Full-time report: Stevenage 3 Gillingham 1
- Credit: Archant
Boro beat 10-man Gillingham with goals from Francois Zoko, from the spot, and a Darius Charles brace
Stevenage scored three goals in a league match for the first time since the opening game of the season as they swept aside Gillingham tonight (Tuesday).
First-half strikes from Francois Zoko, from the penalty spot, and Darius Charles was followed by a Cody McDonald strike early in the second period for Gillingham.
But when Peter Hartley’s knock down found Charles in the box soon after the Gills had scored, the Stevenage striker tapped the ball home to make it 3-1 to the hosts.
For Boro the win sees them move to within two points of three of the other teams in the relegation zone, while just outside Bristol City, also two points clear of Boro, were losing at home to Coventry City as this report was published.
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This victory was also Stevenage’s sixth win in eight on Tuesday nights so far this campaign, as playing under lights continues to have a positive affect on Boro’s results.
There was a place in the starting XI for John Mousinho after the midfielder re-joined the club on loan last week, while there was also a starting place for Dean Parrett.
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Jon Ashton missed out with a groin injury, with Jimmy Smith taking over the captaincy.
Boro began with a 3-2-3-2 formation with Mousinho, Hartley and Luke Jones at the back and Simon Heslop and Smith in front of them while Charles and Zoko played in front of an attacking three of Luke Freeman, Dean Parrett and Lucas Akins.
Stevenage started on the front foot with Akins making use of space down the right, and Freeman getting crosses in from both right and left wings.
Gillingham took 15 minutes or so to get into the game, and when they did they went close with McDonald heading wide from Connor Smith’s cross.
Stevenage had been finding plenty of space down the right, but when Charles moved upfield with the ball on that side of the pitch it was more his drive and determination that saw a chance open up.
Making his way into the box the striker pulled the ball back for Zoko to fire at goal, but with the ball heading for the back of the net Elliott Hewitt stuck out his arm and was subsequently sent off. Zoko, from the spot, tapped the ball past Stuart Nelson with the coolest of finishes.
Stevenage’s lead could have been short-lived but for an awful miss from McDonald from inside the box with Day grounded.
The striker had beaten the goalkeeper to the ball, and when he got it out of his feet he pulled it to the side of Day and with two Boro defenders running to block on the line he blazed his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.
Instead, Boro scored next. With 30 minutes on the clock, Freeman dazzled down the left as he had been doing all game and with Charles waiting in the box the winger set his team-mate up to direct the ball past Nelson for goal number two.
Gillingham made a change at half-time with Adebayo Akinfenwa making way for Michael Harriman, and the visitors had a chance at the start of the half when Connor Smith, on the left of the box, fired across goal and just wide of Day’s far post.
The Gills scored 10 minutes into the half, and after his earlier woeful finish with an empty net beckoning this time when McDonald was put through by Bradley Dack he kept his shot low and beat Day from 16 yards.
Gillingham had started the half in a positive manner, but they were left deflated when Charles tapped home from close range just four minutes after McDonald had pulled a goal back.
Freeman sent in a free-kick from the right, Hartley it was with the knock down and Charles put it away much to the anger of some Gills players who thought the Stevenage man was offside.
Boro made a double change with Parrett and Zoko coming off for Michael Doughty and Bruno Andrade, but a minute later McDonald was away again courtesy of another Dack through ball though this time Day’s outstretched leg came between the striker and the goal.
There were then four great chances – two for either side – in two minutes. For Boro Akins drilled a low shot wide from the right before heading a cross on to the bar at one end, before at the other McDonald stuck the foot of the post before his rebound was blocked by substitute Roarie Deacon as Boro held on for a valuable three points.
Stevenage: Day, Jones, Hartley, Mousinho, Smith, Parrett (Doughty 63), Heslop, Akins, Freeman, Zoko (Andrade 63), Charles. Subs: Smith, Wedgbury, Burrow, N’Guessan, Deacon.
Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Davies, Ledge, McDonald, Gregory, Dack, C Smith, Hewitt, Hesenthaler (Fagan 72), Akinfenwa (Harriman 46). Subs: Baxter, Lee, Weston, Barrett, Pigott.
Ref: Stuart Attwell