Stevenage sweep the floor with Southend but fans show their disinterest
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Stevenage swept the floor with Southend United in their final Checkatrade Trophy group stage match.
Steven Schumacher scored a fine first-half free-kick while Matt Godden and a Rowan Liburd brace saw Boro to victory, but although they will progress no further in the competition the club has earned £10,000 from this win alone.
That will make up for a shortfall in earnings from the gate receipts, however, as only 559 turned up for the dying embers of Stevenage’s campaign in this particular trophy.
While that number was higher than the match against Brighton & Hove Albion last month, it was as Southend Echo report Chris Phillips wrote on Twitter ‘the lowest crowd Southend have played in front of in England in a competitive game’ and at times the atmosphere felt like a training match.
A lack of interest from supporters up and down the land combined with stories such as England players participating in so-called U23 teams has blighted the competition this season, so all Stevenage could do was attempt to continue their fine recent performances with the match that was put before them.
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They did so despite a raft of changes including Nathan Kerr in at right-back, Michael Tonge partnering Schumacher in central midfield and Liburd starting up front alongside Godden.
Schumacher opened the scoring just moments after forcing a fine save out of Ted Smith. Both were free-kicks, but though the first was a powerful shot which Smith pushed just over the second from a player who around this time last year suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury crept inside the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.
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Boro took the game to Southend in the first period and Godden slipped the ball under Smith for 2-0 following a quickly taken free-kick.
The same player then forced a save out of Smith before Liburd poked goalwards only for Harry Kyprianou to block.
For much of the first period Chris Day’s involvement was made up of the odd clearance, but five minutes before the break he was forced into a fine save from Michael Timlin before moments later Luke O’Neill struck the bar.
But that’s about as close as Southend came, for in the second half Boro had more chances and could easily have scored six or seven in total instead of the four they accrued thanks to Liburd’s low curled effort into the far corner and then his header from a couple of yards out.
Henry Cowans, the Aston Villa youngster, also went close after coming off the bench only for Smith to palm his shot away, while for Southend defender Adam Barrett turned and fired at Day as Boro kept their clean sheet.
Next up for Stevenage is a home game against Yeovil Town on Saturday.
Stevenage: Day, Kerr, Fox (Cowans 63), Franks, Wilkinson, Pett, Gorman, Tonge, Schumacher (Slater 78), Liburd, Godden (Kennedy 67). Subs: Jones, McKirdy, Henry, Wilmot.
Southend United; Smith, White, Thompson (Sokolik 46), Barrett, O’Neill, Timlin (Wordsworth 63), Cox (Bridge 9), Fortune, King, McGlashan, Kyprianou. Subs: Bexon, McLaughlin, Williams, Matsuzaka,