REPORT: Stevenage 0 AFC Bournemouth 1

Darius Charles, left, is about to receive a second yellow card. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Darius Charles, left, is about to receive a second yellow card. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Pitman’s penalty sinks Boro as Charles is sent off in injury time

Lee Hills attempts to take on his man. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Lee Hills attempts to take on his man. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Stevenage 0 AFC Bournemouth 1

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Stevenage fell to a 13th defeat in 16 matches as Brett Pitman’s first-half penalty handed AFC Bournemouth all three points on Tuesday evening.

Pitman stepped up to score from the spot after Stevenage goalkeeper Steve Arnold was adjudged to have fouled Eunan O’Kane, while in the dying moments of the second half Boro’s Darius Charles was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Stevenage had gone into the game with Lucas Akins and Lee Hills coming in for the injured Gavin Mahon and the suspended David Gray, and with U18 players George Allen and Harold Joseph on the bench.

Gary Smith’s men began well enough with Akins making a good run before firing just wide, while at the other end Lewis Grabban stuck an effort straight at Arnold.

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Bournemouth retained the ball well and pressed to get it back when out of possession, but for all of their endeavour they struggled to carve out many clear-cut chances apart from a Matt Ritchie effort straight at Arnold before the wide man exited with a head injury.

Of course, if you have possession then you are more likely than your opponent to create an opening.

And when O’Kane played a one-two with Pitman seven minutes from the break he chipped Arnold before the goalkeeper’s momentum saw him collide with the midfielder with Pitman stepping up to fire the subsequent penalty home.

There was a change in formation for Boro at the start of the second half with Akins coming over to the left of midfield, Sam Hoskins moving to the right and Luke Freeman through the centre which allowed the former Arsenal winger more space in which to operate.

Stevenage went close to drawing level on 52 minutes when Greg Tansey sent a free kick into the box and Miguel Comminges got his head on it only to see Steve Cook to clear it from danger.

Freeman then collected the ball 30 yards from goal before turning, running and firing just over.

It was a lively start to the half from the hosts, but despite seeing more of the ball they were increasingly denied space in which to operate.

Smith brought on Robin Shroot for Hoskins, a decision which resulted in some boos from the home support, and Hills, steady at left-back, pushed up more on the left only to be left short of options when looking to offload the ball.

Anthony Jeffrey, on loan from Arsenal, also made an appearance with 10 minutes to go, and he looked lively on the ball and managed one shot which was saved.

Scoring goals has been a problem for Stevenage in recent weeks with Boro finding the net just three times in the past eight games, and they failed to test Ryan Alsop often enough in this encounter.

To make matters worse they were also reduced to 10 men in injury time.

Charles and Harry Arter both went for the ball, and although Stevenage were awarded the subsequent free-kick Charles was sent off in a decision that bewildered Smith.

There was a melee on the pitch, and another one in the dugout from which Boro fitness coach Neil Withington was asked to leave the pitch, while Arter was stretchered off to receive treatment.

The referee soon called time on the game, bringing to an end what was fast becoming a fiery encounter, to leave Boro with six defeats in seven, though they remain 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

Looking ahead Boro will be without Charles and the suspended David Gray for this Saturday’s visit of Sheffield United, though James Dunne will be back from suspension and it is hoped Gavin Mahon will return from injury.

Stevenage (4-4-2): Arnold 6, Comminges 4, Hills 7, Roberts 6, Charles 6, Akins 5 (Jeffrey 81), Freeman 7, Tansey 5, Grant 5, Hoskins 6 (Shroot 66, 6), Haber 6. Subs: Day, Iro, Allen, Joseph, Beleck.

AFC Bournemouth (4-4-2): Allsop 6, Francis 6, Ritchie 5 (Fraser 34, 5 (Hughes 66, 5)), Cook 6, Seaborne 5, Fogden 7, Pugh 7, Arter 6 (MacDonald 90), O’Kane 6, Grabban 6, Pitman 6. Subs: Jalal, McQuoid, Tubbs, Fletcher.

Referee: Lee Collins

Attendance: 2,418