Curle well aware of Chair threat as Cobblers get set for Stevenage test

Ilias Chair
Ilias Chair

Ilias Chair’s stunning double strike for Stevenage at leaders Lincoln City last weekend came as no surprise to Cobblers boss Keith Curle.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder was making only his third appearance for the Boro following his January loan move from Queens Park Rangers, and produced two late wonder strikes to secure a 2-2 draw for his side at Sincil Bank.

The goals capped what was reportedly a stunning performance from the Belgian-born player, who claimed after the game he ‘could have scored six’.

Indeed, he almost won it in the dying seconds, but was denied a hat-trick by Imps shot-stopper Grant Smith.

Chair is certainly a player the Cobblers will have to watch when they take on Stevenage at Broadhall Way on Saturday (ko 3pm), but Curle should have his players well prepared for what to expect.

“I am aware of him, and he’s very good,” said Curle, when asked about the Moroccan Under-23 international, who has made a clutch of first team appearances at Loftus Road, and featured as a second-half substitute when the Rs beat the Cobblers 1-0 in the Carabao Cup last season.

“I know the analyst at QPR from my time at the club, I have decent contacts there, so I have good feedback on him and know what to expect.

“The lad will shoot from anywhere, and it’s not too dissimilar to Yoann Arquin’s goal against us for Yeovil, some of them do hit the top corner, but some do hit row Z.”

Chair and Stevenage will certainly have been boosted by their endeavours at Sincil Bank last weekend, where arguably they should have won a game they dominated for long spells.

Thanks to five wins in their past 10 games, Boro are still on the fringes of the race for a Sky Bet League Two play-off place,.

And although Curle is anticipating a difficult test in Hertfordshire, he is confident his Cobblers team is capable of returning with some reward.

“I think Stevenage will be buoyed by the result they got at the weekend, drawing with Lincoln when they had been 2-0 down, but that also shows they have got frailties and can concede,” said the Cobblers boss.

“They are a team that like to get on the front foot and play in the opposition’s half.

“They get the ball forward and support it well, and they are able to maintain good possession of the ball if you give them time to play.

“I think we will take a large following there, and our supporters will be expecting a very competitive game, and it will be competitive.”

A handful of former Cobblers are expected to feature for Stevenage on Saturday, with Joel Byrom a key man in midfield, and Alex Revell the focal point of their attack.

Emmanuel Sonupe also regularly features from the bench.