Colchester United F.C
Jake Taylor 45+5, Luke Norris 49
🟥 Luke Norris 84 (🟨51 🟨 84)
Stevenage believing in miracles as win at Colchester boosts survival hopes
- Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY/TGS PHOTO
Stevenage's Football League future may not be decided until the final day of the season but what victory over Colchester United proved was they are not going down without a fight.
Manager Steve Evans went for three up front, bringing in Jamie Reid for Chris Lines as the only change from the home defeat to Oldham Athletic last time out.
And the attacking line-up delivered with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals either side of half-time by Jake Taylor and Luke Norris.
They had to survive the last six minutes, plus stoppage time, with 10 men as Norris saw red for two bookings, but survived they did.
The bigger survival picture sees them still in the bottom two but with Oldham losing at Port Vale and Barrow going down at Crawley, they are now level on points with their two rivals.
And a first win since January, some 13 games ago, will do nothing but the boost the confidence in squad and fanbase.
The opening shot of the first half went to the hosts, Noah Chilvers teeing it up and volleying it straight down Christy Pym's throat.
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That was the only time the visitors' keeper was tested in the half but the home side did threaten at times, usually at moments when Boro's defensive concentration waivered.
Fortunately both Alan Judge and Tom Eastman fired well over the top when presented with gilt-edged opportunities.
Stevenage grew into the game as the half went on though and would have been happy to go into the break level, never mind in front.
They forced a good number of corners but only threatened from one of them, Taylor playing and then receiving back a short corner but this time his effort deflected and dribbled wide.
There was no such worries about the goal though, scored in the five minute of injury time at the end of the half.
The move was spot on. Luther James-Wildin delivered a cross-field ball that Norris did exceptionally well to win against Luke Chambers.
He laid it inside for Reid who produced a superb stop from Shamal George, pushing it away one-handed down to his right.
But Boro kept the ball alive and this time when Taylor shot, the deflection took the ball up and over George into the far corner of the net, Jamie Reid following it up just in case.
And if the Boro fans thought that was good, they were in dreamland four minutes after the restart.
A long throw was cleared only as far as Ben Coker and he nodded it back the way it came, the ball up and over the advancing defence.
That left them flat-footed and even George was late to move as everyone waited for an offside flag. That was except for Norris who beat the keeper to the ball and nodded it over the keeper and into the empty net.
Colchester did get the ball in the net after a stupid foul from Reid had given them a free-kick and earned the Boro man a booking and an earful from his manager.
The ball from the set-piece was laid square allowing Chilvers to thump a shot off Pym's left-hand post. Freddie Sears put in the rebound but the flag went up for offside.
Taylor and List both limped out before the final 20 minutes and there was one worrying moment as Terence Vancooten was caught wrong side of John Akinde.
The substitute went down out of sight of the referee, who was seen visibly asking his linesman for a decision. The reply was a corner.
That seemed to be that until Norris's dismissal and seven minimum added minutes brought a touch of tension back.
In the end Boro could have snatched a third on the break.
They'll settle for three huge points.
Stevenage: Pym, James-Wildin, Coker, Cuthbert, List (Andrade 70), Taylor (Lines 64), Norris, Vancooten, Read, Reid, Bostwick.
Subs (not used): Walker, Prosser, Carter, Upson, O'Neill.
Goals: Taylor 45+5, Norris 49
Booked: Norris 51, 84, Reid 58, Coker 77, Carter 90+1
Sent-off: Norris 84
Colchester United: George, Chambers, Wiredu, Skuse (Andrews 79), Judge, Sears, Chilvers, Kenlock, Eastman, Coxe, Wright (Akinde 51).
Subs (not used): Hornby, Welch-Hayes, Smith, Tchamadeu, Huws.
Booked: Wiredu 30, Eastman 53, Kenlock 90
HT: Colchester United 0 Stevenage 1
Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey)
Attendance: 3,094 (296 from Stevenage)
Results - Saturday (April 9)
Colchester United (0) 0 Stevenage (1) 2
Crawley Town (0) 1 Barrow (0) 0
Port Vale (2) 3 Oldham Athletic (2) 2
Scunthorpe United (0) 0 Mansfield Town (3) 4
League Two table (bottom)
Next games - Good Friday (April 15)
Barrow v Forest Green Rovers
Leyton Orient v Scunthorpe United
Oldham Athletic v Northampton Town
Stevenage v Rochdale