The Lions can count themselves unlucky not to open up their season with at least a point away to Nottingham Forest last Friday night up at the City Ground. We had an equaliser controversially disallowed, hit the bar and missed some very good chances. On another day we would have won rather than lose 1-0, like we did this time.
We have to learn lessons from this result though as one of the criticisms to come from last season was we required too many chances to score goals.
With the step up in level, chances will come harder to come by, so we need to improve our conversion rate. It’s still early days though and we should take great heart from how we played at Nottingham.
The 1,800 supporters who went to the City Ground were in good voice and went home full of hope for the coming season despite the result.
Starting debuts were given to full-backs Conor McLaughlin and James Meredith, and striker Tom Elliott made his first appearance from the bench late on. George Saville and Jake Cooper both started having signed permanently in the summer. Many decent players didn’t even make the bench so competition for places will hopefully act as an incentive.
Stevenage at home in the League Cup gave the opportunity for a few different players to get a competitive match under their belts as manager Neil Harris made nine changes to the starting 11.
That many changes was one of the main reasons we struggled in the first half to get a rhythm in our play, but two headed goals from 6ft 4in striker Tom Elliott was enough to win the tie and send us through to the next round.
Elliott looked a handful and his full debut showed our supporters that he could be a very useful player. Even more so because of the hamstring strain suffered by striker Lee Gregory in the Stevenage match.
Earlier on in the match young centre–back, Jake Cooper rolled his ankle. Hopefully we won’t pick up any more injuries this early on.
Our home form will probably be key to how we fare this season. We face Bolton Wanderers at The Den on Saturday followed by Ipswich Town on Tuesday night.
It would be good to get our home form off to a decent start. Our squad is much better than last season, but we are up against teams that have improved theirs with some big signings including former Lions striker Martyn Waghorn. He returns to The Den with Ipswich Town after signing from Glasgow Rangers.