Long strike sinks Charlton
Boro 1-0 Charlton
Stevenage 1 Charlton Athletic 0
npower League 1
STEVENAGE ended their five game winless streak as Stacy Long’s deflected effort accounted for league leaders Charlton Athletic.
Long struck early in the first half to put Boro ahead and Graham Westley’s side held on for three points as a resolute rearguard action kept out the former Premier League outfit.
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Boro hit their stride early on and went ahead on 11 minutes in slightly fortuitous circumstances. A good advantage from referee Naylor allowed Boro to find Long on the left wing and he strode inside his man and let fly from 30 yards. Long’s effort looked set to test Ben Hamer to the full but a wicked deflection off of a defender meant the diving Charlton stopper could only look on as the ball rippled the net.
That goal visibly lifted the home side and they began to test the Addicks’ defence regularly, with Byron Harrison and Craig Reid linking up well.
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Long stung the palms of Hamer with another long range effort but Charlton could easily have been level when Leon Cort rose unmarked at the far post to meet Johnnie Jackson’s corner only for the former Boro loanee to send the ball out for a throw in instead of turn it over the goalline.
Boro’s best openings kept falling to Long and it required a smart save from Hamer to stop the former Charlton trainee from doubling his, and Boro’s tally.
Reid was the architect, his excellent footwork taking the ball away from Cort before sliding in a perfect pass behind Michael Morrison for Long to run onto. The Boro midfielder did everything right, firing the ball low and hard but Hamer saved well with his feet to let the Addicks off the hook.
The goalkeeper nearly handed Boro a second in first half stoppage time though when he was caught in possession outside his area by Reid. Morrison’s quick throw-in back to Hamer looked harmless enough at first but the goalkeeper was caught taking too many touches by Reid. The angle was difficult for the right footed shot though and Reid’s effort sailed across the face of the unguarded goal and out for a throw in.
Boro continued to push for a second after the break and Wilson’s surging run should have produced more than the corner it provided.
Chris Powell’s visitors saw more of the ball after the break but they were forced to test Chris Day with long range efforts as the Boro defence closed ranks.
Ashton did well to clear Jackson’s cross but the ball fell to Rhoys Wiggins who powered into the box and forced a good save low down from Chris Day.
There was nothing the Boro stopper could do minutes later when Bradley Wright-Phillips burst through a non-existent offside trap but fortunatley for the home side the Charlton striker dragged his effort wide of the keeper’s far post.
At the other end Boro’s search for a second goal saw them hit the bar through an Ashton header.
Laird was fouled by Danny Green in the centre circle and from the resulting set play Henry hung the ball up for the big defender whose header came back off the bar. The ball fell invitingly in the six-yard box but Leon Cort beat Reid to the loose ball to head behind for a corner.
Charlton’s best opportunity of the second half also came from the head of a centre half but Cort was denied by Day’s save.
Jackson delivered an excellent cross from the left wing that Cort rose highest to meet but the one-time Boro loanee saw his header turned around the foot of the post by a sprawling Day.
The Boro defence had to withstand heavy pressure for the remainder of the encounter, including a rather generous six minutes of added time, but the Addicks were unable to unlock a Boro backline intent on preserving a second clean sheet of the campaign.
Boro: Day; Henry, Ashton, Roberts �, Laird; Wilson, Mousinho, Bostwick, Long (Shroot 69); Reid (Beardsley 57), Harrison (Byrom 82).
Subs not used: Julian, Edwards.
Charlton: Hamer; Morrison, Taylor (Hayes 88), Cort, Wiggins; Green (Wagstaff 72), Hollands, Stephens (Evina 81), Jackson �; Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips.
Subs not used: Sullivan, Solly.
Referee: M Naylor