Full-time report: Stevenage 3 Walsall 2

Jimmy Smith in action for Stevenage

Jimmy Smith in action for Stevenage - Credit: Archant

Walsall gift Stevenage a late winner as Boro put winless run behind them

Stevenage put an end to their winless run after being gifted victory with just under 10 minutes to go in this match.

Going into the game on the back of 10 matches without a win, the scores were level at 2-2 before Malvind Benning chested the ball to an unmarked Luke Freeman, and the former Arsenal man made no mistake from a couple of yards to give Boro’s fans something to cheer about in the last home game of the season.

There was a start for Bira Dembele following injury, while both Fejiri Okenabirhie and Jo N’Guessan, products of the club’s academy, started a match for Boro for the first time. There was also a place on the bench for another academy player, Ryan Johnson.

Boro pushed players forward with intent in the opening minutes, and when Freeman put in a cross from the left there were three of his team-mates awaiting the cross. Okenabirhie got his head to it, and nodded it straight at Richard O’Donnell.


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The visitors had a double chance to take the lead with 16 minutes on the clock. Romaine Sawyers had been played in on the right, but after taking the ball around Chris Day his pull back found the feet of Dembele.

The Boro defender, though, failed to clear, and Sam Mantom dragged his shot wide of the target when he should have made of the opportunity that was presented

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Craig Westcarr then went close as the home side continued to probe – his curled effort flying just wide of Day’s left hand post – before Okenabirhie fired from 25 yards straight at O’Donnell

Okenabirhie had had a lively start to the game and was then involved in Boro’s goal on 35 minutes. Spotting a run from Jimmy Smith he played in the midfielder who confidently smacked in a half-volley past O’Donnell to fire Stevenage into the lead.

Boro made a change at half-time with Rohdell Gordon coming on for Curtis Obeng, but within five minutes they had conceded twice to trail 2-1.

A ball played through the Stevenage defence took a touch and dropped for Benning who slotted it under Day for 1-1, and a couple of minutes later Romaine Sawyer’s shot was palmed into the centre of his box by Day and Westcarr sauntered in to pass the ball into the net.

The goals kept coming and just three minutes later Stevenage had a second of their own when Smith’s wonderful pass inside the full-back was latched on to by N’Guessan who carried on in to the box and fired low past O’Donnell.

Benning struck a low free-kick that Day got behind, while for Boro substitute Roarie Deacon, making his way back from injury, put his laces through the ball with 15 minutes to go only to see it drift wide of the Walsall goal.

Stevenage, though, were gifted the winner with just eight minutes left on the clock, and it came from a howler by Benning.

Under no pressure and with the ball drifting towards him, Walsall’s goalscorer chested the ball to an unmarked Freeman instead of his goalkeeper and Boro’s winger side-footed in a sitter from just a few yards to give his side all three points and move them off the foot of the table.

Stevenage now have one match remaining away to Brentford next Saturday.

Stevenage: Day, Obeng (Gordon 46), Hartley, Dembele, Jones, Mousinho, Freeman, Smith, Henderson, Okenabirhie (Deacon 70), N’Guessan (Doughty 83). Subs: Arnold, Burrow, Banvo, Johnson.

Walsall: O’Donnell, Butler, Chambers (Ngoo 85), Mantom, Lalkovic (Baxendale 79), Downing, Benning, Chambers, Sawyers, Brandy (Bakayoko 85), Westcarr. Subs: Lewis. Taylor, Featherstone, McQuilkin.

Ref: Graham Horswood

Att: 2,973

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