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MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Stevenage

A little insight into our next League Two opponents…

23 January 2023

Club News

MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Stevenage

A little insight into our next League Two opponents…

23 January 2023

With Town’s scheduled EFL Sky Bet League Two fixture away at Walsall called off at the weekend, attentions now turn to another important game against one of the divisions toughest sides.

Stevenage head to the County Ground tomorrow evening with Gavin Gunning’s side looking to build on their last home outing against Grimsby.

The lowdown…

The football club was founded relatively late compared to many other EFL clubs, back in 1976, following the demise of the town’s former club.

They joined the United Counties League in 1980 and enjoyed success in the club’s first year of senior status, claiming the Division One title and League Cup.

Following three promotions in four seasons in the early 1990s, Boro were promoted to the Conference National in 1994.

Despite winning the league in the 1995/96 season, the club was denied promotion to the Football league due to insufficient ground facilities.

They remained in the top tier of non-league for another fourteen seasons, before they earned promotion to the Football League after winning the Conference Premier during the 2009/10 campaign.

Promotion to the promise land served as the catalyst for a rebranding of the club, dropping the word ‘Borough’ for it’s title in June 2010.

In their first term back in the Football League, Stevenage won promotion to League One via the play-offs, and then achieved their highest ever league finish during the 2011/12 season, courtesy of a sixth-place finish.

The core of the squad that helped guide the club to it’s success throughout 2009 to 2012 duly departed, and they were relegated back to League Two at the end of the 2013/14.

Stevenage have enjoyed success in national cup competitions, becoming the first to win a competitive final at the new Wembley back in 2007 as they beat Kidderminster Harriers to lift the FA Trophy in front of a 53,262-strong crowd.

They then won the competition again in 2009 and have gone on to produce a number of notable results in the FA Cup against high-profile opposition.

Previous meetings…

Swindon have already met Stevenage this season and will be looking to revenge the 2-0 loss suffered away from home back in October.

A brace from Jordan Roberts with a goal in each half, was enough for The Boro to see out the win at the Lamex Stadium.

Following this, the two sides go into tomorrow evening’s fixture with a very even record against each other, with two wins, two losses and two draws each in the last six games between the pair.

Last terms two meetings both ended in draws, with neither side able to exert any dominance over the other.

The game at the end of 2021 ended in a goalless draw with a resolute Stevenage standing firm at the County Ground.

This had been preceded by a dramatic 1-1 draw at Stevenage where the home side had led since the 53rd minute courtesy of a Benjamin Leslie Coker goal.

It seemed Swindon would return to Wiltshire with nothing to show for their efforts but then Jack Payne fired in a penalty to equalise in the 95th minute to snatch a draw.

The last win for Swindon over Stevenage came in October 2019 as Eoin Doyle scored a late winner to earn a 1-0 victory, which would see Town go on to win the league that season, whilst Stevenage were spared from relegation due to Macclesfield receiving a points deduction.

Seven goals were shared in the previous season’s two fixtures though, as Stevenage recorded another 2-0 win over Swindon at the Lamex after a thrilling 3-2 victory for Town at the County Ground.

It was Swindon’s academy that won the game that day with graduate Sol Pryce scoring a brace along with a goal from fellow graduate Scott Twine.

The pair netted within the first six minutes before Scott Cuthbert halved the deficit against his former club.

Pryce added his second before Alex Reid scored to bring Stevenage back into the tie, but it was too little too late as Swindon held on to secure all three points.

Stevenage this season…

Stevenage are flying high in second place in the table after a great first half to the season, recording a huge victory over fellow automatic promotion-chasing, Leyton Orient at the weekend.

The victory has put them within two point of Richie Wellens’ side.

They have only lost three times in the league this campaign and have managed to put some breathing space between themselves and the other play-off hopefuls as they look to return to League One for the first time since 2014.

Their three losses came in the space of six weeks, with the last one coming at the end of October against Northampton.

They’re currently unbeaten in their 11 league games since, winning seven of them. During that run, they have also overcome Premier League side Aston Villa in the FA Cup, scoring two late goals to claim a stunning 2-1 comeback victory.

Stevenage boast the second-best defence in the league, conceding just 18 goals so far this term and are potent in attack with only Northampton and Carlisle scoring more.

They’ve been sharing the goals around the side too, with Luke Norris, Jamie Reid, Jordan Roberts, Danny Rose and Carl Piergianni all scoring five or more.

The manager…

Steve Evans needs no introduction for the football fans among us.

The 59-year-old Scot arrived at The Lamex in March of this year from Gillingham, making an immediate impact.

The Boro were 22nd and just three points clear of the relegation zone in the league when he took over, but secured safety with three matches remaining after a run of ten points across his first six matches.

Stevenage are the ninth club he’s managed, having also had spells at the likes of Leeds United, Peterborough, Mansfield Town and Rotherham, among others.

Players to watch

Jake Reeves has found his groove in the Stevenage midfield and has three goals and six assists to his name in all competitions so far this season.

He has the best passing accuracy in the Boro squad and has regularly started attacking moves as he supplies the ball to his teammates in good positions.

Carl Piergianni signed for Stevenage in the summer from relegated Oldham Athletic and has slotted straight into the starting line-up.

After spending last season fighting at the bottom of the table, the 30-year-old has shown he can fight at the top as well, scoring five goals and leading one of the best backlines in the league.

Luke Norris is no stranger to Town fans after spending two years at the County Ground between 2016 and 2018.

He’s been in good form again after winning Stevenage’s Player of the Year Award last term, scoring nine goals in all competitions.

Often utilised in a two-man strike partnership, Norris’ gameplan has allowed fellow forwards Jamie Reid and Danny Rose to score seven and six goals respectively, with the trio boasting a combined 30 goal contributions throughout the campaign.

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