League One betting preview: Mark Roberts to keep Stevenage promotion bid rolling


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The Independent Football

There's a real determination about Stevenage not to dwell on the departure of Graham Westley as they bid to keep their League One promotion bid on track and the mood is impressing us enough to back the Boro at odds of 6/4 for the trip to struggling Scunthorpe on Saturday.

Given the meteoric rise of the Hertfordshire club over the past three seasons, many will jump to the conclusion that Westley's defection to Preston spells the end of the fairytale but one phrase keeps creeping up repeatedly in the many radio and newspaper interviews that have taken place at both Deepdale and Broadhall Way over the past seven days: "they are special group of players".

Both Westley and his interim successor Mark Roberts have allured to the fact that Stevenage's success is down to more than just triple training sessions and countless hours of tactical drilling, so much so that chairman Phil Wallace insisted that North End agree to a covenant that Westley couldn't return during this transfer window to poach any of his former playing staff.

Clearly, the club is appreciative of everything that Westley did for them but there's a feeling around the club that the squad can direct its own course from hereon in, such is the appetite for hard work and the bond between the players.

The Boro have won 11 of their last 16 matches and the latest, of course, was that breathtaking 5-1 win at Rochdale the day after Westley had walked, which should be viewed as a statement that Stevenage aren't just going to lie down and accept the script that others have already written for them.

Scunthorpe are hardly opposition to be scared of based on their recent form. One win in 11 or two wins in 16, it doesn't paint a pretty picture whichever way you look at it and the image only gets worse when you analyse their home record in fine detail.

Indeed, five teams below Stevenage have all triumphed in the last seven matches at Glanford Park, while Scunny were lucky to snatch a 2-2 draw thanks to a stoppage-time equaliser against bottom-of-the-table Chesterfield three weeks ago.

These are sorry tales because the Iron aren't short of endeavour and tend to enjoy their fair share of possession in matches but individual errors are commonplace and a 2-0 win over Hartlepool in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy back in August is the only clean sheet they've registered in front of their own fans in 16 attempts.

Needless to say, the natives are getting restless and when you contrast that poor record with the fact that Stevenage have kept six clean sheets in their last eight away games, you begin to realise what a big effort it might require from Alan Knill's men to taking something from the game.

Recommended bet:

2pts Stevenage to beat Scunthorpe at 6/4 (general)

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB