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NATHAN JONES ON STEVENAGE TEST

9 March 2017

The gaffer isn't surprised by Stevenage's rich vein of form

The Hatters’ clash against Stevenage this Saturday is a “great game to be involved in” according to gaffer Nathan Jones as his side continue to press for a place in the top three of Sky Bet League Two.

The Town are pleased to once again be helping to promote the work of Prostate Cancer UK, as the players will be wearing special T-shirts in the warm-up as it is the EFL’s partner charity’s designated game for the season at Kenilworth Road.

And what a crucial one it is for Jones’ side, who know a win could lift them into the automatic promotion places ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Carlisle, depending on the fourth-placed Cumbrians’ result against Cambridge and Portsmouth’s at Colchester.

The Boro have been in marvellous form of late and Jones believes that Darren Sarll’s team have grown since the Hatters suffered a 2-1 defeat at the Lamex Stadium in August.

“I think they’ve improved,” Jones said. “I think they’re a better side than when we played them at the beginning of the season. They’re in good form, they’re confident. It’ll be a game of high motivation.

“Both teams will want to win it for the same reason. It’s a great game to be involved in, one we are ready for.”

Due to the goalscoring exploits of both teams’ main strikers, there is due to be a lot of attention on both Danny Hylton and Matt Godden.

Godden is the top scorer in the top four tiers of English football in 2017, having netted 13 times already this year. Hylton has scored eight times since the turn of the year and has scored two more goals in total than the Stevenage striker who is on 20 so far for the season.

It’s those goals that have helped keep Stevenage on an unbeaten run of eight games and lifted them into the play-off places, but Jones isn’t surprised by Boro’s climb.

He said: “They’ve got a striker who is scoring goals and they score at the right time. It’s not a surprise. Nothing surprises me in this league.

“You look at other sides who have had fantastic runs, and as quickly as they have had fantastic runs they’ve dropped.

“It’s about being consistent. They have been very consistent. Darren Sarll has done a fantastic job there. He has got some good players there, so it’s not some kind of fluke. They’re in a confident mood at the moment.”

The Town boss said he was aware of the ex-Ebbsfleet striker before Sarll signed him, but he is happy with his own summer signings.

“We knew about him and he has found a good home in terms of Stevenage,” Jones continued. “We took Isaac Vassell, which we think is a wonderful, wonderful gamble. You don’t take too many but he is one we earmarked.

“We brought in Danny Hylton in the summer and we had good ones here. We couldn’t sign everyone, so it’s one we knew about and he’s done fantastically well.

“Who’s to say he would have done anywhere near as well if he had gone to any other side in the division? So credit to Stevenage.”

The game arrives at the end of a week in which a number of players – as well as the gaffer – have either won or have been nominated for awards.

Alan Sheehan was in the EFL Team of the Week, as well as being in The Football League Paper’s select team from last Saturday alongside Hylton and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.

Hylton won the PFA Fans’ Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for February, whilst Jones has been nominated for manager of the month.

The Hatters boss was keen to play his nomination down, but was delighted for his top scorer.

“If you’re nominated for anything like that, then the whole club must be doing something right because it’s not just you,” said Jones.

“It’s always nice to be nominated. To come through the difficult month unbeaten was good, we want to do the same this month.

“I am pleased for Danny. Ironically it’s the fans’ one as well, and judging by his relationship with some fans it’s quite ironic. He’s a wonderful player, we love Danny here and it’s well deserved.”

Hatters Player subscribers can watch Jones’ full press conference by clicking here.
 
 

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