No fireworks as Stevenage are knocked out of FA Cup at Port Vale

Harry McKirdy.

Harry McKirdy. - Credit: Archant

There were to be no firework night celebrations for Stevenage as they exited the FA Cup with a 1-0 first round loss away at League One Port Vale.

The only goal of the game came seven minutes before the break when Vale defender Remie Street headed home.

Defeat was tough on Boro who dominated the second period, but could not get the goal their play deserved.

For the tie Stevenage boss Darren Sarll had kept faith with the same starting XI which won 2-1 at Mansfield United last time out.

That meant another chance for exciting 19-year-old talents Ben Kennedy and Harry McKirdy to lead the front line, despite a return to the match day squad for striker Matt Godden.

The hosts took control in the early stages as Stevenage seemed to stand off and see what their hosts were made of.

An early short corner routine for the Valiants came to nothing and the home support were quick to voice their disapproval.

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Vale’s former Stevenage midfielder Anthony Grant was involved in the first chance as his cross was headed by Nathan Smith to Streete but he volleyed well off target.

A minute later former Charlton Athletic winger Jerome Thomas, who won the FA Youth Cup twice with Arsenal, showed his crossing talents, but his team-mates did not read it as the danger was cleared.

Stevenage enjoyed more possession after that and McKirdy flicked against the post though was adjudged offside.

Henry Cowans’ saw his corner headed over by Charlie Lee as the League Two side showed they were not at the game just to make up the numbers.

More chances came their way as a scramble in the Vale box resulted in Kennedy tucking the ball in the net, however the referee blew for a free-kick in the build-up.

Cowans put a teasing though-ball behind the back line for his fellow Aston-Villa loanee McKirdy to chase, but off-balance, he couldn’t make the most of it.

Seven minutes before the break Vale broke the deadlock.

Thomas clipped a ball from the left to the far post picking out Streete and he headed past Jones.

For the start of the second half Tom Pett replaced Dale Gorman as Stevenage looked for an equaliser.

The visitors started well, but couldn’t create a clear cut chance.

Several Lee long throws were dealt with by the home defence, although one was returned to his but the former Gillingham man could only rifle low and just off target.

As the game wore on it seemed a throw or set piece would provide Stevenage’s best opportunities.

When Lee hurled in another one Pett got on to a knock down but shot too high.

Stevenege did create the odd open play attempt, from one Kgosi Ntlhe got forward to cross, he found Lee who could only nod down to Alnwick.

On a rare attack Vale could have sealed their path into the second round, Thomas’ delightful backheel left De Freitas clear only for the substitute to drag wide.

Back at the other end Boro continued to apply pressure and they appealed for a penalty in a crowded 18-yard box with nothing awarded.

Pett went close in the dying stages as he burst into the box only to arrow over.

With five minutes of added time there were still opportunities for Stevenage to level.

McKirdy sliced wide and Liburd had a shot stopped.

But seconds before the final whistle substitute Godden hit the post and skied the rebound with the goal gaping.

With that Stevenage were knocked out of the competition, but certainly went down with a fight.

Stevenage: Jones, King, Franks, Wilkinson (Godden 66), McKirdy, Kennedy (Liburd 88), Gorman (Pett 45), Lee, Cowans, Henry, Ntlhe.

Subs: Fox, Schumacher, Day, Wells.

Port Vale: Alnwick, Streete, Knops, Kelly (Hart 62), Tavares, Paterson (Cicilia 78), Thomas, Kiko (De Freitas 68), Smith, Taylor, Grant.

Subs: Mbamba, Pereira, Santos, Amoros.

Att: 3093.