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Posted on 4 October 2006  - 12:00

Kieran McKenna believes the first half displays of our reserve side need to be converted into 90-minute performances in the forthcoming fixtures.

Kieran McKenna believes the first half displays of our reserve side need to be converted into 90-minute performances in the forthcoming fixtures.

Clive Allen's young side have, with no exaggeration, been superb in the opening 45 minutes of their last two fixtures against Arsenal and West Ham - both home matches at Stevenage Borough.

The boys stormed into a 2-0 first half lead against Arsenal but, after giving so much, were pegged back after the break and the game finish 2-2. Against West Ham last Wednesday there was another 2-0 lead, but this was made into a 3-0 advantage before the interval - although the visitors pulled one back in the second half.

Kieran admits there were little thoughts of the previous week when two goals to the good against West Ham and the third goal settled a few nerves, but considers the team must maintain performance in the second period.

"I think, to be honest, we put so much into the first half performance and it was top drawer, but maybe we eased off a little bit and let them back in it," reflected the Northern Ireland under-21 international. "I never thought we were in danger of losing the advantage.

"It was a relief to see the third goal go in and you start to think you are safe after losing a 2-0 lead last time. Next time we will be looking to keep the performance going for the whole 90 minutes."

The livewire midfielder added that he feels the football played in the opening halves of the last two games have been of a higher quality than even last season's title winning performances.

"I'd say definitely so. We've got a young group and everyone is hungry to go on and do well again this season. In the last two games the 1st half displays have been as good as anything since I've been in the reserves.

"Training is top notch at the moment and we are producing it on the pitch. There has been some really good attacking football."

Kieran only made his return from injury in the Arsenal game after being unable to train for a long spell due to an ankle injury. You wouldn't have known he was lacking in match sharpness from his displays though.

"It was hard because I missed most of the pre-season and coming back into the Arsenal game was a big step for me. I was delighted and a little bit surprised to make it through the 90 minutes, but I can feel myself getting stronger and fitter, so I am sure that is going to continue."

His coach suspects his natural athleticism carried him through and is more than pleased with the continued development of the 20-year-old.

"He is a super-fit athlete, he really is," said Clive Allen. "In all the tests that we do he is one of highest and he puts that into his game. So in terms of recovery from injury, it is always going to be the least of his problems.

"In certain areas he is a little bit rusty from not having played, but you will never ever find Kieran short when it comes to the energy and enthusiasm he puts into his performances.

"He has done that over the two games he has played after coming back from a lay-off.

"Kieran is developing into a complete midfield player. He wants to join in and get forward as you could see from his shot towards the end of the game and he is always looking to get into areas from where he can score goals.

"His all round game is coming on, but his greatest strength is his capacity to run, work and his incredible enthusiasm."