Stevenage 3-2 Accrington Stanley: Boro show pride and passion to seal dramatic late win

PUBLISHED: 00:41 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:18 18 October 2017

Ben Kennedy dribbles the ball forward for Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo

Ben Kennedy dribbles the ball forward for Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

The writing on the cross of St George on the East Terrace of the Lamex read ‘Passion and Pride’.

Ben Kennedy looks to beat his man. Picture: Danny LooBen Kennedy looks to beat his man. Picture: Danny Loo

It was the first thing Stevenage boss Darren Sarll’s men needed to offer in their SkyBet League Two match against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday evening.

But my word they did that – and then some – on a night of excitement which made experienced football watchers smile with delight at the glorious show of character that unfolded in North Herts.

Sarll, a proud football man to his core will have been shaken by his side’s abject 7-1 surrender against rivals Luton Town on Saturday.

He spoke well, immediately after the match, holding his hands up with a brutal honesty which was not only the correct response, but the sign of an emotionally intelligent man-manager who displayed superb leadership skills through his reaction.

Joe Martin brings the ball forward. Picture: Danny LooJoe Martin brings the ball forward. Picture: Danny Loo

For there was no excuse for the rout and no hiding place – not that this tough man was looking to hide. His instinctive answer was to announce his boys and he had let the supporters down, let the club down, and tellingly, let their town down.

It was a genuine acknowledgment to the world the high standards he sets on a daily basis were not met.

Lesser men would have blamed the team, would have hidden behind excuses. Not Sarll. Nor his men, who are loyal to him and his methods.

After such a loss, it is easy to lose perspective amid the fallout of such an unacceptable collapse. But Sarll’s reaction set the tone for redemption without recrimination.

Stevenage manager Darren Sarll and Glenn Roeder leave the pitch at Luton on Saturday. Picture: Danny LooStevenage manager Darren Sarll and Glenn Roeder leave the pitch at Luton on Saturday. Picture: Danny Loo

Which is what happened during a sublime climax to a hard-fought match.

Stanley, led by the wily John Coleman, arrived with memories of their 3-0 victory at the Lamex during their most recent encounter in May – that put paid to Boro’s receding play-off hopes – still fresh in the mind.

The team started with a few robust challenges that reminded you the PA played Ph.D’s 1982 hit I Won’t Let You Down before kick off. Although they could have added Blur’s There’s No Other Way to those who raised concerns over the ferocity of the early tackles.

The home side went 1-0 behind after Liam Nolan played the ball to Jordan Clark who drilled in a low right-footed shot past Joe Fryer on 19 minutes.

Stevenage showed character to beat Accrington Stanley after Saturday's debable at Luton. Danny LooStevenage showed character to beat Accrington Stanley after Saturday's debable at Luton. Danny Loo

After battling in the rain Kyle Wooton was hooked for Danny Newton, who immediately livened things up, as Godden slotted in on the hour mark.

But drama followed as the influential Kee scored for Accrington after Jackson was fouled in the box 60 seconds later to go 2-1 up.

For Kee it was joy unconfined as Accrington celebrated his 50th goal for the club. It was also his eighth goal in his last nine away league matches.

For Boro, especially keeper Fryer who failed to stop the ball as it skidded underneath his body on a greasy surface, it was a crushing blow.

How they would respond would be a genuine insight into their character.

They didn’t disappoint.

After a period of skirmishing punctuated by a powerful run by Ben Kennedy on 73 minutes – as he let fly a low shot from distance that flew just the wrong side of Chapman’s post – the game reached a remarkable climax.

Left back Joe Martin fired in a cross which Godden nodded into the net to make it 2-2 ten minutes later.

This time it was Boro’s time to celebrate and deservedly so.

With two minutes remaining Boro broke and Newton fed Kennedy who drove on before instinctively firing a low shot across Chapman and into the corner of the net to make it 3-2.

The celebrations were intense and joyous, as the goal purged Saturdays rout.

Sport at its best contains a gripping narrative.

The huge reserves of character shown by Stevenage on Tuesday night meant deep joy – after despair – weren’t the only emotions experienced.

For the courage displayed by each and every player ensured there was also redemption and catharsis.

And three hard-earned points for Sarll’s braves as they proved they are a team with pride and passion.

As the players and staff lingered on the pitch after the final whistle, fans hugged each other at what they had just seen.

Appropriately, the PA blasted out Journey’s 1981 hit.

The title?

Don’t Stop Believin’.

As songs go it was hard to beat.

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