Stevenage ready to put all their fight into relegation battle says Steve Evans

Luke Norris of Stevenage heads wide against Oldham Athletic in League Two

Luke Norris of Stevenage heads wide against Oldham Athletic in League Two - Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY

Stevenage found themselves in a whole heap of trouble after a defeat to Oldham Athletic put them in the middle of a relegation nightmare.

A lone first-half goal from Jamie Hopcutt gave the Latics a vital 1-0- win over their biggest rivals, one which which leaves Boro three points adrift of safety.

But while the result was disappointing, the performance has given new manager Steve Evans a big boost in confidence.

He said: "We were outstanding as far as today and the boys gave it everything in terms of effort and energy.

“They scored with their only effort on goal, but we cant be missing the chances we created because it sets us on the back foot. We missed six or seven chances so it's hard to take when they’ve only had the one.

"But that's football and you either win or lose. I think you look at the quality of performance and when you perform like that you usually win games. I was the first to say that against Exeter we worked hard but we didn't play.

"We played some great football and opened them up time after time, but you need to be clinically and we were the opposite of that today.

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“We have to win some games or we'll be down, simple as that. We have to keep focused ourselves, we can't affect anything Oldham or Barrow do now, but what we can affect is the result at Colchester next week and we’ll start with that.

“We're back on the training ground, working hard and hope next week they have the composure to stick it our way.

“It will be hard to take when we look at the table today and tomorrow, but we have to go again.

“I think the fans that we’re here today saw a great performance and they were thinking how have we not scored more than one. The atmosphere was great today and credit to the fans.

“We’ve got seven cup finals left. We’re in a battle, I've got the troops and we'll get ready to go to Colchester."

The Boro boss made four chances from the defeat to Exeter with Luther James-Wildin and a new look midfield of Michael Bostwick, Chris Lines and Arthur Read all returning to the line-up.

And with a packed out Lamex Stadium, the hosts started off at a fast pace, looking to swing crosses in early.

The first big chance of the game came 12 minutes in when Boro broke on a counter attack. Elliott List made a perfectly timed run getting behind Oldham’s defence from a Arthur Read pass but sent his shot straight at the keeper.

But soon after Oldham grabbed the opener when Jordan Clarke was given space on the right. A swinging cross to Hopcutt who was lurking on the back post, gave him an open header as the away side took the lead.

Despite conceding early on Stevenage looked to be the more threatening side as they dominated the possession of play.

Jake Taylor had two great opportunities to get an equaliser, when he got himself through Oldham’s backline but sliced his shot wide. Then a poor punch from Danny Rogers off a corner fell to Taylor six yards out but he volleyed high.

Luke Norris continued his brilliant hold up play as he threaded a ball out wide to James-Wildin. The passage of play continued, cutting the ball back to List inside the box but another Stevenage shot was sent wide. 

Frustrations continued to grow when just before the close of the half, Taylor squared a ball back to Read but he scuffed his chance and missed the ball.

The second half opened with a flurry of Oldham chances, but Stevenage stood firm and defended well and after a lovely back heel from Read on the hour, the ball found itself on the edge of the box and setting up Bostwick.

He too though put his effort wide of the post. 

With time running out, Evans changed to a 4-2-4 formation as Boro attacked in numbers, throwing everything at the Latics.

They got one last chance in injury time. Norris got on the end of a cross but found his attempt blocked off the line.

Another strike was immediately cleared off the line again and a final volley from Norris was sent over, leaving all fans in attendance with their hands on their head.


League Two (bottom two go down)

Pos

Team

Pld

W

D

L

F

A

Diff

Pts

21

Barrow

39

8

13

18

34

47

-13

37

22

Oldham Athletic

40

9

10

21

40

61

-21

37

23

Stevenage

39

7

13

19

34

61

-27

34

24

Scunthorpe United

40

4

12

24

26

72

-46

24