Mouth of the Tyne: Thoughts on Stevenage's pre-season win over West Bromwich Albion

Stevenage players receive instructions during a water break against West Bromwich Albion.

Stevenage players receive instructions during a water break against West Bromwich Albion. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Stevenage continued their impressive start to pre-season with another victory - this one 2-0 over Championship West Bromwich Albion at the Lamex Stadium.

Luke Norris puts Stevenage in front against West Bromwich Albion.

Luke Norris puts Stevenage in front against West Bromwich Albion. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Goals from substitutes Luke Norris and Elliott List in the final 16 minutes made it three wins from three, with all three coming with the added bonus of a clean sheet.

Elliott List and his fellow substitutes helped Stevenage to victory over WBA.

Elliott List and his fellow substitutes helped Stevenage to victory over WBA. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Now if it had come in the FA Cup or something, rather than a pre-season friendly, it would have carried more gravitas but that doesn't take away the fact that this was a very pleasing success.

Jake Taylor, Luke Norris and Elliott List looked lively for Stevenage.

Jake Taylor, Luke Norris and Elliott List looked lively for Stevenage. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

It was also my first view of the new-look Boro and there were a few things that caught my attention.

Luther James-Wildin of Stevenage during the Stevenage v West Bromwich Albion friendly.

Luther James-Wildin was given licence to get forward at will. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Formation going forward?

Even after the seven substitutions on 65 minutes, there was no change to the formation. It remained a 5-2-3 with wing-backs, a 3-4-3 almost.

The back three remained on for the full 90 too, Terence Vancooten playing down the middle with Carl Piergianni to the left and Dan Sweeney to the right.

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Up front, players stayed roughly on the same side of the three although there was more switches here, with one often dropping back into midfield.

It has plenty of attacking promise. With the wing-backs on each side basically so far forward that they were in more of a wide-midfield role, the attacking options are limitless. 

Defensively Boro looked strong too. As you would have expected, the Baggies had a lot of the ball, especially at the start of the second half, but they only got in behind on a couple of occasions.

That's a good base to take into the League Two season.

Jordan Roberts gets down the wing for Stevenage against West Bromwich Albion in a pre-season friendly.

Jordan Roberts gets down the wing for Stevenage against West Bromwich Albion in a pre-season friendly. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Shots on goal or lack of

I know, you win 2-0 and I'm moaning about lack of shots, as well as completely contradicting what I said above.

The fact is goals and attempts on target was something that hurt Stevenage last year and until the changes and the introduction of Norris, List and Jake Taylor (thankfully played in an attacking role - do not change that Boro, he's so much better there than playing deep), they had failed to test Welwyn Garden City's David Button in the WBA goal.

Jamie Reid had the first one, two minutes before being removed.

If they are going to come forward with purpose, and it looks like they will, then there has to be an end product. It doesn't have to be a goal but a shot would be the very least expected.

I'm hoping to see that improve through pre-season.

Michael Bostwick of Stevenage in the pre-season friendly with West Bromwich Albion.

Michael Bostwick of Stevenage in the pre-season friendly with West Bromwich Albion. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Wing-backs and the need for a DM

Michael Bostwick played just in front of the back three and that was the reason for both Luther James-Wildin and Max Clark making their starting position more in line with the midfield.

It is going to be a pivotal role in Steve Evans' team and when the boss spoke afterwards about wanting to bring in two or three more, you have to think this is one of the positions he is looking at.

Bostwick is a club legend, of that there is no doubt, but he isn't the same player as he was in his pomp.

He'll do a job but may be suited as a back-up player. Jake Reeves could perhaps fill that role, and Arthur Read, however, expect movement on that front soon.

Carl Piergianni played on the left of a back three for Stevenage against West Brom.

Carl Piergianni played on the left of a back three for Stevenage against West Brom. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Potential pitfalls on the left

There is always things to improve throughout a football season and if there seemed to be one chink in the Boro armour, it seemed to be down the left with the gap between Clark and Piergianni.

West Brom created a couple of chances down there but it was pleasing to see the pair in constant communication when they switched round at half-time, bringing them closer to the press box.

And it wasn't harsh words or pointed fingers, it was calm and rational with each man asking the other what they wanted from the other.

Like with most positions on the pitch, this is a burgeoning partnership and you can't expect everything to click straight away.

It'll come I'm sure.

Dan Sweeney is proving to be a threat at set-pieces for Stevenage.

Dan Sweeney is proving to be a threat at set-pieces for Stevenage. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Set-piece plan

Listen, it's brought two goals already in pre-season and if it works, why change it, but if I can spot the ploy then perhaps you need a plan B.

Because whether it was a corner or a free-kick, it was delivered towards the head of Dan Sweeney.

It normally found him too but eventually the rest of the division will suss it out.

Now, like I say, maybe it is up to the opposition to do their homework and maybe Boro already have a plan B in mind to mix it up. They need to.

Hopefully though it will have gave the new signing a good amount of goals and Boro plenty of wins before the penny drops.

Stevenage manager Steve Evans talks to Steve Bruce prior to the Stevenage v West Bromwich Albion friendly.

Stevenage manager Steve Evans talks to Steve Bruce prior to the Stevenage v West Bromwich Albion friendly. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Overall

There have been too many false dawns over the last few years and we are way too early into the season to decide whether the hopes of a position much further up the table are well-founded.

There are positives to take though, a few of them and with a short turnaround before the start of the League Two games, that is a good position to be in.

If he can get a few more in, and he alluded that one would arrive on Monday, Evans might well be able to deliver some good performances.