League Two: Stevenage 5 Chesterfield 1
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Christmas came early as Stevenage thumped Chesterfield in front of a bumper crowd at The Lamex Stadium to pick up their biggest league win of the season.
The front three of Alex Samuel, Matt Godden and Danny Newton ran riot in the first half, with Newton opening the scoring after 12 minutes.
Dale Gorman added a second with a well-placed finish but the away side pulled one back through Krystian Dennis’ header just before the break.
Sam Hird’s own goal restored Boro’s two-goal advantage before the interval and a Godden brace in the second period wrapped up an impressive win and secured a vital three points for Stevenage in Sky Bet League Two.
Darren Sarll made three changes from the side that fell to a 2-1 defeat at Exeter City last Saturday, with Newton, Gorman and Terence Vancooten coming into the starting XI in place of Tom Pett, Chris Whelpdale and Luke Wilkinson.
The visitors made one change, with Chesterfield boss Jack Lester handing a start to Chris O’Grady in place of Robbie Weir.
Boro had the opening chance of the game in what was a lively opening 10 minutes but Alex Samuel could only find the side netting from a tight angle after latching onto to Newton’s flicked header.
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The home side then came agonisingly close to taking the lead as Gorman’s low cross found Godden inside the penalty area but his shot was deflected onto the crossbar and behind by Chesterfield goalkeeper Jake Eastwood.
Sarll’s side continued to pile on the pressure and it was Samuel who came close again with just six minutes played. Newton’s ball across the six-yard box was on a plate for the Welshman but he was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Jak McCourt.
Chesterfield’s resolve was finally broken with 12 minutes on the clock as Samuel and Newton combined again, with the latter turning the ball past Eastwood under pressure at the near post – his 10th goal of the season – to give Stevenage a deserved lead.
A quiet spell ensued as both teams looked to settle but with 27 minutes played the game sprang into life again as the home side doubled their advantage.
Appeals for handball on the edge of the Chesterfield area were waved away by referee Craig Hicks but while others stopped, Gorman didn’t.
The Northern Irishman was quickest to react, picking up the loose ball, beating a defender and taking his time before coolly slotting a low shot into the bottom left corner of Eastwood’s goal.
Chesterfield very nearly found a way back into the game just five minutes before half-time but a superb block on the line by Boro captain Ronnie Henry denied Dennis before Joe Fryer made a good double save to keep the 2-0 lead intact.
The Spireites kept pressing and found a way through just two minutes later, though, as Dennis rose highest inside the 18-yard box to meet an Andy Kellett cross, heading into the corner just out of Fryer’s reach.
It took just 60 seconds for Boro to restore their two-goal advantage as Newton picked up the ball on the left hand side and fired a cross into the box that took a huge deflection off Sam Hird leaving Eastwood helpless between the sticks as the ball sailed into his net.
It could have been four as Jack King saw his volley saved just seconds before the interval as a frantic first half came to a close with Stevenage 3-1 up, much to the delight of the big crowd.
The away side started the second half the brightest and nearly pulled one back with just a minute played as Joe Rowley saw his driven close range effort brilliantly pushed over the bar by Fryer.
Stevenage punished the visitors for that miss just three minutes later as Godden latched onto a long ball forward from Vancooten, beating the offside trap before rolling the ball into the net to put Sarll’s side 4-1 in front.
The game was firmly in Stevenage’s grasp and they controlled possession while still creating the occasional chance. Godden’s fizzing long range effort was well saved by Eastwood but the ‘keeper couldn’t deny last season’s top scorer with 20 minutes left.
A beautiful reverse pass from substitute Ben Kennedy played Godden in and the 26-year-old did the rest, delicately chipping the ball over the onrushing Eastwood to put Boro 5-1 ahead.
Newton saw a flicked effort saved before his low drive zipped just wide of the far post with four minutes left as Stevenage secured a much needed three points in style.
A trip to Lincoln City on Boxing Day is up next as Boro look to secure another win and end 2017 on a high.
Stevenage: Fryer, Henry, King (Franks 76), Vancooten, Martin, Smith, McKee, Gorman, Samuel (Kennedy 67), Newton, Godden (Gray 75).
Unused subs: Day, Whelpdale, Beautyman, Pett.
Chesterfield: Eastwood, Binnom-Williams, Hird, Wiseman, Evatt (Dimaio 27), Dennis, O’Grady, Rowley, Kellett (De Girolamo 72), Reed, McCourt.
Unused subs: Parkin, Mitchell, Wakefield, German, Ofoegbu.