Match Preview - Stevenage

STEVENAGE v WEST HAM UNITED
PRE-SEASON MATCH
LAMEX STADIUM
SATURDAY 12 JULY 2014
KICK-OFF: 3PM
REFEREE: DARREN DEADMAN

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In brief

West Ham United kick-off their 2014/15 pre-season schedule with a trip to the Lamex Stadium to take on League Two side Stevenage.

The Hammers have spent the past week at a training camp at Evian in eastern France before returning to England on Friday.

Manager Sam Allardyce has promised to take a full first-team squad to Hertfordshire, with the players expected to be given 45 minutes each as they make their first appearances since May.

Stevenage have contested one pre-season match already, winning 3-0 at non-leaguers Arlesey Town on Wednesday evening.

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Who are they?

Stevenage FC was formed as Stevenage Borough in 1976 before adopting their current guise in 2010.

On the pitch, Stevenage rose through the non-league pyramid before reaching the Conference National in 1994, winning the FA Trophy at Wembley before being promoted to the Football League for the first time in 2010. The following year, Stevenage were promoted to League One and upset Premier League Newcastle United in the FA Cup third round.

After reaching the League One Play-Offs in 2011/12, Stevenage finished bottom of the table last season and were relegated to League Two.

Manager Graham Westley is in his third spell in charge at the Lamex Stadium, having previously taken charge of the Boro between 2003-06 and 2008-12, winning the FA Trophy in 2009 and back-to-back promotions in 2010 and 2011.

Team news

The Club's four summer signings - Mauro Zarate, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell and Diego Poyet - could all be given their first appearance in a West Ham shirt.

Stevenage have made huge changes to their squad following relegation from League One in May. No fewer than ten players have left the Lamex Stadium, with the same number being signed by manager Graham Westley. Among the new arrivals who could feature for the hosts are experienced former Burton Albion and Aberdeen striker Calvin Zola and Harold Wood-born former Peterborough United winger Chris Whelpdale.

Referee

Saturday's referee will be Darren Deadman, who was appointed as a Football League referee in 2005 after starting his career in the Isthmian League.

Cambridgeshire-based Deadman has taken charge of West Ham United twice previously in competitive fixtures - a 1-0 Championship defeat at Southampton on 18 October 2011 and the 1-1 draw at Birmingham City on Boxing Day of the same year.

Incidentally, the biggest match of Deadman's officiating career to date was the League Two Play-Off final at Old Trafford in May 2011 when he took charge of Stevenage's 1-0 win over Torquay United.

Deadman will be assisted by Alan Young and Neil Hair, while the fourth official will be Gerry Daish.

One to watch

Stevenage

Midfielder Simon Walton, 26, joined Stevenage from League Two side Hartlepool United. Walton began his career with Leeds United, making 38 first-team appearances for the club before embarking on a nomadic career that has seen him play for no fewer than ten other Premier League and Football League clubs.

Permanent stints with Charlton Athletic, Queens Park Rangers and Plymouth Argyle have been interspersed with loan spells with Ipswich Town, Cardiff City, Hull City, Blackpool, Crewe Alexandra and Sheffield United. A tenacious player, Walton will add bite to the Stevenage midfield as they attempt to gain promotion back to League One at the first attempt.

West Ham United

West Ham United are expected to give a debut to summer signing Cheikhou Kouyate following the Senegal international's switch from Belgian champions Anderlecht. A tall and athletic player, Kouyate can play at either centre-back or in a holding midfield role, with the latter being the preference for a player who can break up opposition attacks with outstanding regularity.

A London 2012 Olympian, it will be interesting to see how the 24-year-old settles into a West Ham midfield that could also include Mark Noble, fellow countryman Mo Diame, fellow new boy Diego Poyet and captain Kevin Nolan.

Tickets

West Ham United's allocation of 1,392 Standard Tickets have completely SOLD OUT. However, Hammers supporters will be allowed access to home sections, provided they behave respectfully and appropriately.

Tickets can be bought online here until 4pm on Friday 11 July and can be collected from the Lamex Stadium ticket office from 12noon on matchday. Tickets are expected to be available on the day through the turnstiles for the East and North Terraces. Turnstiles will open at 1.45pm.

Standard Ticket prices: £15 Adults, £12 Concessions (60+/U22s/Disabled/Armed Forces), £10 U18s, £5 U12s

Travel

Coach travel

There will be no coach travel to this fixture.

By car

Address: Lamex Stadium, Broadhall Way, Stevenage, Herts, SG2 8RH
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 45 miles
Directions: Take the northbound A1(M) out of London and leave at Junction 7 and take the A602 towards Stevenage. Go straight across the first roundabout and, as you approach the next roundabout, you can see the floodlights of the Lamex Stadium on the right. Free parking (500 spaces) is available on your left at Fairlands Valley car park. However, with a large crowd expected, this car park is expected to fill up very quickly. Supporters are warned not to park in the Roaring Meg retail park, as parking is restricted to 90 minutes on matchdays. Fans are also warned not to park on grass verges along the A602 as vehicles left here are at risk of being ticketed.

By train

Tickets: An Adult return between London Kings Cross and Stevenage costs £10.50

Before the match: Stevenage railway station is on the East Coast main line and has regular First Capital Connect services running from London Kings Cross. Eleven trains leave Kings Cross between 11am and 1pm, with the quickest services taking between 20-25 minutes to reach Stevenage. From Stevenage station, you can either take the No4 bus, a taxi or walk the mile to the Lamex Stadium. To walk, turn left after the ticket barriers and take the next stairs on the right, prior to the bridge. Head along the A602 Lytton Way, with the railway and car parks on your right hand side. At the roundabout with Stevenage police station, take the second exit into Six Hills Way. At the next roundabout, take the third exit (right), continuing along the A602 Monkswood Road, passing Asda on your right and North Herts College. After about half a mile you will arrive at a roundabout and the Lamex Stadium will be directly in front of you.

After the match: Fast services leave Stevenage for Kings Cross at 17.06, 17.36 and 18.06, with slower alternatives leaving at 17.04, 17.10, 17.30, 17.41 and 18.10.

Where to go for a pre-match drink/meal

The Broadhall Suite at the Lamex Stadium is a supporters' bar open to fans of both teams on a matchday, serving drinks, bar snacks and hot food. The Broadhall Suite opens at 12noon and children are welcome. Nearby, the Roaring Meg retail park offers a number of eating options, as does the Stevenage Leisure Park next to the railway station.

Weather

The forecast is for a warm afternoon with sunny intervals and a maximum temperature of 23C (74F).

Last meeting

West Ham United have never played Stevenage in a competitive fixture. However, the Hammers did send a West Ham United XI to Broadhall Way on 29 January 2002, when a team containing Steve Potts, Svetoslav Todorov and Titi Camara was beaten 1-0 by their then-Conference National hosts.

Stevenage 1-0 West Ham United XI
Friendly match, Tuesday 29 January 2002, Broadhall Way
West Ham United XI: Andersson, Newton (Allen 65), Riddle, Potts, Iriekpen, Uddin, D.McMahon, Morris (Johnson 10), Todorov, Camara, McCann
Subs not used: Jackson, Eastwood, Khan

Old boys

Striker Lee Boylan reached the FA Youth Cup final with West Ham in 1996 before going on to make a single first-team appearance for the Hammers. He later had two spells with Stevenage, scoring 22 goals in 69 games in total.

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton bookended his career with West Ham and Stevenage, while fellow Academy graduates Tony Stokes and Bondz 'Gala turned out in Stevenage colours in 2007/08 and 2012/13 respectively.

A number of players have been on the books of both clubs, but not made first-team appearances for one or the other, or both.

Mitchell Cole spent time on West Ham's books as a youngster before enjoying a successful playing career that saw him win two FA Trophies and the Conference National title during a four-season stay with Stevenage between 2006-10. The midfielder suffered from a heart condition and sadly passed away in December 2012. Six months later, a number of West Ham players, including his brother-in-law Joe Cole, turned out in a tribute match played in his honour at the Lamex Stadium.

Goalkeeper Rob Burch was loaned to Stevenage twice by Tottenham Hotspur, either side of a temporary spell with West Ham in December 2004, while one-time Republic of Ireland U21 international and West Ham trialist Terry Dixon made three appearances for Stevenage in 2010/11.