Boro close gap on leaders thanks to Griffin strike
Salisbury City 0 Boro 1 Boro closed the gap on league leaders Oxford United to just two points after Charlie Griffin s first half strike gave Graham Westley s men a vital away win. The 30-year-old struck during injury time at the end of the first half w
Salisbury City 0 Boro 1
Boro closed the gap on league leaders Oxford United to just two points after Charlie Griffin's first half strike gave Graham Westley's men a vital away win.
The 30-year-old struck during injury time at the end of the first half when he pounced on hesitancy in the Salisbury defence and slotted home against his former club.
Boro did not have it all their own way however with Matt Tubbs proving a thorn in the visitors' side all afternoon but there was no way back for City when Chris Todd was shown a red card for two bookable offences in the 74th minute.
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Boro endured a scare early on when Tubbs let fly but Chris Day saved comfortably in what was a low key opening for both sides.
Stevenage's first chance of the afternoon came through a Joel Byrom corner in the 10th minute when Michael Bostwick rose highest but the former Ebbsfleet man could not direct his header on target.
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Skipper Mark Roberts then had an even better chance when Ronnie Henry's free kick found the Boro skipper but he could not get the ball out of his feet quickly enough and the chance went begging.
Opportunities were proving few and far between however with both sides looking very evenly matched.
Five minutes before the break Yemi Odubade tricked his way past a defender before unleashing a smart shot that Lester did well to save at his near post but in time added on Boro got their noses in front.
A long clearance from Day was not dealt with by City defender Chris Todd and Griffin was on to it in a flash and he showed great composure to slide the ball past Lester and give Stevenage a vital lead.
Salisbury were really struggling to find any openings against a stubborn Boro back three although Tubbs looked the most likely to turn the tide back into the hosts' favour.
Boro boss Graham Westley decided to introduce Mitchell Cole's pace to proceedings in the 54th minute as the visitors went in search of the game clinching second goal.
But Salisbury almost got back on level terms soon after when Darrell Clarke's run from midfield went untracked but the former Mansfield man's firm header was straight at Day.
An air of uncertainty started to seep into Boro's play with Westley's men not knowing whether to push for the second goal or protect what they had.
But Boro's task was made a little easier in the 74th minute when Todd's nightmare afternoon was made complete as he was given his marching orders.
It was the Torquay defender's hesitancy that cost him once more as he failed to deal with a long ball and Griffin took advantage but before the Boro man could run in on goal he was brought down.
Having been booked in the first half, the referee had no option but to send Todd for an early bath.
Boro almost immediately took advantage of the extra man when Griffin met Drury's cross but saw his effort beaten out by Lester.
Griffin had an even better chance to put the game to bed in the 83rd minute when Laird made great progress down the left flank before delivering a delightful cross but the Boro front man's firm downward header squirmed just wide.
The miss almost came back to haunt Stevenage when Tubbs threatened to get round the back of the Boro defence in the 86th minute before Roberts hauled down the striker.
The former Northwich Victoria man was lucky to only be shown a yellow card with the lively Tubbs seemingly through on goal.
Drury almost put the seal on a good afternoon's work for Boro with an exquisite strike from 25 yards but the ball drifted just wide at the last moment.
Bradley Gray almost undid all Boro's efforts late on when he found space inside the Boro penalty area but his header went agonisingly wide.
Salisbury City (4-4-2): Lester, Ruddick, Cox, Todd, Brown, O'Hara (Gray 77), Anderson, Oastler, Clarke, Flood, Tubbs. Subs not used: Osman, Tafazolli.
Boro (3-5-2): Day, Albrighton (Cole 54), Ashton (Drury 71), Roberts, Henry, Laird, Bridges, Bostwick, Byrom, Griffin, Odubade (Odhiambo 82). Subs not used: Bayes, Beardsley.
Referee: A Bennett