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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Big Match Preview

Stevenage vs. Macclesfield Town
Saturday August 7, 15:00, Broadhall Way

Good things come to those who wait, and this weekend Stevenage finally realise their Football League dream as they kick off their inaugural campaign as a member of the 92.

The Hertfordshire outfit won last season's Conference to earn their place in League Two - and banish the memory of being denied a similar promotion in 1996 because of the state of their ground.

Now, Broadhall Way is ready to host Stevenage's first ever game in the Football League as Macclesfield Town make the trip down to the Home Counties.

In many ways, Boro fans couldn't have asked for more appropriate opposition. Macc are the joint-longest serving members of the basement division - beginning their 12th consecutive year at this level.

The Silkmen will also be able to sympathise with the enormity of the occasion - having been denied elevation to the Football League because of their ground in the '90s, too.

However, Saturday will be all about the home team, rather than the visitors from Cheshire, with Stevenage hoping to get their season off to the perfect start.

It's been a largely quiet summer for boss Graham Westley who, perhaps wisely, has opted to stick with the majority of the players who served him so well in winning the Conference last term.

Some additions have been made, including centre halves Luke Foster and Darius Charles, who both have experience at this level. The manager will also look to captain Mark Williams to keep things tight at the back.

At the other end, the likes of experienced targetman Tim Sills will help lead the line alongside the pair of Yemi Odubade and Charlie Griffin - who scored over 30 goals between them last season.

Westley and his skipper Mark Roberts helped Stevenage to last season's title

For opponents Macclesfield, boss Gary Simpson is beginning his first full season as manager after stepping up from assistant in February after the death of Keith Alexander.

The Silkmen usually find themselves towards the wrong end of the division, but will hope to build upon their finishing position of 19th last term.

That confidence of progression is emphasised by relatively little transfer activity at the Moss Rose over the close season with wide man Matt Hamshaw the most notable of a handful of captures.

Simpson will be hoping that continuity will help Town get off to a good start this season.

Macc also boasted one of the best away records in League Two last term - only Champions Notts County and Port Vale lost fewer games on the road in 2009/10.

Despite that away success, it is often having a solid home record which is crucial to a side's season.

That was emphasised by Stevenage suffering just one defeat at Broadhall Way all last term on their way to promotion. They will need be similarly difficult to beat on home soil as they seek to make the transition up to League Two.

With a large crowd behind them, I think they can rise to the occasion and collect all three points on their big day.

Nobes' Prediction: Stevenage 2 Macclesfield Town 1

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