REPORT: Stevenage 2 Brentford 1
19:51 21 April 2012
Reid and Freeman leave Boro in pole position after Brentford hit two penalties against the woodwork
Stevenage 2 Brentford 1
npower League 1
To hit the woodwork with one penalty may be regarded as a misfortune, but to do it twice in the same match looks like carelessness as Brentford found out to their cost at the Lamex.
But while Bees boss Uwe Rosler was bemoaning his side’s lack of accuracy from 12 yards, Stevenage manager Gary Smith must be thinking that things are just – just – turning in the club’s favour after this win put them two points clear of seventh place in the race for the play-offs.
Speaking after the match Smith spoke of the unpredictability of the league following the day’s early game which saw Bury put four goals past Boro’s play-off rivals Notts County, but with just two games to go in League 1 Boro now hold the cards entering the final fortnight.
Goals from Craig Reid and Luke Freeman – Reid’s a deft touch, turn ‘n’ finish, Freeman’s a stunning strike from 25 yards – puts Stevenage in pole position after Carlisle joined both Brentford and Notts County in failing to post any points on Saturday afternoon.
A trip to Sheffield United followed by a home tie against Bury lie in wait for Stevenage, but Smith’s side have hit form at the right time with their last three outings showing nine points, nine goals for and just one against.
Michael Bostwick had the first shot of note when he sent a low drive wide of Simon Moore’s goal before Freeman signalled his intentions when he put a screamer just wide after he had taken on two players.
Boro may have squandered two chances but it was the away side which blew the best chance for a goal in the first half when they missed a penalty on the half-hour mark.
Jamaal Lascelles brought down Clinton Morrison in the box only for Clayton Donaldson to spurn a wonderful opportunity to put his side ahead by firing his spot kick onto the crossbar.
For Lascelles, still only 18, it was the first foot put wrong in his first three starts for Boro, and even had regular right-back Ronnie Henry been fit for this encounter there is no guarantee that he would have dislodged the on-loan Nottingham Forest man from the team such have been the composed and confident performances he has put in since coming into the team.
Joel Byrom made his return to the centre of the Stevenage midfield at the start of the second half in place of Stacy Long, with Lawrie Wilson moving out to the right only for the game to burst into life at the other end of the pitch.
Brentford were awarded a second penalty and this time Jon Ashton was adjudged to have been the guilty party for a foul on Donaldson.
Donaldson, having missed the earlier spot kick, was replaced by Sam Saunders, but the result was the same – a thud against the woodwork.
The midfielder put the ball to the other side of Chris Day in the Stevenage goal, but he put too much on it, it hit the inside of the post and bounced back to Day who smothered it.
Brentford would go on to rue their two penalty misses and Boro were quick to punish.
First up was Reid who, collecting a Wilson cross, took a touch to beat his defender before striking past Moore, and then one became two not long afterwards when Freeman unleashed a terrific strike which went in off the inside of the post.
To consolidate Smith brought on John Mousinho for Reid making it five in midfield, while Saunders tested Day with a fine volley only to be matched by the Boro stopper.
Saunders eventually scored for Brentford in the 89th minute when he curled in a classy free kick leaving four minutes of injury time for the visitors to find the winner, but a second goal proved elusive leaving Boro needing four points from two games and Brentford needing snookers.
Stevenage: Day 7, Lascelles 8, Laird 7, Ashton 8, Roberts 7, Wilson 6, Long 6 (Byrom 46, 6), Freeman 7, Bostwick 7, Reid 7 (Mousinho 66, 6), Agyemang 7 (Beardsley 77). Subs: Myrie-Williams, Slew.
Brentford: Moore, Saunders, Logan, Diagourage, Osborne (Legge 77), Thompson (Forrester 64), Douglas, Bidwell, Dean, Donaldson, Morrison. Subs: Bean, McGinn, Balkestein.
Att: 4256 (1231)
Ref: C Berry