A disappointing performance from Boro
Cambridge United 1 Stevenage Boro 0 Boro boss Mark Stimson described this as the most disappointing performance of the season, and in a campaign which has seen some real stinkers already, that was a brave assessment. But with that in mind perhaps now is t
Cambridge United 1 Stevenage Boro 0
Boro boss Mark Stimson described this as the most disappointing performance of the season, and in a campaign which has seen some real stinkers already, that was a brave assessment.
But with that in mind perhaps now is the time for a reality check and an acceptance that Boro are much further down the Conference food chain than many supposed.
With the new manager missing out on so many players on the wanted list before transfer deadline day, it may be that Boro are turning into the minnows of non-league's top flight.
Life in the bottom half of the table, like red-hot September days, may be here to stay.
On Saturday hopes of a quick fix against fellow dinosaurs Cambridge United proved non-existent as Boro were outclassed from start to finish. The fact that the entire second half was played against 10 men will have simply cranked up the depression around Broadhall Way.
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The first few minutes were all we really needed to see as Cambridge tore into the visitors, former Boro man Jon Brady seeing a shot charged down after just 44 seconds while soon after Marcus Richardson failed to connect when close in. It was a chance it looked easier to convert.
And it was not to be the only time Richardson was involved as the giant Us frontman proved a thorn all game long for Boro's fragile defence.
The woodwork then came to Boro's aid on six minutes when Brady whipped in a telling free-kick which Mark Peters saw cannon back into play.
It was a warning which the flimsy back four failed to heed and Richardson again got into a good position as he guided a Brady corner just over with a towering header.
Uncomfortable in the early exchanges, Jason Goodliffe gifted Richardson a chance with a poor header down but again Boro's luck held as the striker failed to make a good connection.
Goodliffe's luck was not as good, he was booked for a foul on 21 minutes and replaced by Luke Oliver four minutes later.
It was not all one-way traffic and Boro did muster a little up front.
George Boyd was in the thick of the action seeing two strikes forced away while Steve Morison cut through free on goal and should have done better when he drilled at Paul Crichton's legs with only the keeper to beat.
Entertaining for the neutral, Cambridge always held the upper hand in this contest and they got the deserved opener on 33 minutes, Richardson finally guiding the ball home after a cross in from the left by Robbie Simpson.
It should have been more before the break. Brady had three chances to add to the total while Richardson again made a mockery of the height in Boro's defence when he rose first for a header on 43 minutes only to send the ball over the bar.
All it needed now was a turning point and we got on, on cue, on the stroke of half time, when Ritchie Hanlon was shown a straight red for a two-footed lunge on Dwane Lee.
Cambridge were incensed, their chairman Lee Power embarrassingly so, but it was a heaven sent chance for Boro to get back into the game and get out of their Conference tailspin.
They failed. And they failed with a second-half performance which was miserable, purely because they never looked likely to make the extra man tell.
Cambridge may have tried to shut up shop, but Boro did not even show any will to batter the door down.
And that, more than anything, will have riled the magnificent away support of almost 500 who kept going for the full 90 minutes.
Chris Sullivan replaced Craig Dobson on 55 minutes but the change did little to alter Boro's prospects, Boyd seeing a shot blocked on 73 minutes after neat interplay with Sullivan while Boro's sub raced through on goal only to see his strike charged down by Rob Gier.
In truth the goal never looked likely to come and Boro exited from this dogfight with no pride, and even fewer points.