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REVIEW OF 2015: JANUARY TO APRIL

1 December 2015

The first of a three-part piece looking back at the events on and off the pitch at Stevenage FC in 2015...

Between now and the New Year we'll be taking a quick look back at 2015, reminding you of what happened on and off the pitch and showing you the best videos from each month.

First up it's January to April...

January
On the pitch...
2015 began with a long trip to Morecambe and Boro were to pick up a point after a goalless draw – aided by Jack Redshaw’s early penalty miss for the hosts.

Next up was AFC Wimbledon at home where Tom Pett and Simon Walton (pen) scored either side of George Francomb’s curler to secure Stevenage’s first win of 2015.

That was followed by an excellent away performance – arguably the best of the entire season – at struggling York City where Boro played the Minstermen off the park and won 2-0 through outstanding goals from Adam Marriott and Tom Pett, the latter an absolute rocket.

Graham Westley’s men travelled to highflying Shrewsbury Town with confidence and even had the audacity to take an early lead through Adam Marriott’s smart finish. Goals from James Collins and Liam Lawrence turned the game on its head but Dean Wells volleyed home before half-time as the teams went in level. Boro looked to have gained an excellent point with a good second half performance but Collins won it two minutes from time to cue ridiculous celebrations and condemn Boro to defeat.

The month ended with a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Oxford, most memorable for a certain Ben Kennedy making his professional debut. Much more was to come in the following months from the youngster.

Off the pitch...
- Manager Graham Westley was nominated for the December Manager of the Month award
- The club announced a new partnership with Arriva, allowing fans in possession of a valid match ticket reduced fares on match days.

Players In
Tom Conlon (Peterborough)
Michael Richens (Peterborough)
Dave McAllister (Shrewsbury)

Players Out
Fejiri Okenabirhie (Cambridge City – loan)
Rohdell Gordon (Chelmsford City – loan extension)

Video of the Month

February
On the pitch...
February began with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Mansfield Town. Reggie Lambe volleyed home at the back post to give the Stags their first win in seven games.

A goalless draw at home to Bury followed before Ben Kennedy scored his first two professional goals in an impressive 3-1 away win at Hartlepool United. 

One of the games of the season took place when Southend came to The Lamex Stadium the following weekend. Roarie Deacon scored his first Stevenage goal from a right-wing cross but goals from Joe Pigott and Barry Corr turned the game on its head. Westley introduced Ben Kennedy as a second-half sub and that proved an inspirational change. Six minutes after coming on the youngster won a penalty from which Simon Walton blasted home to equalise. Then four minutes from time Kennedy collected a pass from Calvin Zola on the right, advanced into the box and calmly slotted home to send The Lamex wild. He still had time to break clear and set-up Dean Parrett for a late fourth in a highly entertaining encounter.

Seven days later Fred Onyedinma gave Wycombe a 1-0 lead at Adams Park but goals from Pett and Parrett put Boro ahead at the break. The Chairboys pushed hard in the second half and equalised through Onyedinma’s header but their blushes were later saved as ‘keeper Matt Ingram saved Parrett’s last minute penalty to secure a point.

Off the pitch...
- The club holds its first ever Kids Takeover, allowing youngsters to apply for various match day roles against Southend or to be a Bragbury End reporter.
- Ben Kennedy signs his first professional deal with Stevenage FC

Players In
Bruno Andrade (QPR – loan)
Danny Johnson (Cardiff – loan)
Dave Martin (free)

Video of the Month

March
On the pitch
With Stevenage still pushing for the top seven it was vital to take points from fellow playoff contenders and that they did with two home wins at the start of March.

First up with a 1-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle where Bruno Andrade struck an 89th minute winner to give Boro all three points. Big headers from Charlie Lee and Bira Dembele then helped Stevenage to a 2-1 home win against Newport.

A third win on the spin looked to be heading its way at Cambridge after Dean Wells’ first half goal, but Robbie Simpson’s 90th minute equaliser meant Boro returned home with just a point.

A goalless draw at Exeter followed before a controversial goal for Dagenham gave them a 1-0 win at The Lamex Stadium in a somewhat distasteful encounter.

The month concluded with a Monday night trip to league leaders Burton Albion in front of the Sky Sports cameras. In appalling weather conditions Boro ground out a 1-1 draw, with both teams benefiting from own-goals.

Off the pitch…
- Stevenage were nominated for two Football League Awards. Ryan Johnson was nominated as the League 2 Apprentice of the Year and the club was nominated for the Football League Family Club of the Year award with five other clubs.
- The club holds its first Retro Day on Good Friday. Fans wear their old Boro shirts, there was an exhibition in the Broadhall Suite of key images in the club’s recent history and we looked back at some of the key games in the club’s history too.
- Head of Recruitment Leon Hunter joins Nottingham Forest as Football Coordinator

Players In
Keith Keane (Preston – loan)
Kevin Lisbie (Leyton Orient – loan)
Jack Jebb (Arsenal – loan)

Video of the Month

April
On the pitch
Strugglers Tranmere visited Stevenage at the start of April and when Bira Dembele rose highest to smash home an early header, it looked like Boro were on their way to all three points. However Rovers had other ideas and when Kayode Odejayi and Jennison Myrie-Williams struck before half-time, it threatened to be a day to forget. Fortunately Charlie Lee struck a late equaliser from close range to spare Boro’s blushes.

A Bank Holiday Monday trip to relegation threatened Cheltenham was next and despite Boro dominating large parts of the game and creating numerous chances, they only had Ben Kennedy’s 78th minute penalty to show for their efforts in a 1-0 win.

Northampton visited next and were another of those sides threatening to sneak into the playoffs at Stevenage’s expense. Zander Diamond gave the Cobblers a half-time lead and although Chris Whelpdale equalised it looked like being a draw, until Simon Walton fired home in the 90th minute from Andrade’s pass to spark wild scenes of celebration amongst the home faithful.

Tom Pett’s early strike was enough to take all three points at home to Portsmouth before an early red card for Accrington’s Nicky Hunt looked to favour Boro away in Lancashire the following weekend. Instead Sean Maguire struck twice either side of a Walton penalty and Stevenage were staring at defeat, only for Chris Beardsley to fire home an 89th minute equaliser to earn a point.

A positive result against Carlisle United at home in the final game of the month would secure a League 2 playoff place and Dean Parrett struck minutes after half-time to confirm a narrow victory and at least two more games for Boro.

Off the pitch
- The club is named League 2 Family Club of the Year at the 2015 Football League Awards.
- Stevenage FC Foundation volunteers visit The Gambia for the second successive year to help with educational, construction and football projects.
- A new Football and education scholarship is launched in partnership with Cheshunt FC

Video of the Month

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