With Stevenage Football Club looking somewhat laboured this season, the struggle to stay in the league looks like an unachievable task.
The Hertfordshire side are currently on a three match losing run, having narrowly lost away to FA Cup Semi-Finalists Sheffield United on Friday evening, courtesy of a John Mousinho own goal early on in the first halfm and an away defeat to fellow strugglers Shrewsbury in a must-win game for the two sides. Stevenage were wasteful in defeat at home at The Lamex to bottom half side Colchester United where, having lead the game, swiftly crumbled later in the second half to lose 3-2.
The stark reality is that in their last five games, Stevenage have picked up just two points from a possible 15. The form of a side destined for the drop.
It comes as something of a shock for Stevenage fans, who having acquired a number of new players at the start of the season, have clearly missed the leadership of ex-captain Mark Roberts, who parted for League 2 highflyers Fleetwood Town at the start of the season.
Graham Westley has always been known for his tough training regimes he instils into his clubs. Having pinpointing this as the driving force behind successful promotions in his previous spells at the club, the Stevenage manager hasn’t been able to convince his current squad the importance of his training regimes. In Saturday’s match-day programme, Westley labelled some sections of his playing staff “clowns” for breaking a pre-season curfew last summer. It was an incident which Westley says has lead him to believe he would not be “at peace with the squad” this season.
Westley reassured fans of his desire to keep Stevenage in the Sky Bet League 1 division, stating in the same match-day programme: “I am a serious person, here to win. Not a clown, and I do not like being surrounded by clowns.”
It was an outburst which further added fuel to the fire when after Saturday’s home loss to Colchester, Westley told reporters he feels “a lot of the work we do all week is not wanted.”
Yet, despite the clearly underlying problems at Stevenage, Westley maintains a belief that his players are ‘hungry’ enough to try and fight for league survival. A stark contrast from the back-to-back promotions Stevenage have recently enjoyed under Westley in past seasons.
It’s no secret that defeat to Sheffield United on Friday has left Stevenage needing to win their final three games against Bristol City, on Easter Monday, followed by two tough games at home to Walsall and away to Championship-bound Brentford on the final day of the season.
The game on Easter Monday against Bristol City will be seen as the final opportunity to spark some sort of survival charge and reinstall any faith the fans have left in the side to remain a Sky Bet League One team next season.
It will be a tough ask for Stevenage, with Bristol City striker Sam Baldock in keen goalscoring form, bagging himself 25 goals this season, and ex-Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel Thomas helping himself to 20 goals. Stevenage will need their top-scorer Francois Zoko to be on his best form to add to the 14 goals he has already got this season.
A Stevenage side who have now failed to win in 9 consecutive games will know anything but a win will send them back down into the Sky Bet League 2 and could cost Graham Westley his job.