Plymouth Argyle meet Stevenage for the first time this season today. Ahead of the game, we spoke to Stevenage fan Reece from Boro FC Central, who can be found on Twitter, to get some thoughts for this weekend’s Opposition View.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Stevenage?
It just came sort of naturally as a child. Don’t think anything can beat supporting your local team. Went to see the FA trophy finals and since then it’s become more obsessive and now I’m one of few doing every game home and away, much to my sins!
Are there any Stevenage players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?
We are not a side frequently scoring goals at the minute, or all season, however our defensive record is up there with the best. Scott Cuthbert, Ben Nugent and Paul Digby al very experienced and have been fantastic this season which feels weird to say given the circumstances. If you pushed me for a player to be afraid of, I’d probably go for Dean Parrett at the minute.
Stevenage were many people’s outside pick for the play-offs in pre-season, but it seems to have been a struggle so far. What has gone wrong?
Hard to find on specific things that has led to our downfall this season. We improved our coaching team and our squad and we find ourselves rock bottom. I think maybe the run at the end of last season possibly covered up some underlying issues that weren’t addressed. Ilias Chair was superb for us last season and wasn’t adequately replaced.
Injuries also cost us big time; at one point we had a full XI of players injured. When you have a rut, it’s so difficult to get out and when it’s at the start of the season, it turns toxic very quickly. Mark Sampson when he was caretaker went a long way to fix that but it wasn’t quite enough to win us games. If you’re not winning games, you won’t get out the mess of the relegation battle.
Graham Westley has of course returned as manager. How do you think he’ll get on with the current group of players?
Westley isn’t stupid. He knows which buttons to press and when; the ship needed rocking somewhat. He’ll be demanding but if they work for him, then he’ll work for them. The squad isn’t an untalented squad, however the mentality needs fixing and as seen by Westley in every spell he’s had at the club, he creates a mentally strong dressing room that works for each other. There will be some clashes but it’s time to separate the men from the boys.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
My prediction is we will set up with a diamond in midfield with two up top who will most likely be Jason Cowley and Elliot List. Pressing is the order of the day; they won’t stop running until they’ve got the ball. The plan is quick transitions and then press high but keep shape. The midfield is where the game will be won or lost, don’t expect a clean game either.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
Goals. Our shot to goal ratio is 20:1. I think that stat tells the story of our season and at places like Plymouth or anywhere for that matter you can’t miss that many chances and expect to get wins.
What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
Tough place to go. No one ever likes going to Plymouth. Fantastic fanbase. It’s hard not to think of the defensively solid team under Adams. What a team that was. Carey by some distance was best in the division. I think Ryan Lowe is trying to change the Plymouth culture which is equally terrifying given the players at your disposal. I’d be lying if the FA cup loss in 90 plus six at your place didn’t come to mind. That hurt. It was a long way home that night.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
The large majority of them if I’m being honest! I know that it was between us and Plymouth for the loan signing of George Cooper, a player I really like and the sort of player we lack badly at the minute. But for pure goals, I’d plump for Dom Telford.
Do you have any predictions for League Two in general this year?
Obviously the relegation picture is hard to call at the minute with Macclesfield’s troubles but I think Orient are in big trouble. I think Scunthorpe still have a say on the play-off picture and I do fancy Crewe to win the league. I’ve seen every team in the league bar Plymouth this season and Crewe were two times as good as anyone else this season.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
Tough game to call really due to Westley just recently coming in. We probably should have beaten Forest Green on Boxing Day but got a little unlucky. Plymouth seem to have found their stride. I’d take a point and run at the minute and I think that’s how it will go. 1-1, Cooper and Parrett to score.