Stevenage unbeaten streak ended by Oxford

Dean Parrett

Dean Parrett - Credit: Archant

Stevenage suffered a first defeat in nine home matches as two second half goals handed Oxford United all three points.

Not since October 4 when Luton Town struck a late winner have Boro been beaten at home.

But while it was a second successive league defeat for Graham Westley’s men following last weekend’s defeat away from home at Shrewsbury Town, other results meant Stevenage lost no further ground on the play-off places.

When these two clubs met back in September they played out a soulless, drab affair that was neither entertaining nor encouraging.

Things have changed since then for Boro with an upturn in fortunes, but the first half here was reminiscent of the match at the Kassam Stadium.

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Boro were without the injured Adam Marriott and Tom Pett, while Chris Whelpdale was missing.

In came Calvin Zola up front alongside Chris Beardsley, with Roarie Deacon brought in on the right of midfield

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It took Stevenage 78 minutes to register a shot on target in the game at Oxford, but here they managed to test Ryan Clarke in the United goal on 21 minutes when Dean Parrett’s free-kick was pushed out by the keeper.

Moments earlier, on a poor pitch, Pat Hoban had tickled the Stevenage side netting with a long range effort.

Westley made two changes at the start of the second period with 18-year-old youth team captain Ben Kennedy coming on for Roarie Deacon and Calvin Zola making way for Jo N’Guessan, and with Charlie Lee moving up front there was more purpose and intensity in Boro’s play.

Kennedy was particularly good, and nearly capped a fine debut with volley that was pushed away by Clarke when it looked as though it was going to creep into the top corner.

Oxford took the lead from a set piece: Callum O’Dowda’s ball in from the left was placed on the head of Johnny Mullins, and the United player headed in for 1-0.

O’Dowda then made it 2-0 10 minutes later when the away side attacked down the right.

Boro’s changes at the break left them lacking width on the left, and when a cross came in Hogan powered a header at goal which, somehow, Day got his hand to it to push it on to the bar. Yet following up was O’Dowda who hooked his foot around it to put the result beyond doubt.

Stevenage: Day, Okimo, Henry, Wells, Charles, Deacon (Kennedy 46), Parrett (McAllister 76), Walton, Lee, Zola (N’Guessan 46), Beardsley. Subs: Beasant, Dembele, Ashton, Bond.

Oxford United: Clarke, Skarz, Brindley, Mullins, Wright, Rose, Hoban, Hylton (Roberts 87), O’Dowda (Burns 93), Whing, Collins. Subs: Crocombe, Ruffels, Long, Ashby, Dunkley.

Ref: Tim Robinson

Att: 3,146

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