It’s that big geezer again

Lee Bowyer's ‘favourite’ manager - Steve Evans - is back at The Valley on Easter Monday with his Stevenage Town team which has been in or around the play-off places all season.

It was after a soft penalty was awarded to Peterborough in 2018 that Bowyer questioned the courage of the referee, commenting: "All night long, the slight 50/50s were going to them. I don't know if it's their manager, because he's like this big geezer standing on the side bullying the fourth official, constantly hammering the fourth official."

To no-one's surprise, Evans will be banned from the touchline for Monday's game after failing to comply with the terms of a previous touchline ban. He will be reduced to offering his opinions from the stand. Nevertheless, he is certainly in no doubt about how much his team deserve to be challenging the "giant" clubs as the race for play-off places hots up:

"We are built on spirit, we fight, that's what we do," he told BBC Three Counties Radio. "It's credit to the players that here we are, seven games to go, we're a point outside the play-offs, we're in amongst giants of clubs and we deserve to be there for what we've contributed through the whole season."

Before Friday's clash with Bolton, Stevenage were one point behind Oxford in what appears to be a four-way battle for the final play-off spot. So far March has been unkind to them with two draws and three defeats while in-form Lincoln and Blackpool are sneaking up behind them. It was almost even worse with only a 96th minute goal snatching them a point at bottom place Carlisle last time out.

Much of their success this season has been underpinned by the goal scoring feats of Jamie Reid who has 17 league goals in 36 outings. Although his goal every 172 minutes pales in comparison with Alfie May's 143 minutes, there are some similarities in their careers. He came up through the Exeter City Academy but only made a few appearances in his five years at the club, spending most of the time on loan to local non-League clubs. He hit the headlines scoring 47 goals in two seasons for Torquay in The National League which earned him a move to League Two Mansfield. He managed only six in 39 games there and joined Stevenage in 2021. He was part of their promotion winning team last season but had still only registered 17 goals in 83 games over two seasons. It is only now - playing at the highest level in his career and aged 29 - that it has all begun to come together, culminating in him scoring on his debut for Northern Ireland last week.

Craig MacGillivray will probably be in goal for Stevenage on Monday and it is likely that Jake Forster-Caskey will make an appearance, although maybe from the substitute's bench. Meanwhile Nathan Jones remains positive:

"All we want to do is make sure that we keep this run going and get to the level of performance that we want to because we dipped slightly below it at Fleetwood, albeit in horrific conditions. We now want to get back to the levels that we were showing pre-Fleetwood. The fans are brilliant, they’re so positive, the energy they bring… they’re just magnificent. This will be my 10th game and there’s seven away games! They’ve been vocal at every game and they’ve driven the team on. We’re coming to expect that now, but we don’t take that for granted.”