GALLERY: Stevenage 1 Crawley Town 2
Match report and photo gallery as Boro lose at home to Crawley Town
Stevenage 1 Crawley Town 2
npower League 1
IT is now four home games without a win for Stevenage – and one victory in their last six games – and yet, bizarrely, they remain just four points off the top of the table.
Crawley were the latest team to deny Boro three points at home, and in doing so Richie Barker’s men put an end what is a quite remarkable statistic – that before Saturday, the last time Stevenage had lost after going ahead in the league was 73 matches ago.
That it took a huge dollop of luck, with the winning goal taking a deflection off Boro defender Bondz N’Gala, will be of no consolation, but the return of Robin Shroot to the Stevenage attack will have been a boost for the home side.
Having started the season in blistering form by scoring six goals in eight matches, with four of those goals coming during games he had started on the bench, Shroot had fallen out of favour and protracted negotiations over a new contract aided neither him nor the club.
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There was a public spat between club and player, but those issues have now been resolved and after putting pen to paper last week Shroot marked his first league start for the club since October 6 with his seventh goal of the season.
There was a minute’s silence held before Saturday’s match in memory of Mitchell Cole who died earlier this month, and on the pitch Boro made two changes with Shroot and Lee Hills coming in for Luke Freeman and Anthony Grant.
The visitors had the first crack at goal, Mike Jones firing straight at Steve Arnold after wrong-footing Boro defender David Gray, while up front Shroot caused immediate problems.
For some time Stevenage have lacked support for the hard-working Marcus Haber through the centre of the pitch, but Shroot’s ability to run on past the front man and stretch a defence meant the Crawley back line could not push up and squeeze the midfield.
The attacking player’s first effort on goal came 10 minutes in when his strike from a tight angle was saved well by Paul Jones, with Greg Tansey’s follow up being blocked by Josh Simpson.
There were moments of quality in the first half, but there weren’t many.
Boro, though, did seem to have the beating of Crawley right-back David Hunt, but they failed to take advantage after seeing Hills beat the defender for pace down the left with Hunt looking as though he was running in treacle with his shorts round his ankles and his laces tied.
Tansey had another effort on goal 10 minutes before the break. Gray had put in a cross and rather than swing a boot at the ball the unmarked Lucas Akins inexplicably executed a step over and Tansey’s subsequent effort was saved.
Crawley made a change at half-time with Claude Davis, who had been limping for most of the first period, making way for Joe Walsh
Within 10 minutes of the restart Boro were ahead. Gray made a fine run down the right into the box, and when he played the ball across goal Shroot, off balance, managed to compose himself to slot the ball past Paul Jones.
Crawley came back at their hosts and within 10 minutes were level. Nicky Adams sent in a low drive which was met with a fabulous save from Arnold, but while Boro’s defenders were pushing out Hope Akpan was the quickest to react and he fired home into the far corner.
Crawley were not level for long, as within three minutes they scored again thanks to a huge slice of luck. Dannie Bulman hit a speculative effort from distance but his shot hit Bondz N’Gala on its way into the net.
Boro were down but they weren’t out, and after Shroot had fired just wide of Paul Jones’ goal the goalkeeper pulled off two tremendous saves to deny Stevenage a point as he got both hands to Akins’ drive towards the far corner before he saved Tansey’s free-kick to hand his side victory.
Stevenage: Arnold 6, Gray 6, Comminges 6 (Charles 75), N’Gala 6, Roberts 6, Hills 6 (Freeman 75), Akins 5, Dunne 6, Tansey 6, Shroot 7, Haber 6 (Agyemang 84). Subs: Horlock, Ball, Rogers, Risser.
Crawley Town: P Jones 7, Hunt 5, Sadler 6, Connolly 6, Davis 6 (Walsh 46, 6), Adams 6 (Akinde 90), M Jones 6, Bulman 7, Simpson 6, Akpan 6, Alexander 6. Subs: Kuipers, Torres, Clifford, Ajose, Smith.