Stevenage v Crawley Town: Five things we learnt

Charlie Lee

Charlie Lee - Credit: Archant

Stevenage lost at home to Crawley Town on Saturday. Here are five things we learnt about Boro from the game.

Destiny Will Always Take Over banner

Destiny Will Always Take Over banner - Credit: Archant

1. Darren Sarll wants Chris Day ‘on his shoulder’

Jamie Jones was given his first start in a Stevenage shirt since arriving at the club on January 29 from Preston North End.

Chris Day, the Boro stalwart, made way and instead occupied the dugout alongside caretaker boss Darren Sarll.

Day has played more than 350 games for the club in a spell stretching back to their Conference days. He has seen off rivals such as Sam Beasant and Steve Arnold for his jersey in the past few seasons but was dropped by Teddy Sheringham earlier in this campaign for Fulham loanee Jesse Joronen.

Day took advantage of an injury to the Finnish goalkeeper to once again make the position his own and has regularly shown that, despite reaching 40 last summer, he still has the beating of some of his counterparts in this division.

Sarll described Day’s work in training this week as ‘nothing short of inspirational’, and it seems he would prefer to have Day working alongside him to get the best out of the squad.

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Jones, described as a ‘big signing by this club’ by Sarll, looked a safe pair of hands in his first outing at the Lamex and Boro’s fans will be hopeful that he avoids the shortcomings that beset some of his predecessors in the role.

2. Caution a good thing as Boro refuse to leave themselves open

There were a few moans and groans from one Stevenage fan in particular yesterday when Dean Parrett stepped up to take a free-kick some 25 yards from the Crawley goal.

What had irked him was that while every Crawley Town player was stood between Parrett and the goal, Boro had decided to leave three players behind Parrett to guard against the counter-attack.

But having witnessed the Stevenage net bulge twice last week (one goal stood, one disallowed) as York City sprung attack after attack from Boro’s own set pieces in the Minstermen’s half, Sarll would have been reluctant to commit so many players forward this week. And it was the right call.

Stevenage have been in a poor place defensively for some time. Going into yesterday’s match, they had conceded more goals in League Two than any other side.

So for Sarll to apply some caution to proceedings and to plug the gaps can only be a good thing going forward.

3. Charlie Lee: water-carrier.

Teddy Sheringham was very much a 4-4-2 man. In his first game in charge, Darren Sarll opted to set his side up as a 4-3-3 with Pat Hoban leading the attack and Aaron O’Connor and Tom Pett both out wide.

But it was the midfield which caught the eye in the defeat. On far too many occasions this season, Boro have been left wanting in the middle of the pitch. But not this week.

They controlled much of the play against a lumbering Crawley midfield, but although they failed to create too many chances themselves they restricted Crawley to even fewer.

Much of this was down to Charlie Lee. A talented attacking player, he was deployed as an anchor in a Boro midfield lacking Lee Cox, Michael Tonge, Steven Schumacher and Dave McAllister.

He was asked to provide his defence with some protection while distributing play out to Dean Parrett and Dale Gorman in front of him. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement on recent games and could be the way forward over the next few weeks.

4. ‘Destiny Will Always Take Over’

So says the banner which has been missing from the Lamex Stadium of late. Well, it was delivered back to the club’s supporters in the East Terrace yesterday – handed to them by Chris Day and Darren Sarll.

Boro have a unique identity, which perhaps had been diluted a little over the past few months, but the shoots of recovery were there again yesterday.

Sarll had said all the right things in the build up to the game, and when he came out of the tunnel at the start of the match he applauded the fans and then started to pump his chest with his fist. He is a man who cares passionately about the club, and the fans lapped it up. It was just what was needed after a troublesome few weeks.

The caretaker boss denied it was the ‘Darren Sarll Show’ though, and said afterwards: “Whatever I go on to do or not do in my career, it will go down as one of my proudest moments in football. I saw that banner for years. It was just by luck they brought the banner back. It was not the Darren Sarll Show. I didn’t want it to be that. My charm offensive in the week wasn’t a charm offensive, they were just my feelings.”

5. Work hard until the final whistle.

On-loan Oxford United striker Pat Hoban said yesterday that training in the week leading up to his debut for Boro had been ‘the most high intensity I’ve been involved in in my life’.

And while nobody is saying training under Kevin Watson or Teddy Sheringham was lacking, it was a sign of the hard work and commitment put in by the players during the week that they were still there battling hard until the final whistle against Crawley.

In the 10 matches preceding the Town game, Boro had conceded in the 85th minute or later in five of them. Here, rather than wilt late under pressure they were the side putting the pressure on Crawley.

They didn’t get the equaliser, but they looked solid as the game wore on and it’s credit to Sarll and his coaching staff that that was the case.

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