Alex Gilbey 48
Newport County A.F.C
Football returns with tribute to Queen Elizabeth and another Stevenage success
- Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO
Football returned after the blanket postponement in respect to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - and Stevenage responded with a 1-0 victory over Newport County.
Both teams and the supporters inside the Lamex held a minute's silence before kick-off, followed by the singing of the national anthem.
This was football coming together as a community and in a reverential tribute.
The match though, played under a constant drizzle, had the high-flying home side on the front foot for the most part.
They only had Alex Gilbey's second-half strike to show for it although that was all that was needed to keep Boro in the top three.
Steve Evans went with three changes from the side that had moved second with victory at Crewe Alexandra last time out.
Max Clark, Jordan Roberts and Kane Smith came in with Luther James-Wildin, Jake Taylor and Saxon Earley dropping to the bench.
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Danny Rose was back on the bench after his injury troubles.
And Boro showed no ill-effects from the absence of matches, probably hungrier than usual.
They passed it well, they probed and got into some good positions but for all the exciting looking football, they failed to get a shot on goal throughout the 45.
That was mostly due to some very well-structured and well-executed defending by the Welsh side.
That was exemplified by an excellent block by Declan Drysdale with three minutes of the half remaining, the defender sticking a boot out to divert an effort from Luke Norris wide.
There was also a low effort from Smith which was going wide but still needed a sure-footed clearance for Priestley Farquharson to prevent further danger.
Newport actually fashioned two chances for themselves, the second of them the best of the half.
Omar Bogle got in front of Jake Reeves but amazingly didn't even hit the target from about 12 yards.
James Waite had fired the other across goal and wide.
There was plenty of shouts for penalties too by the home side which angered the boss and the fans in the home stand.
But what was needed was a more clinical edge to the attacking play from the home side.
A goal three minutes after the restart was the perfect response.
You could perhaps say there was a touch of fortunate about how it came to Gilbey, a defender just edging it away from Jamie Reid, but there was nothing fortunate about the finish.
The on-loan Charlton Athletic midfielder , curled with power and precision from the edge of the area to the left of a diving Nick Townsend and into the top corner.
They could have had a second a few minutes later too.
There was a big shout for handball as a shot cannoned into a Newport man but when it ran loose, Norris thumped it towards goal only to see Townsend get down low and make the save.
And the shots kept coming.
Reid put two efforts to the right of goal while a hooked shot from Norris landed on the roof of the net.
Newport had made a couple of substitutions during the second period but their final throw of the dice came with 14 minutes to go, the final three available all sent into the fray.
It was one of Stevenage's subs though who almost finished things off in style.
Saxon Earley robbed the ball inside his own half and set off in direct pursuit of goal.
He was shown onto his left foot but his drilled effort flew across goal and wide.
The last kick of the game also struck the Newport bar but the three points were already in the bag.
Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, Clark (Earley 78), Reeves, Piergianni, Sweeney, Norris (Rose 88), Roberts (Taylor 84), Smith (James-Wildin 78), Vancooten, Gilbey, Reid.
Subs (not used): Chapman, Campbell, Read.
Goal: Gilbey 48
Booked: Norris 6, Roberts 39, Sweeney 56
Newport County: Townsend, Norman (Lindley 76), Drysdale, Clarke, Farquharson (Moriah-Welsh 59), Dolan, Bogle (Adam Lewis 76), Waite, Aaron Lewis (Zimba 76), Bennett, Evans (Nevers 69).
Subs (not used): Day, Demetriou.
HT: Stevenage 0 Newport County 0
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Attendance: 2,109 (with 117 from Newport)