Stevenage 0-1 Watford: Late Andre Gray winner harsh on battling Boro as high-tempo pressing stings Premier League Hornets
PUBLISHED: 22:51 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 23:23 27 July 2018
An 88th minute goal by Watford's Andre Gray gave the Premier League side a 1-0 victory over an impressive Stevenage side on Friday night.
Dino Maamria’s side may have fallen to their second loss in four days against a side from the top flight of English football but there were many positives to take from the League Two side.
Vicarage Road boss Javi Gracia brought a strong squad to Broadhall Way including former Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes, Etienne Capoue, Jack Rodwell, Daryl Janmaat and Troy Deeney all feature.
Ben Wilmot started the match for the Hornets – even if the former Boro centre-half was played as a defensive midifielder.
Stevenage’s first £1 million sale certainly has the talent to feature as a shield in front of the backline but his inexperience showed as a determined home side overran the middle as their intensive pressing game put their more illustrious visitors on the back foot during a hard-fought first half.
Boro boss Maamria made five changes to the side which lost narrowly to Crystal Palace on Tuesday night as Scott. Cuthbert, Ben Nugent and Alex Revell returned to the starting XI.
Danny Newton also started while Mark McKee missed out after picking up a knock during the warm-up giving James Ferry a starting berth.
Highly-rated home keeper Paul Farman showed his quality by emphatically blocking shots by Watford’s Will Hughes and Sebastian Prodl within the space of 30 seconds.
Farman showed excellent footwork, anticipation and reflexes throughout the match and looks to be an excellent prospect, even if he may be slightly disappointing at not clearing the ball in the build up to former Luton and Burnley forward Gray’s goal.
Nugent had a chance to put Boro ahead moments before the break after a Joel Byron free-kick, but Gomes kept him out.
It was instructive to watch Byrom’s excellent delivery from set-pieces, which looks to be a feature of the team.
After the break Revell nearly scored but again Gomes proved equal to the task.
Alex Reid, Ronnie Henry, Arthur Iontton, Terence Vancooten, Andronicos Georgiou, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Luke Wilkinson came on as a raft of substitions lowered the pace of the match until Gray slotted home from close range following defensive hesitation from the backline and Farman.
However, given the hard work and excellent performances Maamria’s men have put in throughout the last momth it would be churlish to criticise Boro, because with Tranmere Rovers fast approaching the Lamex should be rocking on Saturday, August 4.
Maamria and his men deserve nothing less.