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Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Inside Line: Stevenage (Easter Monday 2014)

Following on from Good Friday’s slightly fortunate three points, City face another side deep in relegation trouble in Stevenage.  Fresh from his fantastic effort in being part of the team to cycle from Land’s End to Ashton Gate in aid of the Bristol City Community Trust (you can still donate here by the way!), Stu Radnedge caught up with another intrepid cyclist – Stevenage fan Steve Watkins – who wrote this preview for what ultimately turned into one of the few highlights of our season over Christmas.
In a shameless plug, Steve is taking part in the London to Amsterdam bike ride this June, raising funds and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK . Please help by making a donation  to this very worthy cause at  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SteveWatkins1
So, with bike rides and sponsorship plugs out of the way, onto the questions for Easter Monday’s game in a slightly shortened Q&A in the style of old-fashioned holiday-time match-day programmes!
Your loss on Good Friday leaves you needing to win each of your last three matches to stand even a slim chance of survival. I assume there’s little confidence of staying up now?
Yes, we are all resigned to relegation now and can see no other scenario. Even if Stevenage were to win the last three games, which is a possibility with all the opposition having little left to play for, it would take too many other sides to basically win nothing in their remaining games. Stevenage are going down I'm afraid.
Playing a team fighting for survival in a league usually makes for an unpredictable fixture. Do you expect that to be the case or might your players have accepted their fate?
Watching them come off the pitch at Sheffield United, I think that it looked clear that they know they have thrown it away in the last few weeks. I would like to think that they will have the fight in them to get off the bottom, because I am sure they have not been the worst side in the league this season, but they did look down and it will be a case of whether they can pick themselves up off the floor.
What will happen next season with the team? Can you expect lots of comings and goings?
Without doubt there will be changes. There are several players that are currently out on loan and will not feature in Westley’s plans for sure, and one or two may even look to stay in League 1 or possibly higher. Luke Freeman for example has been linked with Championship clubs. Francois Zoko has been phenomenal and Stevenage would have been down a while back without his goals. Can they keep him?
Loanees such as Doughty, Obeng, Flanagan, and Henderson are unlikely to want to play League 2 if the opportunity arose as they are all clearly a better standard. Several players may well be suited more to League Two, though, if we are being brutally honest. The fact is, the budget will as always be very tight, and Graham Westley knows where to go for 'his' type of player, and it will more than likely come from below.
And finally, can I get a score prediction please?
Stevenage have been very difficult to predict this season, and have shown they are more than capable of mixing with the best. But they are equally capable of losing to the worst. I would suggest that this game will be competitive, and so long as we can keep Sam Baldock at bay, I will go for a share of the points. 2-2.
The Exiled Robin

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