Goal problem? What problem?
Stevenage continue fine run of form after putting three past Rotherham on Tuesday night
STEVENAGE made it four wins from five when they beat promotion hopefuls Rotherham on Tuesday evening.
It was the first time this season Graham Westley’s men had beaten a team in the top half of the division, and they did so with three moments of brilliance.
Those who didn’t make the game – there was only 1,549 in attendance for the second of five consecutive homes games – may see the scoreline as the sign of a dominant attacking display but it would be unfair on Boro’s back line which kept the gifted Adam Le Fondre and strike-partner Ryan Taylor quiet for much of the game.
The visitors began with some nice attacking flair, but despite making an impact down both wings and being helped by Michael Bostwick uncharacteristically giving the ball away in the centre of the park they failed to penetrate the Boro box and capitalise on their early promise.
Scott Laird scored on Saturday against Morecambe and he fancied his chances again with a dipping strike that went just over Andy Warrington’s bar within five minutes of the off.
Other efforts came and went with David Bridges, making his first start since Southend United on November 23, and Rotherham’s Marcus Marshall trying their luck without success.
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Chris Beardsley was another who had an effort on goal but he was unable to collect his second league goal of the season, seeing his header go a yard too high.
Elsewhere for Stevenage Peter Winn was having a quite night but with three minutes of the half remaining he popped up to run onto a ball over the top whilst being chased by his marker.
Quicker to the ball he stepped on the accelerator before then slamming on the brakes to watch his marker run past him before tapping the ball behind the Rotherham centre-back and cutting inside to unleash a fierce left-footed effort into the corner of the net to give his side the lead.
In response Rotherham, who had lost their last two games before their visit to Stevenage, went on the front foot and hit the post through Danny Harrison.
The match was on – and straight from the goal kick Bostwick curled a shot inches wide with Warrington at full stretch.
Boro went into the break a goal up but their opponents were lacking that cutting edge.
In the air Le Fondre and Taylor struggled to match Mark Roberts and Jon Ashton, while down the wing they rarely got the better of Ronnie Henry and Laird.
The visitors were restricted to shots from the edge of the area but had a very neat one on 57 minutes when Le Fondre showed the home crowd just what he’s capable of when he turned and in one movement connected neatly to a volley which went just wide of Chris Day’s goal.
Byron Harrison came on for the final seven minutes for Boro and with his first touch he sealed the win. The striker looks a promising purchase for Boro, but his tap-in was textbook after fellow substitute Rob Sinclair had laid it on a plate for him from six yards.
With five minutes to go Boro were two up but they had a great chance to make it three when they broke two-on-one. However, Laird failed to provide Beardsley with a suitable pass to finish off from inside the box and the striker was left stretching to spin the ball wide.
Laird had been an attacking force all evening but when, in the 91st minute, Lawrie Wilson passed the ball back to him 25 yards from goal, few would have predicted what happened next.
Rather than run onto hit it full strength, the full-back took a couple of steps and gently stroked the ball beautifully over a stranded Warrington and into the goal.
It was the top corner, it was top drawer – and it took Boro into the top half of the table.
Stevenage (4-4-1-1): Day 6, Henry 7, Laird 7, Roberts 8, Ashton 7, Wilson 6, Mousinho 7 (Sinclair 6, 55), Bostwick 6, Winn 6 (Harrison, 83), Bridges 6 (Charles 6, 67), Beardsley 7. Subs: Bayes, Foster, Daley, Griffin.
Rotherham (4-4-2): Warrington 6, Tonge 6, Mullins 6, Fenton 6, Green 7, Law 6, Harrison 6 (Randall, 72), Ellison 6 (Warne, 72), Marshall 7 (Pope, 86), Le Fondre 6, Taylor 6. Subs: Newey, Ashworth, Bradley, Annerson.