Stevenage 0-3 Notts County: Boro fall to disappointing defeat
PUBLISHED: 16:54 30 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:54 30 March 2019
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Stevenage hosted Notts County at Broadhall Way on Saturday. Read on for Layth Yousif's match report.
Relegation-threatened Notts County beat Stevenage 3-0 at Broadhall Way on Saturday in front of 2,860 fans.
First half goals by Jim O’Brien, Kane Hemmings and Enzio Boldewijn sealed a rare away win for the visitors against a disappointing Stevenage side.
The tone was set for the afternoon when an early goal with only 60 seconds on the clock from former Celtic academy star O’Brien put the Magpies ahead on a balmy early spring day in North Herts.
The 31-year-old midfielder journeyman, who signed for County in January on the same day he was released by Bradford City, fired home from 25 yards giving Boro keeper Paul Farman no chance.
Maamria’s men started the day in 13th place after having picked up only one win in their previous five matches and soon fell further behind when former Rangers striker Hemmings squeezed the ball past Farman after a ball over the top from O’Brien on 21 minutes to make it 2-0.
Boro’s Tunisian boss reacted immediately by hauling off the underperforming West Ham U23 loanee Moses Makasi to be replaced by Emmauel Sonupe.
A threadbare Boro squad, leavened by only loan signings, have battled gamely through the winter - but last week’s 2-2 draw at Macclesfield, in which an injury time leveller by The Silkmen’s Danny Whittaker broke Stevenage hearts, looked to have ended their hopes of a late tilt at the play-offs.
Despite a vociferous travelling contingent from Nottinghamshire, on the pitch, the match certainly had the feel of an end-of-season game, with long spells of scrappy play punctuated by flashes of underwhelming attacking action that invariably led to nothing.
Yet the visitors extended their lead on the stroke of half-time after Boldewijn after showed good technique to take a touch before slotting past Farman.
The score was as much a shock to County fans as it was to Boro supporters given the Magpies poor form this term as they started the day in 23rd place, mired in the relegation places after only eight wins all season.
Up until Saturday at the Lamex.
Yet, as the team’s went in at the break with County 3-0 up, the most impressive moment of the afternoon by far was the beautifully observed minute’s silence for former Boro player, the tragic Michael Thalassitis, who sadly passed away earlier this month.
Credit had to be paid to the club for their moving tribute to a troubled young man, and as the first half drew to an end, the haunting silence during the remembrance prior to kick-off was the standout moment for many a seasoned observer.
During the break a more positive form of recognition took place on the pitch when club stalwart Ronnie Henry was presented with a framed print of the programme cover of himself that the club’s programme team put together.
It was a nice touch by Stevenage to mark a milestone that may never be equalled.
What needed to be equalled was the three goals County led by as the second half started in bright spring sunshine.
Midway through the second half - with plenty of endeavour but little end product on show from both sides - Maamria replaced the tiring Danny Newton for Kurtis Guthrie.
The admirable Joel Byrom was then swapped for Michael Timlin with 20 minutes to go as any hopes of a comeback stalled on the altar of effort without penetration.
As the clock ran down County fans enjoyed their rare moment of triumph.
As for Maamria, he needs to sit down with the powers-that-be at the club and demand a transfer budget in the summer that will allow this talented boss to add to a squad that, while, having undoubted talent, is simply too small to launch a promotion push as things stand.
Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that this club, who it must be said raked in more than £1.5m in transfer fees over the last 12 months - even if not a single penny of that has been channelled to the playing budget - can regroup and kick on next season.
Otherwise there will be far more games like this one.
Follow Layth on Twitter @laythy29