Bialkowski inspires County to three points at Stevenage

Stevenage boss Graham Westley. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Stevenage boss Graham Westley. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Boro were made to rue missed chances as they dropped three points at home to Notts County.

The hosts were the better side and created more oppportunities but the Magpies’ goalkeeper, Bartosz Bialkowski, was in inspired form, stopping everything Stevenage could throw at him.

Having seen his side beat Swindon on Tuesday night, Boro’s boss Graham Westley put out the same 11 against Notts County as he went in search of back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

Boro started at the game at a frenetic pace with Francois Zoko, Lucas Akins and Luke Freeman pressing County’s back line high up the pitch and twice they went close the opening the score.

In the first minute Freeman cut inside from the left but his shot was easily saved by Bialkowski. And County’s custodian was called into action again four minutes later as Freeman outmuscled two defenders before picking out Filipe Morais at the back post but his downward header was pushed away.

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It was a trend that became all too familiar for Westley as Bialkowski pulled off save after save to keep the scores level.

Jimmy Smith had the next chance to score. A training ground corner saw Morais roll the ball back to Smith on the edge of the area. His first time shot squeezed through the crowded box but the former Poland U20 goalkeeper saw enough of it to beat it away.

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Bialkowski continued to frustrate Boro, denying goal-scoring chances from Akins and Smith, before his team stole an ill-deserved lead.

Boro were the architects of the own downfall as they failed to clear a corner properly, allowing Callum Ball, who replaced Jack Grealish in the 38th minutes, to pull the ball down before firing into the far side of the net to give County a 1-0 lead going into the break.

After the interval, Boro came out looking for an early equaliser and it almost came in the 49th minute. Morais made a marauding run down the right, which started in his own half, before playing a square ball to Doughty on the edge of the box. He fed Zoko who turned and forced a save out of Bialkowski.

At the other end, Ball controlled a errant header from Luke Jones but he hesitated just enough for the defender to redeem himself and block the ensuing shot before Day saved the follow up with his outstretched leg.

Enoch Showunmi then should have doubled County advantage. Boro, again, failed to clear a corner and it fell to Showunmi seven yards in front of goal but his snap shot cleared the crossbar thanks to Day’s fingertips.

For all their good work, County almost let Stevenage back in the game when they gave the ball away to Heslop as they overplayed it near the half way line. Heslop burst into the visitors’ half before lining up a shot from 25 yards, which was blocked as soon as it left his foot.

Boro didn’t need a gift from the Magpies for their next chance as they tore through the visitors’ midfield before tee-ing up Freeman on the left side of the box but his shot was straight at Bialkowski.

County were still looking dangerous and looked certain to score after Jamal Campbell-Ryce split Boro’s back line with a brilliant reverse pass to Andre Boucaud but Ashton was there quickly to block the shot.

As the game neared its conclusion, County were happy to sit back and allow Boro the possession. Despite creating a few more chances, Boro could not beat Bialkowski and Shaun Derry’s side picked up all the points.

For Stevenage, the loss was soften by the teams around them losing but they remain rock-bottom of League One ahead of next Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Everton.

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