Things on the up as season nears its end
Supporters’ Association’s Mark Hollis on the latest goings on at Boro
‘All in all, a bit of a forgettable period on the pitch’ was the way I summed up my last column.
That’s not quite the case this month!
Since that indifferent spell of form through February the team have really kicked on and pulled together a quite superb run to leave them sitting with a real possibility of making the play-offs, and even, dare I say it, an outside chance of sneaking into those automatic promotion spots.
It’s becoming a habit at this time of year for Stevenage sides to make me start to believe they can achieve great things.
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This time last year we turned Crawley over 3-0 at their place on the Saturday and then beat Oxford 1-0 at home to set us up perfectly for that run through to the title.
You can manipulate statistics any way you like I suppose, but 25 points from the last 11 games has catapulted us from what seemed to be a comfortable mid-table finish to a place in the top seven in the space of six weeks and winning the last five on the spin must put us top of the form table and ensure that the rest of the teams are on their toes if they don’t want to be caught or fall behind us too much.
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The period for which I am writing started at home to Oxford with the team coming off the back of two away defeats to Shrewsbury and Bury.
I can’t remember the last time Stevenage lost three games in a row and it doesn’t look likely to happen this season either.
Defeats seem to hit this team hard so Oxford was going to be a tough ride and you could tell from very early on that United had come for the draw and in the end it is what they went away with.
A frenetic opening saw both Stevenage and Oxford rattle the woodwork within the opening two minutes but the rest of the game was played out at a pretty pedestrian pace with neither side ever really looking like scoring.
Three wins in a row followed, away at Crewe and Port Vale and then at home to Cheltenham before two defeats, away at Torquay (which Helen Chamberlain had to remind us about…) and at home against Hereford due to a freak goal when a Hereford cross found its way over Chris Day and under the bar.
Like I said, it’s been a long time since a Stevenage team lost three in a row and they had the daunting task of an away trip to Wycombe to stop it this time.
For me, Wycombe away wasn’t the most normal of away trips. We had to meet up at 6:45am to appear as the Fans of the Week on Soccer AM.
This involved being chauffeur driven to the Sky studios in Isleworth where we were treated to the biggest breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen, meeting the Soccer AM team and then singing and shouting in a TV studio all morning.
We even managed to get a brief thumbs up from Kammy which had a couple of the boys on a high all morning!
It was an odd experience being on that programme. The studio is much smaller than it seems on the TV and the crew are constantly moving things about while the show is being recorded.
It’s as hectic as you’d expect a live TV show to be, but the crew were all top notch and made us feel comfortable even after our woeful performance on Wembley 2011.
Anyway, after the show we were driven to Wycombe in plenty of time to get in the pub for a few drinks before the match which we all took full advantage of before heading up to the ground to stand in front of our seats by about 2:58pm.
The 3-400 Stevenage fans were packed nicely together meaning it was easy to get a good atmosphere going and the singing didn’t stop from the first to the final whistle.
It was easy to keep the atmosphere going though because the team were putting in a great performance against one of the top sides in the division and got their just rewards when John Mousinho crashed in an effort from all of 30 yards to sink his old club and set Stevenage up for the win.
On the back of that win saw a trip to Oxford. I would have been happy with a point from the tie but Craig Reid picked the perfect time to pop up with his first goal for the club to sink Oxford 2-1 and give Stevenage their first ever win at the Kassam. Cue Oxford moaning about the way we played and Jim Rosenthal reporting us to the League for our ‘tactical drinks breaks’. Bless him.
Lincoln at home was always going to be tough with the Imps trying to ensure they don’t get dragged in to the relegation dogfight but Lawrie Wilson scored twice to seal the win and start off what seems to be becoming a trend; scoring a brace.
Mousinho then bagged his against a Burton side who could conceivably find themselves back in the Conference if they’re not careful, and in doing so, gave Stevenage all three points and their first win at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium.
Macclesfield followed with Mark Roberts and Robbie Sinclair getting in on the act both notching twice in a 4-0 victory which, at the time, pushed us up to fourth.
So, a quite superb run of results has put us in a position where we’re in with a real shout of the play-offs, and if we can keep this form up, who would rule out going up?
It’s still a bit early to be talking about that sort of thing now though, as there are still a lot of games to play and a lot of points to fight for.
It’s certainly going to be very interesting and with Port Vale and Bury at home in our last three games, we could be set up for a very interesting end of season.
Lastly, it’s that time of year again to start deciding who you think is the Supporters’ Association’s Player of the Year. The opportunity to vote will be available very soon with nominations being taken online and at the SA Hut on matchdays. Keep an eye on www.SFCSA.co.uk for more information and for details of how to cast your vote.
* Mark Hollis is the public relations officer for Stevenage Supporters’ Association.