Full-time report: Stevenage 0 Peterborough 1

Simon Helsop in action for Stevenage. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Simon Helsop in action for Stevenage. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Nicky Ajose scores the only goal of the game leaving Boro nine points from safety in League 1

Dean Parrett competes for the ball. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Dean Parrett competes for the ball. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Stevenage are now nine points from safety after Nicky Ajose’s second-half goal handed Peterborough United victory this afternoon.

Boro had their chances with Darius Charles and Luke Freeman both forcing fine one-handed saves out of Bobby Olejnik in the visitors’ goal, while in the last minutes of the match Charles also put the ball in to the back of the net only to see it ruled out for offside.

With Crewe Alexandra, Crawley Town and Sheffield United among the teams just above Boro to win today, Graham Westley’s men have now been left with a tremendous ask if they want to be playing League 1 football again next season.

Stevenage made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Leyton Orient on Tuesday evening, with John Mousinho (calf) and Filipe Morais (thigh) making way for Simon Heslop and Darius Charles.

The first 20 minutes saw little in the way of invention, though when Lucas Akins made a break down the right and put the ball into the box he managed to find a team-mate at the far side of the box who hit his shot into the ground and Bobby Olejnik got his body behind it.

The chance seemed to spur Peterborough into life, and going up the other end Danny Swanson was picked out on the right and he forced a fine one-handed save out of Chris Day.

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Luke Freeman then went close for Stevenage, his free-kick from 25 yards out was bent neatly over the wall and just wide of Olejnik’s post, before soon afterwards a well-worked corner saw Freeman cross in only for Zoko, unaware of a Charles run behind him, to flick the ball wide.

Peterborough carved through the Boro midfield with just 10 minutes to go. Stevenage handed the ball to Swanson just inside his own half, and having left Peter Hartley on his backside he manoeuvred his way to the edge of the area before setting up Britt Assombalonga whose shot was blocked by the retrieving Ashton.

Grant McCann then sent a stunning hit just wide of Day’s goal as Posh looked to turn the screw ahead of half-time, before Nathaniel Knight-Percival made his way forward only to also fire wide from distance.

Boro made a change at the start of the second half with Akins making way for Roarie Deacon.

For Peterborough Knight-Percival was replaced by Conor Washington and the substitute went close to putting his side ahead when his run into the box saw him evade Hartley’s last-ditch tackle to fire at goal with Day getting his hands to it at his near post.

Stevenage’s next chance fell to Freeman after good work from his team-mates.

Zoko had managed to find a yard on the right to get in a cross that Charles flicked on, but at a tight angle, and with Olejnik at the near post, Freeman fired across the face of goal and wide of the far post when he should have put Boro ahead.

Charles then had Boro’s best opportunity for a goal, but having been played through on goal and with time to spare he hit a low effort towards the bottom corner only for Olejnik to pull out a stunning one-handed stop.

To make matters worse, the visitors then went up the other end and scored with 15 minutes to go when a ball in from the right found Ajose, who had a trial at Boro under Gary Smith, and the striker got ahead of his marker and poked the ball home from eight yards.

When Stevenage finally put the ball in the back of the net, they were cut short in their celebrations by the offside flag.

Freeman, their best attacking player all afternoon, fired a wonderful shot at goal only for Olejnik to make a superb stop, but when Charles poked home the rebound the flag went up and Boro were denied a share of the spoils.

Stevenage (3-5-2): Day, Ashton, Hartley, Jones; Akins (Deacon 46), Heslop (Reid 87), Freeman, Smith, Parrett; Zoko (Burrow 87), Charles. Subs: Arnold, Dembele, Obeng, Doughty.

Peterborough United: Olejnik, Brisley, Bostwick, Swanson (McQuoid 88), McCann, Rowe, Percival-Knight (Percival 47), Nugent, Little, Ajose, Assombalonga (Anderson 89). Subs: Day, Alcock, Baldwin, Newell.

Att: 4,262

Ref: Oliver Langford