REPORT: Stevenage 1 Brentford 0
- Credit: Archant
Marcus Haber fires Boro to victory as Gary Smith’s men sink promotion hopefuls Brentford
Stevenage 1 Brentford 0
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After Saturday’s home defeat to Colchester United Gary Smith walked down the tunnel at the Lamex Stadium to a chorus of boos after a 2-0 defeat.
Here, after seeing his side win for the first time in seven matches, the Stevenage manager was met with a standing ovation from many sections of the crowd after his side had thoroughly outplayed a Brentford outfit gunning for promotion.
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Boro, too, were hopeful of promotion at one point this season after a promising first third of the campaign, but an almighty slump in recent months had left Smith and co looking over their shoulder at the possibility of a relegation dogfight.
The Boro boss spoke on Saturday about the need for three wins from their remaining 12 matches to stay up, and while this victory has not dragged them to safety it may just galvanise what had been a tired and struggling squad.
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Stevenage began the game with four changes from Saturday. With Ben Chorley injured in came Miguel Comminges at left-back with Darius Charles moving across to partner Mark Roberts in the centre of defence.
In goal Chris Day made way for Steve Arnold, while in midfield there was no place for Anthony Grant with Luke Freeman starting inside left and up front Sam Hoskins was drafted in to replace Lucas Akins.
There was a real intent from the off from Boro with Hoskins playing no small part in it. His running with the ball, and closing down of defenders when without it, allowed Boro’s midfield to push up and this allowed for a more cohesive attacking display.
Between them Hoskins and Marcus Haber forced an early corner for the hosts, and when Freeman pinged a cross to the far side of the six yard box Gavin Mahon was there to head the ball against the post before it bounced off a defender and forced Simon Moore into a good save.
Boro were a threat from set pieces in the early stages and with 17 minutes on the clock they hit the woodwork again, this time Haber smashing a header from Greg Tansey’s corner on to the bar from eight yards.
Between them Haber, Hoskins and Freeman excelled in the first half, with the partnership of the latter two down the left causing all sorts of problems for the visitors, and between them the trio offered the Stevenage midfield plenty of targets to hit with passes, something that has been lacking in recent matches.
Hoskins went through on goal midway through the half but off-balance he could not get enough on his shot and Brentford cleared, before at the other end Brentford had their first proper chance on goal when Bradley Wright-Phillips turned and shot straight at Arnold.
There was another save on 35 minutes, this time from Moore. Freeman was the provider, whipping in a superb cross to the far post where Haber got his head on it only for the Bees goalkeeper to stick out a leg and deny the front man.
Brentford made two changes at the break with Harry Forrester and Shaleum Logan replacing Jake Bidwell and Jake Reeves, and it was Uwe Rosler’s men who had the first meaningful attack of the half, Clayton Donaldson forcing a save from Arnold.
Hoskins then hit an effort wide before Wright-Phillips turned from two players, touched the ball past Charles, who had an otherwise outstanding game, and fired over from the edge of the box in a warning to the Boro defence.
The only goal of the match came on 75 minutes, and it came from the boot of Haber.
A clearance as far as Roberts 35 yards from the Brentford goal saw the centre-back head powerfully back into the Bees’ area and getting just in front of his man Haber slid in to poke the ball past the onrushing Moore.
There was still time for Wright-Phillips to test Arnold again while Hoskins, so deserving of a goal, forced Moore into a stop, but most telling of all was that in the final stages of the match Boro did not panic but saw the game out quite comfortably for a deserved win.
Stevenage (4-1-3-2): Arnold 7; Gray 6, Comminges 6, Charles 8, Roberts 8; Mahon 8; Freeman 7, Dunne 8 (Akins 89), Tansey 6 (Grant 85), Hoskins 8 (Shroot 90), Haber 8. Subs: Day, Iro, Jeffrey, Beleck.
Brentford (4-4-2): S Moore 7, L Moore 6, Bidwell 5 (Logan 46, 5, Craig 7, Dean 6, Forshaw 6, Douglas 7, Adeyemi 5 (Dallas 79), Reeves 5 (Forrester 46, 7), Wright-Phillips 7, Donaldson 5. Subs: Lee, Diagouraga, Hayes, Trotta.
Att: 2,794 (882)