League Two: Stevenage 2 Port Vale 0
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage made it three wins in a week thanks to a goal in each half against Vale.
The hosts started brightly against a visiting side who began the day in 22nd spot with five points and a sole win on the opening day of the season at Crawley.
The Valiants are being steered by caretaker managers Chris Morgan and Ned Kelly and came to the Lamex on the back of a 2-1 home defeat at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday.
Stevenage however faced the match buoyed by an excellent 2-0 victory at the Cumbrian outpost of Carlisle when, such has been the harmony between boss Darren Sarll, his men and the fans, the team had a whipround to fund a pie and a pint at half time at Brunton Park for the 34 loyal Boro fans who made the long trip.
It was a spontaneous gesture of goodwill that won acclaim from many within the game this week and is symptomatic of Sarll’s progressive reign on and off the pitch at Stevenage.
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What is also impressive is the start the team has made this term – bar a mini-blip where the team slipped from third with one point in nine. Thankfully with two good wins since Sarll was looking for a third on the bounce to further propel the club up the League Two ladder.
Vale carved the first chance of the game on six minutes as Peterborough’s former million pound man Tyrone Barnet shot low to Boro keeper Joe Fryer’s left, but the on-loan Middlesbrough shot stopper was equal to the task.
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Three minutes later the ever-lively Danny Newton powered through a clutch of Vale defenders before firing off a shot that went over the bar.
It was an energetic start punctuated by full-blooded challenges bordering on impropriety. Vale’s big centre half Tom Anderson clattered into Newton moments later, which in days gone by would have been a tackle described as ‘letting your man know you’re there’.
Matty Godden then showed a good turn of pace allied with strength as he beared down on goal after a slip by a Vale defender attempting a high line.
Godden angled his run to a central position but his shot was blocked by keeper Roos. It was heartening to see Godden show honesty in staying on his feet as the last man tried to pull his arm back.
Karma had taken note as Boro went 1-0 up on 22 minutes, although Lady Luck had nothing to do with the goal.
That street footballer honed by Sarll himself at Stevenage’s academy a few years back, Ben Kennedy, powered past his marker from a central position before laying off an inch-perfect pass for Newton to run onto before firing emphatically past Roos and low into the far corner.
It was a goal that perfectly summed up Sarll and his ethos – hard work, power and energy combined with no little flair and technique.
David Worral threatened for Vale with a header that was cleared off the line by Ronnie Henry then Tom Pope followed up with an effort that Fryer gathered.
But Tom Pett then had a shot palmed away from Roos as the resulting corner came to nothing.
And as referee Charles Breakspear blew for half time the feeling was that their 1-0 lead was fully deserved although Boro should have been further in front.
The second half was only nine minutes old, though, when Stevenage did double their advantage through Jonathan Smith.
They had gone close soon after the restart as Kennedy, Pett and Newton combined, before the goalscorer forced Roos into a strong save, but the Vale keeper was given no chance by Smith’s superb curling effort from the edge of the box.
Pett wasted a good chance to make it 3-0 after swapping passes with Kennedy and Godden fired a volley over, before Fraser Franks was denied by a goalline clearance.
But Stevenage were good value for their latest triumph as they consolidated their place in the play-off picture.
Stevenage: Fryer, Henry, Franks, Vancooten, Martin, Kennedy (Conlon 90), Smith, Gormman, Pett, Newton (Wootton 60), Godden (Gray 89). Unused subs: Wilkinson, Whelpdale, Day, Toner.