Match report: Stevenage 0 Coventry City 1

Leon Clarke scores past Chris Day at his near post. Photo: Danny Loo

Leon Clarke scores past Chris Day at his near post. Photo: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Leon Clarke fires Coventry City to victory

Luke Freeman tries a stepover to beat the defender. Photo: Danny Loo

Luke Freeman tries a stepover to beat the defender. Photo: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Stevenage 0 Coventry City 1

Sky Bet League 1

After 10 matches last season, Tranmere Rovers topped League 1 with Stevenage behind them in second place. This evening, after both teams were beaten in their respective 10th matches of this campaign, Rovers are bottom with Boro one place above with both teams on five points.

In his programme notes for today’s match, Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace said the club wants to go ‘onwards and upwards towards a top-six place’, and although this was an improved performance from last week’s 4-1 loss at MK Dons there is still plenty of work to do.

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The result leaves Boro without a home win in the league since the single-goal victory over Hartlepool United on April 1 – Graham Westley’s first match in charge following his return to the club – and it extended their winless run to six matches. Afterwards, though, the Stevenage manager said he can see the will to win in his players’ eyes.

Stevenage had gone into the match having made two changes from the previous week’s defeat at MK Dons with Lee Hills and Sam Wedgbury making way for Robin Shroot and Oumare Tounkara.

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Jon Ashton had an early sight at goal, flicking Greg Tansey’s free-kick just wide of the target, but worryingly for Boro their defence then parted and John Fleck, left with an open space in front of him, fired just past Chris Day’s left-hand post.

Greg Tansey earned a ninth-minute booking for timewasting before Day then made a fine one-handed save after getting low down to his right to keep out Conor Thomas’ effort.

Coventry had too often been afforded space in front of the Stevenage defence in the opening stages, but despite having a number of chances they failed to find the net.

The visitors were almost made to pay when, after Tounkara had pulled the ball back to him 20 yards out, Tansey set his sights but could only curl a shot around the far side of Joe Murphy’s goal.

Boro were proving dangerous on the break, and they went close again on 25 minutes. Peter Hartley’s clearance found Freeman running into the Coventry half and after a couple of stepovers and a slip, the winger got to his feet still in possession and fired just wide of goal.

Coventry took the lead just after the half-hour mark, and it was Shroot’s backpass that put Leon Clarke in with the Coventry striker finding his bearings before firing past Day.

It was a blow for Boro, and they were almost dealt another one soon afterwards. This time it was Clarke’s striker partner Callum Wilson with the effort, his shot from distance taking a deflection before flying over the crossbar.

Wilson is City’s top scorer so far this season with nine goals, and the striker thought he had earned his side a penalty with five minutes of the second half gone.

He beat Ashton for pace on the far side, and as he ran into the box he seemed to be clipped by the Stevenage captain before going down. The referee, though, waved play on to the astonishment of the visiting supporters behind the goal.

Boro made a double change soon afterwards with Dani Lopez and Filipe Morais replacing Shroot and Tansey, while Lucas Akins was also brought on for his first involvement since the opening day of the season to replace Tounkara with 20 minutes to go.

Ten minutes later Boro had their best chance of the game, and it came from a set piece routine that Boro’s fans have seen before.

The free-kick was 22 yards from goal, and when Freeman ran over the ball and down the side of the Coventry wall he was played in before squaring the ball to Ashton. The centre-back, who was two yards from goal, flicked out a boot but Joe Murphy saved well.

A Michael Doughty half-volley aside, that was the last meaningful chance of the game and Boro will hope for a better outcome when they entertain MK Dons again on Tuesday evening in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Stevenage: Day, Smith, Deacon, Ashton, Hartley, Shroot (Lopez 57), Freeman, Dunne, Doughty, Tansey (Morais 56), Tounkara (Akins 69). Subs: Arnold, Jones, Wedgbury, Andrade.

Coventry City: Murphy, Christie (Garner 87), Adams, Webster, Thomas, Fleck, L Clarke, Moussa, Barton (Willis 77), Wilson, J Clarke. Subs: Burge, Manset, Haynes, Rankin, Maddison.

Att: 3,325

Ref: G Scott

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