Long strike seals fine win
Stevenage Boro 2 Brighton 1 Boro continued their pre-season preparations with a fine victory against Brighton this afternoon as Stacy Long announced his arrival at The Lamex Stadium with the winner. The summer signing from Ebbsfleet stooped to conquer m
Stevenage Boro 2 Brighton 1
Boro continued their pre-season preparations with a fine victory against Brighton this afternoon as Stacy Long announced his arrival at The Lamex Stadium with the winner.
The summer signing from Ebbsfleet stooped to conquer midway through the second half when he profited from some great approach play down the right by Yemi Odubade and headed home from close range.
Boro had to come from behind, however, after Gary Hart's clever finish on the stroke of half time against the run of play but Stevenage drew level from the penalty spot after Long had been fouled. Mitchell Cole duly despatched the equaliser.
While Long made an excellent impression, midfielder Joel Byrom also caught the eye with a cultured display while his delivery from set-pieces will be a useful weapon in the Blue Square Premier campaign ahead this season.
Boro were the quicker side to settle and could have gone in front in the eight minute when Charlie Griffin and Mitchell Cole linked up well.
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The summer signing from Salisbury played a slide rule pass that split the Brighton defence for Cole to run on to but his angled shot was well saved by goalkeeper Michel Kuipers.
Griffin was proving a thorn in the side of the Seagulls' back four and headed just over after Long's cross from the left. In the 15th minute the striker was left completely unmarked from a Joel Byrom corner but his miscued volley was blocked by Kuipers before being hacked away by a defender.
Brighton weren't functioning well up front with the Boro back four able to cope easily with the threat of the Seagulls while Graham Westley's side looked a penetrative force going forward.
Joel Byrom's prompting at the heart of the midfield was one of the main features of the first period and the 15,000 summer signing almost opened the scoring in the 38th minute with a clever chip from the edge of the area but Kuipers managed to backpedal quickly and tip over.
Cole then went close a minute later but the Dutch shot-stopper was there to foil Boro again when he parried the speedster's shot-cum-cross away from danger.
Boro were dealt a sucker punch a minute before the break when Andrew Whing found far too much room down the right flank and his low cross found Hart, whose darting run to the near post went untracked, and his clipped right-footed finish from six yards put the League One side ahead.
Westley resisted the temptation to make changes at half time in order for his squad to gain some match fitness ahead of the new season.
The decision was proved right seven minutes into the second period when Boro hauled themselves level from the penalty spot.
Long looked set to latch on to Byrom's clever through ball before being taken down by Mark Wright and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Cole stepped up and confidently fired the ball past substitute 'keeper Josh Pelling to his right.
Brighton had made wholesale changes to their side for the second half giving Russell Slade's side a disjointed look.
Odubade came on just after the hour-mark and made an instant impression by laying on Boro's second goal.
The former Oxford man's pace saw him get to the by-line and his perfectly weighted pull back allowed Long to head home from close range. It proved to be the former Ebbsfleet's man last action and his display gave credence those commentators who have dubbed him the Blue Square Premier signing of the summer.
Kevin McLeod's long range effort forced Chris Day into an excellent save low down to his left but, other than that, Boro managed to hold out comfortably for a morale-boosting victory.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Henry 7 (Odubade 63), Bostwick 7, Roberts 7, Laird 7 (Albrighton 82), Wilson 7, Murphy 7, Byrom 8 (Anderson 80), Long 8 (Ashton 67), Cole 7 (Odhiambo 75), Griffin 7 (Vincenti 75).