Chesterfield 0-1 Stevenage: Ben Kennedy grabs winner after goalkeeping howler as injury concerns mount
PUBLISHED: 17:36 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 27 January 2018
Stevenage beat Chesterfield 1-0 at the Proact Stadium after a 48th minute goal from Ben Kennedy gave Darren Sarll's men three deserved points as injury concerns mounted.
The goal itself was fortuitous after a goalkeeping howler from on loan Aaron Ramsdale saw the Northern Irishman see the ball home.
As the game progressed the threadbare nature of Sarll’s side was exposed as Kennedy, Matty Godden and Danny Newton all hobbled off – the first two with knocks and the latter through exhaustion after his exertions – as the Boro boss brought on Luke Wilkinson, Tom Conlon and Tom Pett to leave the side without a recognised forward.
Stevenage suffered a blow before the match when they lost Arsenal loan signing Ben Sheaf to a knock in training at Bragbury End on Friday which was a blow for the threadbare visitors.
Sarll opted for more solidity by having Fraser Franks in the heart of the battle as a deep lying midfielder before switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation in the second half after his attacking trident were replaced.
Franks, who was thrown in as a late centre-forward at Morecambe to grab a superlative volley to help grab a deserved point for Stevenage two weeks ago, again showed he was a consummate team man by filing in wherever he is needed.
Boro started the game on the back of flat 0-0 against Carlisle after their disappointing 3-0 defeat at Reading in the FA Cup third round replay at the Madjeski Stadium.
There was hope for Boro from history because it was around this time last term, following a dispiriting 2-0 loss to a Hartlepool side which would ultimately be relegated, that Boro embarked on their splendid run of form which took them to within a whisker of the play-offs.
Who knows, the vital three points they picked up on Saturday could propel them into something similar this time around – although they will have to hope the knocks their front men suffered do not prove to be anything serious.
Chesterfield made their intentions clear on nine minutes when Joe Rowley made inroads down the visitors left flank as they who were missing the consistent Joe Martin who failed to start his first game of the season. Luckily for Boro the curl of the ball took it away from onrushing Spireites forward Kristian Dennis.
What wasn’t lucky was the composure young guns Terrence van Cooten and Ben Wilmot showed in keeping a busy forward line at bay as Boro started to gain a foothold in the game.
Mark McKee crossed from a free kick for a header to thud against the bar in a crowded box before the ball fell to Franks. Unfortunately the former AFC Wimbledon man scooped his shot over the bar after a deflection in the melee.
On the half hour mark former West Ham man Zavon Hines cut in off Boro’s right flank to angle a shot across Tom King’s goal. If anything the lively Dennis got in the way when the ball came and referee Mark Heywood had no option but to judge the move offside.
While a run of 10 wins and two draws from 13 league games would be hugely welcomed again, three points from Derbyshire against the team sitting one place and one point above the relegation zone would have at least led to the travelling fans looking up at the table rather than down.
But as Heywood blew for the end of the first half, 0-0 was a fair reflection on the game full of full-blooded commitment and attacking intent, if not as much quality as desired given the amount of talent on show at this level.
However, early in the second half the 174 loyal travelling Boro fans in the impressive attendance of 4,981 at the Proact had reason to celebrate after Ben Kennedy scored to put them 1-0 ahead.
The goal, while enjoyable for Kennedy and his delighted team-mates and the fans was a personal disaster for the highly-rated young Bournemouth loanee Aaron Ramsdale.
The Cherries man came racing out of his box to clear a long ball from Wilmot but completely misread angle of the ball and if anything got to the ball far too early which meant he fluffed his kick.
To his horror it flew past him centrally after a ricochet off Kennedy’s shins. The forward then followed it in before celebrating in front of the delirious Boro fans.
Ramsden was distraught but will learn from the experience to become a better keeper, even if you felt for the poor lad.
The clock ticked down and the Boro rearguard dropped deeper and deeper, even if it was through expediency rather than choice, and you felt something would have to give, certainly after six minutes were added on.
Yet Boro held on to record a tremendous win which showed they have as much heart as any side in this division. It was great to see the players head over to the fans at the end, united in joy and relief.
It was also great to see Sarll join the celebrations at the end. For if anyone deserved the first three points on the road since September it was him.
What he also deserves is a few more additions to the squad before the transfer window slams shut.