Boro go down to Oxford
Oxford United 2 Stevenage Boro 1 Boro slipped to their first defeat of the season against table-toppers Oxford United at The Kassam Stadium on Saturday. Goals from Alfie Potter and Adam Murray were enough for United to strike an early blow to Boro s pro
Oxford United 2 Stevenage Boro 1
Boro slipped to their first defeat of the season against table-toppers Oxford United at The Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Alfie Potter and Adam Murray were enough for United to strike an early blow to Boro's promotion hopes despite Yemi Odubade netting his first goal for the club as a late consolation.
Manager Graham Westley made one change to the side that beat Ebbsfleet so easily as Joel Byrom came in at the expense of Lee Boylan with Boro adopting a 4-5-1 formation.
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Byrom's inclusion almost paid immediate dividends when he almost opened the scoring within the first five minutes. The former Northwich Victoria man almost deflected a long range effort from Darren Murphy home but Ryan Clarke parried before Rhys Day hacked the ball away from danger.
Boro's arch-nemesis James Constable then took centre stage as he and Jon Ashton tangled resulting in both being shown the yellow card. Constable incurred the wrath of the travelling Boro support even further when he clattered into Scott Laird moments later and the former Kidderminster man could consider himself extremely fortunate to stay on the field.
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The fact Constable played a major part in Oxford's opener in the 21st minute merely rubbed salt into Stevenage's wounds.
Constable headed Dannie Bulman's left-wing cross back across the face of the goal and Potter controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed home from eight yards.
United should have extended their lead before the break when Constable charged down a clearance from Ashley Bayes with the ball squirting across the face of the goal but somehow Potter contrived to miss and throw Boro a lifeline.
Boro came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second half with Mitchell Cole going close when he raced clear before firing over but their best chance fell to Chris Beardsley, whose close range header produced a good save from Clarke.
The miss came back to haunt Westley's men and in the 73rd minute Oxford effectively sealed all three points. Constable toiled for the ball on the edge of the area before the ball ran loose to Murray, who rifled home from 12 yards giving Bayes no chance.
Boro pushed forward looking for a route back into the contest and Byrom was desperately unlucky to see his delicate chip beat Clarke but come back off the crossbar.
Boro did finally get the goal their character deserved in injury time when Cole crossed for Odubade to net against his former club but it was too little too late.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Batt, Day (Foster 8), Creighton, Sandwith, Bulman, Murray, Clist, Potter (Rhodes 83), Constable, Green. Subs not used: Turley, Chapman, Midson.
Boro (4-5-1): Bayes, Henry, Ashton, Roberts, Laird, Wilson, Bostwick, Murphy (Vincenti 90), Byrom, Cole, Beardsley (Odubade 72). Subs not used: Odhiambo, Long, Boylan.
Referee: Andrew Bennett (Devon)
Attendance: 5,775 (224 from Stevenage)