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From Near EFL Exodus to the summit of League One: The Rebirth of Stevenage FC

After finishing second from bottom at the end of the 2019/2020 COVID affected campaign, it seemed as if Stevenage would be relegated to the National League. But a points deduction to Macclesfield Town reprieved Stevenage who were then allowed to remain in League Two. They used this good fortune to three years later be back playing League One football. Not only that, but they are third in the table after nine games with just one loss so far.

It is an astonishing turnaround from a club set for non-league and showcases grit and determination form both players and coaching staff.

It was not all plain sailing however, because in the 2021/22 season, Stevenage had to win four of their last nine matches to steer clear of relegation trouble again. This was after Steve Evans took charge with the club in peril before they turned things around. The following season, they finished second in the table, only losing out to Champions Leyton Orient, and were thus promoted back to League One, after nine consecutive seasons in League Two. Prior to last season's success, their best finished previously in League Two was 6th place in 2014/15 where they lost in the playoff semi final to Southend.

Steve Evans, the 60-year old Scot, has been the protagonist in the revival in Hertfordshire since coming to the fray in 2022 when they looked destined for relegation. One of the biggest highlights from last season aside form the league success, was their FA Cup victory over Aston Villa, at Villa Park, in round 3. After going a goal down, two goals late on from Jamie Reid and Dean Campbell completed a huge upset for Boro, knocking the Premier League side out of the competition.

Luke Norris has been the stalwart upfront for the men in red in recent years but he joined Tranmere Rovers in the summer, opting to stay in the fourth tier. He scored 31 goals in 104 appearances for Stevenage in two and a half years at the club. He was the club's highest goalscorer in 21/22 with 16 goals and joint top goalscorer alongside Jamie Reid in 22/23 with 14. The hometown boy became an instant fan favourite and was the catalyst on the pitch in ensuring Stevenage's promotion last season. But with his departure over the summer, Boro needed someone else to step up and core goals otherwise they would struggle in an incredibly tough league. And Jamie Reid has done just that so far this campaign, carrying on where he left off last season, with five goals in 11 games in all comps.

No one expected Stevenage to excel back in League One this year, and few will expect them to keep this form going, but no one can stop them from scoring at the moment and anything can happen in the EFL as we all know. They were odds on to go straight back down before the season started but are now eyeing up a potential playoff spot. It is still early days of course and it is a long and enduring season, but they could not have gotten off to a much better start and Steve Evans continues to get the best out of his players.

It is one of the most impressive storylines in the EFL in the last few years, with the club being saved because of another sides problems, but they took full advantage and have now made their way up the football pyramid, with their fan base growing and home form excelling.

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