Stevenage boss loves it when a plan comes together

Darren Sarll

Darren Sarll - Credit: Archant

Harry McKirdy will remember his first league start ‘for the rest of his life’ says Stevenage boss Darren Sarll after the Aston Villa loanee scored the winner against Mansfield Town.

The 19-year-old forward, who is on loan until January, netted in a 2-1 win at the One Call Stadium yesterday in what was his first start in professional football.

With Pat Hoban cancelling out Charlie Lee’s first-half header from a free-kick, McKirdy ran on to a Ben Kennedy flick before darting 50 yards across the pitch and dinking his finish over Mansfield keeper Scott Shearer.

It was an encouraging victory for a Stevenage side whose front line consisted of two 19-year-olds, and afterwards Sarll said how he’d worked on that exact movement in training in the week leading up to the game with the coaching team’s tactical astuteness paying off.

“It was very nice to see that moment of real brilliance from McKirdy,” Sarll said.


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“I thought tactically at that moment it was the best we’d been in the game. McKirdy and Kennedy took up positions we’d worked on on the training pitch. They got away from each other and then Ben helped it on to him and Harry scored the goal.

“It was a nice moment for a coach when you see a plan come to fruition, but he has to run from the halfway line and then have the presence of mind with what looked like a monster [of a defender] running at him to just use his weaker foot and shape the ball into the corner.

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“That was a mark of the young man’s temperament. But let’s not get too silly with Harry. He’s had a magnificent [first start] and he’s got a [full] debut he’ll remember for the rest of his life.

“Hopefully he can add to that tally and those types of moments with us from now until January.”

Sarll revealed that Kennedy, just two months older than McKirdy but already with 40+ games under his belt, was asked to keep an eye out for his strike partner while the Boro boss added that a quick and energetic duo such as these two would have been hard for Mansfield’s defenders to deal with.

“When I played it wasn’t the [Darius] Hendersons, the [Pat] Hobans of this world who really scared me, it was the little quick things who never left you alone and who were always on your shoulder waiting for a mistake,” Sarll said.

“Ben and Harry have got that. But I thought we actually started energy-less in the first half and I was quite agitated the way we started the game, but they’ve got a moment in them. Both of them.

“Ben has made both goals, including [being fouled for] the free-kick. I said to Ben today ‘remember the influence [Chris] Beardsley had on you when you came into the side? I need you to be Beardsley today for Harry so he understands [what to expect]’. So I’m very pleased.”

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