League Two Gameweek 31: Yeovil to edge close clash at Stevenage?8 min read
Stevenage welcome Yeovil Town to Hertfordshire on Saturday afternoon and the value could be with the visitors.
Stevenage outperforming data
Looking at Shot data and Expected Goals can be an insightful way of gauging the quality and sustainability of a team’s performances.
Stevenage have conceded 11 goals in their last eight games, the joint-15th fewest in that sample, but their Expected Goals Against (xGA) record in that period reads 2.21, by far the division’s worst, which would equate to 18.
Firstly, that tells us that South Shields stopper Paul Farman has been excellent, especially over January, when he inspired the Boro three victories all by a one-goal margin.
Secondly, it shows that battle-hardened centre-back Scott Cuthbert, along with his influential partner Ben Nugent, have produced some vital, last-ditch interventions.
Thirdly – and perhaps most tellingly – however, the disparity also implies that Boro have been getting slightly fortunate.
The areas from which they have allowed their opponents to shoot have led to them conceding fewer goals than they perhaps should have done – roughly seven.
There are also question marks about Stevenage going forward.
Target man Alex Revell has been a mainstay when available but roles for players supporting him – either as the withdrawn forward in the 4-4-1-1 or in a wide capacity – have frequently changed hands.
A combination of injuries, suspensions and players struggling to ally the right application with technical prowess has meant that none of Alex Reid, Kurtis Guthrie, Danny Newton, Moses Makasi, Manny Sonupe and Ben Kennedy have started more than six league games in succession.
Steve Seddon and Jamal Campbell-Ryce had at times taken on wide roles but the former returned to parent club Birmingham for another loan spell elsewhere, while the latter has been absent for nearly a month.
Holding midfielders Michael Timlin and Joel Byrom are battle-hardened and disciplined respectively, but neither are likely to offer much creativity in possession, so goals for Boro could be hard to come by.
Yeovil away specialists
Yeovil Town manager Darren Way has faced scrutiny from some quarters and not without justification, but if there is one aspect of his work this season that he deserves a hint of credit for, it is his side’s impressive away form.
The Somerset side boast League Two’s seventh best road record, with five wins from 13 on their travels and only 12 goals conceded – with no team shipping fewer.
A return of two wins from their last three, home and away combined, suggest a resurgence, especially with clean sheets accompanying victories over Mansfield and Notts County.
Versatile defender Josh Grant, on loan from Chelsea, has added much-needed athleticism to Yeovil’s back-line.
While it is unclear whether Gary Warren was taken off at half-time in the 2-0 defeat to Lincoln last time out for fitness or tactical reasons, he could, if needed, be replaced by Adel Gafaiti, who is expected to be fully patched up following a head-wound.
Sessi D’Almeida showed in the early weeks of the campaign – notably his performance in August’s 1-0 EFL Cup defeat to Aston Villa – that he can be a tenacious ball-winner in League Two next to the more creative Jake Gray.
Carl Dickinson, meanwhile, provides excellent leadership qualities from a left wing-back capacity which proved crucial during the 10-match winless streak.
Mihai-Alexandru Dobre has been a positive loan addition from Bournemouth, given that he has League One experience from his stint at Rochdale last term; the withdrawn forward bagged his first goal for the club in the 2-0 triumph over County.
His arrival and that off wide forward Matt Worthington, who impressed during his previous stint at Huish Park and poacher Ryan Seager, Yeovil born-and-bred, has quashed any disappointment at Jordan Green’s exit.
— Ryan Seager (@Ryan_Seager) January 29, 2019
Those additions have reportedly been funded by an American consortium, who are set to take over from acting owner Norman Hayward once the deal has been ratified by the authorities.
Glovers fans have long been keen to seen change from the previous regime and thus, they can travel to Hertfordshire with renewed optimism.
Glovers to land knock-out blow?
Yeovil Town have won three of their 13 away games with a 1-0 scoreline, whereas Stevenage have lost three of their 15 home games to a solitary goal.
The 17/2 on a 1-0 away victory is an option – or even Seager to score in a 1-0 win at 30/1 for the more speculative punter – but we’ll favour a bit more insurance with the Yeovil win and Under 3.5 goals at 13/5.
Yeovil to win and Under 3.5 goals –