Stevenage make it four in a row with convincing win over Cheltenham

Stevenage manager Darren Sarll celebrates victory. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Stevenage manager Darren Sarll celebrates victory. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Stevenage put in a battling performance to take all three points despite losing Charlie Lee to a red card early in the second half of their 2-1 win over Cheltenham.

At 2-0 following Matt Godden’s penalty, his ninth goal in nine matches, and Luke Wilkinson’s header, Boro looked comfortable with goalkeeper Jamie Jones hardly having to dirty his gloves.

And even after Lee’s dismissal for a second yellow card when he blocked Alex Pike as Cheltenham broke forward with half an hour still to go it took some time for the visitors to turn home their numerical advantage.

In the final 10 minutes they threw everyone forward - including goalkeeper Scott Brown for one free-kick - yet still failed to produce much besides Kyle Wootton’s spectacular volley for 2-1.

Through sheer determination and a will to hang on Boro’s players, most notably Jobi McAnuff and Wilkinson, threw themselves in front of hopeful shots as Stevenage kept Cheltenham at bay and kept all three points for themselves.

The win was Boro’s fourth in succession and moved Darren Sarll’s men to within two points of the League Two play-offs ahead of their trip to sixth-place Exeter City this coming weekend.

Boro had made the one change from their 3-0 triumph over Wycombe at the weekend with the injured Jack King (hamstring) missing out and Fraser Franks taking his place in the heart of the defence.

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After a scrappy 16 minutes Boro took the lead after Godden, taking a pass just inside the Cheltenham half, ran towards the box and was pushed by Emmanuel Onariase as he made his way inside it. He then dusted himself down and fired low and right to beat Brown.

McAnuff, Boro’s best player in the game, then saw a shot saved by Brown as Boro made all of the running.

There was even that rare thing – a Ronnie Henry shot.

From 25 yards the full-back took aim as he looked to notch his first Stevenage goal since 2009, but it hit a defender as it drifted wide.

Wilkinson then headed home the hosts’ second from a free-kick routine on 50 minutes as Lee ran to the far post to nod Steven Schumacher’s set piece back across goal to the centre-half.

Lee, who had been booked for a foul late in the first half, was then dismissed on 56 minutes with Tom Pett dropping deeper into central midfield to cover his departure.

Ben Kennedy had been introduced by Sarll and quickly made a nuisance of himself as Boro’s main outlet and Stevenage continued to have the better chances.

Twice McAnuff forced Brown into saves, the first of which was an outstanding stop to flick the winger’s shot over his bar, before Cheltenham finally pushed forward and got a goal back when Wootton arched his body at a corner and volleyed home.

But for all of their huffing there was no end product for the visitors and Jones had a fairly comfortable final 10 minutes as Boro held on.

It was a thoroughly deserved three points and leaves Stevenage very much on the up ahead of this weekend’s trip down to Devon.

Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Ogilvie, Franks, Wilkinson, Lee, Schumacher, McAnuff, Pett, McQuoid (Tonge 77), Godden (Kennedy 55). Subs: Day, Gorman, Wells, Cowans, Hinds.

Cheltenham Town: Brown, Pell, Waters (Dayton 66), Boyle, Cranston, Rowe, Wootton, Onariase, Pike, Winchester (Holman 60), Davis (Munns 78). Subs: Kitscha, Storer, O’Shaughnessy, Girolamo.

Att: 1,930 (79 away)