Stevenage have had an excellent start to the season.

Dino Maamria’s side currently occupy the final play-off berth at this early stage, with a respectable 21 points from 13 games.

The most impressive aspect of their start is how they have defended and, for context, it is important to look at last year’s side.

The 2017-18 outfit – managed until March by Darren Sarll – showed flashes of potential, scoring three or more home goals on eight occasions.

The problem though was that they didn’t have many dependable performers in defensive areas and thus struggled to manage games, finishing as low as 16th.

This summer, Maamria has addressed those issues with aplomb: he has brought in ball-winner Michael Timlin, a promotion-winner from this level with Southend in 2014-15, who has struck up a good understanding with fellow recruit Joel Byrom.

Scott Cuthbert, who helped Luton to promotion last term, has added experience at centre-back with Ben Nugent, who arrives from League One Gillingham, completing a far sturdier spine.

These experienced professionals offer the grounding to allow up-and-coming players to shine. Right-back Luther Wildin, with whom Maamria worked at Nuneaton, continued his impressive development by grabbing the first goal of his senior career at Newport last time out while left-back Steve Seddon, on loan from Birmingham, appears an excellent capture.

Goalkeeper Paul Farman’s September injury looked a blow but instead, Seny Dieng made his first EFL start last month and has since conceded just four goals in five.

Because Boro are so reliable defensively, it often only takes one moment of magic – which often comes from Ben Kennedy – to win games.

Crewe fought back from two goals behind in this April fixture last season to secure a 2-2 draw thanks to Charlie Kirk’s injury-time leveller but it’s hard to see them repeating that feat.

As well as Stevenage learning to manage games better, it’s also difficult to see David Artell’s men having the same spirit.

The Alex have conceded the first goal in six of their first 12 league games; they have lost all six of those encounters, scoring just the one goal.

In fact, it was only on Saturday that they managed to avoid defeat in a game having conceded – and they were extremely fortunate to draw 1-1 with Bury.

The lack of care in their approach play means that they give possession away far too easily and strikers Jordan Bowery and Chris Porter, who lack the mobility to threaten on the counter-attack, have a thankless task.

The Cheshire side are likely to employ a defensive style of football and we’re therefore backing the hosts to win with Under 2.5 goals at 16/5.

That bet would have come off in three of Stevenage’s six home encounters while three of Alex’s six games on the round have seen them lose a game with fewer than three goals.

Stevenage and Under 2.5 goals 

Read Gabriel Sutton’s League One Game Week 14 Betting Tips here!

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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