Stevenage 2-6 Oxford as The U’s rout young Boro side

PUBLISHED: 21:41 29 August 2017

Stevenage 2-6 Oxford as the U's Joe Rothwell celebrates scoring his club's fifth goal. Picture Layth Yousif

Stevenage 2-6 Oxford as the U's Joe Rothwell celebrates scoring his club's fifth goal. Picture Layth Yousif

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A young Stevenage team were routed at home 6-2 by Oxford United in their opening match of this season’s Checkatrade Trophy – in a result which again questions the validity of a competition that prompts such mismatches.

Nothing should be read into this match in terms of the impressive start Darren Sarll’s men have made to sit third in League Two – apart from another avalanche of criticism aimed at this unpopular tournament.

For the fact is this trophy – in its current guise at the very least – is simply not wanted. To football clubs who see it as unwanted extra fixtures in an alreaddy busy calendar.

Nor from managers who have better things to do, certainly in the early stages of a season that offers the promise of a successful league campaign as it does with the highly-rated Sarll and his emerging first team.

Nor too from youngsters surely, whose incipient progress on the slippery slopes of professional football could be harmed by such dispiriting thrashing’s that teach them nothing apart from the fact the beautiful game can also be a very cruel game.

Although the promising but raw Harry Beautyman put Boro ahead on 18 minutes, first half strikes by Oxford’s James Henry and Rob Hall saw the visitors head into the break 2-1 ahead.

There was further misery as the League One side eased ahead minutes after half time through gaols from Jon Obika, a second for Hall, along with a Joe Rothwell effort and a Jack Payne finish to make it half a dozen – before Alex Samuel pulled one back with nine minutes remaining.

Boro boss Darren Sarll made seven changes from the side that beat Barnet 1-0 at The Hive on Saturday including a start for Jack King, making his return from injury and taking the captains armband while Chris Day replaced Joe Fryer in goal.

Visitors Oxford also made seven changes, with former Swansea City defender Dwight Tiendalli named in the U’s starting XI.

Stevenage made a lively start and had the game’s opening chance as a sliding Harry Beautyman poked just wide from close range after good work from Alex Samuel and Tom Pett on the right-hand side.

Pett was involved in the home sides next chance as his poor touch inside the area fell to Terence Vancooten, with the left-back’s goal bound effort deflected behind for a corner.

Boro took the lead from the resulting corner in the 15th minute as a poor punch from Simon Eastwood in the Oxford goal fell to Beautyman.

The winger made no mistake from close range volleying into the net to score his first goal for the club since his summer arrival from Northampton Town.

After a lull in proceedings, the visitors found an equaliser with half an hour played thanks to a brilliant long range strike from James Henry.

Having drifted from right to left, Henry was allowed to run inside before firing a low shot from 25-yards into the bottom corner well out of the reach of a diving Day.

With the score now at 1-1, Sky Bet League One Oxford looked for a quickfire second as Rob Hall rose highest from a Canice Carroll cross to head wide.

It was Hall who would eventually give the U’s the lead in the 42nd minute as he stole the ball from Boro’s latest signing Kevin Toner – on loan from Aston Villa – before racing away and coolly slotting a left footed effort into the far corner.

Stevenage looked to hit back straight away but Matt Godden could only drive his shot just over the crossbar from the edge of the area.

Despite a positive start to the game for Darren Sarll’s side the quick, crisp, decisive passing of Oxford in the final third was causing home side problems, with the U’s going into the interval 2-1 ahead.

Stevenage had the second-half’s first opportunity as Tom Conlon curled a free-kick round the wall forcing ‘keeper Eastwood to get down low to his right and palm the effort behind.

However, Oxford extended their lead in the 49th minute through striker Jon Obika.

The powerful frontman was allowed to turn on edge of the area, placing a left-footed shot past Day in the Boro goal and into the bottom corner.

The visitors add a fourth just two minutes later with another superb strike.

After some neat interchange on the edge of the box, Hall wrapped his foot around the ball to curl and unsavable effort into the top corner, scoring his second of the night and giving Oxford a 4-1 lead at the Lamex Stadium.

The U’s were now running rampant and they made it five thanks to Joe Rothwell in the 54th minute.

The midfielder wriggled his way past two challenges on the right hand of the side of the penalty area before calmly picking his spot and slotting past Day at the near post, much to the delight of the travelling support behind the goal.

Having conceded three goals inside nine second-half minutes Stevenage were now playing for pride, but Oxford were on the hunt for more and they made it 6-1 just after the hour mark.

The quick passing and sharp movement of the U’s in and around the 18-yard box gave Boro little chance of stopping them, with Jack Payne getting his name on the scoresheet as he drilled a low shot into the back of the net.

Stevenage did manage to pull a goal back in the 81st minute through Samuel – his first for the club – after the former Newport County attacker broke free down the right and smashed a shot past Eastwood from just inside the area.

Neither side could add further to the scoreline as the clock ticked down with Darren Sarll’s side falling to disappointing defeat in their Checkatrade Trophy opener.

The Boro boss will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways when they travel to Cheltenham Town on Saturday as they looked to continue their unbeaten start in Sky Bet League Two.

Stevenage: Day, Vancooten, King (’45), Toner, J Martin, Beautyman, Conlon, Smith (’45), Pett, Godden (’64), Samuel

Substitutes: Fryer, Franks, Wilkinson (’45), Newton, Ferry (’45), Gray (’64), Wilmott

Oxford: Eastwood, Tiendalli, Ribeiro, A Martin, Carroll, Henry, Payne (’71), Rothwell, Fernandez (’84), Hall, Obika (’78)

Substitutes: Shearer, Williamson, Ledson, Ruffles (’84), Roberts (’78), Baptiste (’71)

Attendance: 799

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