boro have hit a groove and in their last two matches have put away seven goals.
They travel to Wycombe Wanderers this weekend as the joint second top scorers in League 2 behind, strangely, Northampton Town, who are 11th in the table.
Stevenage now face a tricky run of games as they try to make up the four point difference to the play-offs as their next three matches are against teams above them: Wycombe Wanderers (A), Plymouth Argyle (H) and Newport County (H).
But, as Simon Walton says, ‘To be the best, you have to beat them’.