You’d have got long odds at the start of the season on predicting the teams that currently occupy the top six places in League One. In fact, if you’d had a tenner on you could probably make Jeff a decent offer for the freehold. And still have money left over for half a dozen state-of-the-art chip fryers to lure the stayaways back.
Tonight we take on one of the other surprise packages this season: Stevenage. “Surprise package” might be a little harsh actually – they made the playoff semi-final last season and were unlucky to lose to Sheffield United by the odd goal over two legs. They had a bit of a wobble when the appalling Graham Westley left for Preston and was replaced by former Colorado Rapids boss Gary Smith, but Smith is, apparently, trying to move the team’s playing style away from the win at all costs punching biting kicking hoofing diving-brand of play pioneered by his predecessor – a man who again proved on Saturday that he is not so much a Lady Garden as a Lady Amazonian Rainforest.
Mind you, Stevenage started Saturday’s game against Crewe with the 6ft1 Patrick Agyemang partnering the 6ft3 Marcus Haber in attack so maybe it’s small steps as they attempt to emulate our own effortless passing style. Nevertheless, the almost painfully unfashionable home counties side remain unbeaten in the league this season although all their wins have come away from the Exlax Stadium – they’ve drawn all three at home but did beat AFC Wimbledon in the League Cup.
Their danger men will include ex-Arsenal wide man Luke Freeman and ex-Saddlers loanee Robin Shroot who has become something of a supersub this season – scoring four goals despite only starting two games and having been substituted at half time in both of those!
There don’t appear to be any new injury worries for the Saddlers so it will more than likely be the same team that comfortably won at “five grand a week” minnows Pompey on Saturday.
Although Stevenage have started well they seem to struggle to impose themselves on teams at home (like we used to in the olden days before we became brilliant) and were lucky to hold the Sloppies to a draw by all accounts. They’ve had what looks a much easier start to the season than us but there’s no way I’m jinxing our super start to the season by predicting two away wins in a week.