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Opposition Lowdown: Steve Evans’ Stevenage

Reading take on Stevenage at the Select Car Leasing Stadium this weekend, still riding high off the back of their first league win in almost six months. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition.

Northampton Town v Stevenage - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images


Stevenage secured promotion back to the third tier last season, ending a nine-year spell in League Two. They finished as runners-up in the league, four points behind champions Leyton Orient.

They have had a strong start to life back in League One, winning all three of their games so far, having recorded away wins at Northampton Town and Cambridge United, as well as a home win against Shrewsbury Town. They have also progressed to the second round of the Carabao Cup, having beaten Championship side Watford on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

The two sides last faced each other last August in the League Cup. Stevenage beat Reading 1-2 at the SCL Stadium after goals from Saxon Earley and Danny Rose.

The boss

Steve Evans: Evans was appointed as Stevenage manager in March 2022, taking over from Paul Tisdale. The Scotsman’s playing career was cut short at the age of 24 after a serious knee injury. He had a spell out of the game before his first managerial job at non-league Stamford, however it was Boston United where he first made a name for himself over two separate spells.

He went on to manage Crawley Town and Rotherham United before a short spell at Leeds United. He has since gone on to manage Mansfield Town, Peterborough United and Gillingham, before taking the reins at Stevenage.

Leeds United v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Elland Road

Evans took over with Stevenage sat 22nd in League Two in March 2022, but he secured their Football League safety with three games of the season to go. His first full campaign was even more successful, as he guided the club to promotion after finishing as runners-up in League Two.

Despite being a controversial figure in football, Evans does have a strong promotion record, with nine under his belt so far. He is known to have his teams play direct and intense football.


It’s been a busy summer for Stevenage who have seen 10 players leave the club and 13 come through the door of the Lamex Stadium. The highest-profile departures include former Reading man Jake Taylor, fellow midfielder Jake Reeves, defender Michael Bostwick and striker Luke Norris, who all left on free transfers.

Stevenage signed three players from League One rivals Peterborough United this summer, with defenders Nathan Thompson and Dan Butler and midfielder Ben Thompson signing from The Posh. They have also signed two young players from Premier League sides with striker Aaron Pressley joining from Brentford and goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond signing from Fulham.

Three players have also come in on loan, with centre back Finley Burns (Manchester City), midfielder Harrison Neal (Sheffield United) and goalkeeper Krisztian Hegyi (West Ham United) all joining for the season.

Expected lineup

Ashby-Hammond, Smith, Burns, N. Thompson, Piergianni, Butler, L. Thompson, B. Thompson, MacDonald, Roberts, Pressley

Key player

Carl Piergianni: Defender Piergianni arrived at Stevenage in May last year, joining on a free transfer after his contract expired at Oldham Athletic. He started his career at Peterborough, but only made one appearance before moving to Stockport County.

Piergianni spent a number of years playing non-league football, representing Stockport, Corby Town and Boston United before moving to Australia to play for South Melbourne. He signed for Salford City in 2017 and it was here where he made his way back into the Football League, securing promotion with the side in 2019.

Salford City v Oldham Athletic - Sky Bet League 2
Carl Piergianni in his Oldham days
Photo by Eddie Garvey/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

He joined Oldham on loan in January 2020, before signing a permanent deal with the club the following summer. He captained the side in his final season with Oldham but couldn’t save them from relegation from the Football League.

Piergianni has gone on to make 58 appearances for Stevenage since joining them in May 2022. He has scored nine goals for the club and was named the club’s player of the season, while also being named in the League Two team of the season. The centre-back is strong in the air, both in defence and attack.

One to watch

Aaron Pressley: Striker Pressley joined Stevenage this summer, signing on a permanent deal from Premier League side Brentford. The Scotsman started his youth career with Hearts before joining the youth setup at Aston Villa.

He joined Brentford’s B team in 2020 but only made three substitute appearances for the Bees in his time at the club. Pressley has however had experience of league football during loan spells with AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley, scoring 12 goals across those two spells. Pressley already has one goal to his name this season, after opening the scoring in Stevenage’s win over Shrewsbury Town.

He is the son of former Scotland international Steven Pressley and has represented his country at under-16 and under-17 level. Pressley is a centre forward who is strong in the air.