Stevenage left in a drizzle as another defeat leaves league status in jeopardy

Chris Lines scored late on for Stevenage against Northampton Town.

Chris Lines scored late on for Stevenage against Northampton Town. - Credit: DANNY LOO PHOTOGRAPHY

After two minutes of the League Two game between Stevenage and Northampton Town at the Lamex Stadium, the sprinklers came on.

It brought the expected ironic cheers from all sides of the ground but it was followed by a chorus of "you'll always be non-league" from the visiting support.

After this 2-1 loss that threat is becoming more and more likely for Boro.

The sprinklers came on early during Stevenage's game with Northampton Town.

The sprinklers came on early during Stevenage's game with Northampton Town. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

Chris Lines' late goal at least roused the support momentarily but there were times when there was an air of resignation around the ground, not just about the impending outcome of this result but of the season itself.

Manager Paul Tisdale spoke on Saturday after the loss to Newport County about the pleasing aspects of the performance.

He will do again and in truth, there were sometimes you believed in better.

But there needs to be so much more of them and the small smattering of boos at half-time were replaced by louder groans at the end.

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There were three changes for Boro. Elliott List, Charlie Carter and Chris Lines all came in with Jamie Reid, Scott Cuthbert and Zain Westbrooke all dropping out.

Westbrooke was on by the end of the first half after a nasty clash of heads had sent Luke Norris back to the dressing room, groggy and aided but at least on his feet.

It just took the sting out of what had been a more positive spell in the last 10 minutes from Boro but for the all the good approach play, usually down the right and usually involving Luke O'Neill, there wasn't any shots on target to test Liam Roberts.

List had gone closest as he suddenly sprung forward down the inside-right channel and he caught the ball well enough, but his drilled effort flew wide of goal.

Had he scored though it would have only undone a horrendous lapse of concentration in the seconds before the goal.

It was a stunning strike by Aaron McGowan, hit with power and barely getting six inches off the deck as it arrowed from the right side of the box into the far corner of Christy Pym's goal.

The move had started on the left and the ball cam to the scorer after a cross had floated over Mitch Pinnock's head.

He had started behind List but was way more switched on, jumping on the loose ball as the Stevenage man was left on his heels.

That came on 18 minutes ended a frenetic start to the game where there was plenty of action but very little quality from either side.

There wasn't much quality after the goal either although the pace was slower until Boro's late spell on the front foot.

The switch on the stroke of half-time meant a change in formation for Stevenage, Carter joining List as the front pairing.

Westbrooke's introduction  put him at the point of a midfield diamond and for a few moments in the opening stages, there seemed hope.

O'Neill even had a shot on target, lacking power and straight at the keeper, but it was a step in the right direction.

All of that was undone though by the second goal with yet another superbly-hit shot.

It came from Pinnock after Luke Prosser's clearance from a cross had come to him on the edge of the box.

And while you could perhaps quibble over the lack of closing down, this was a crisply hit effort that left Pym standing still and sometimes you have to just sit back and applaud.

But while that was heading towards the sublime category, a free-kick for Stevenage was definitely in the ridiculous end of the spectrum.

It was on the right side of the pitch and a perfect angle to bend it in for the big lads to attack.

Instead Westbrooke played it sideways, before it went backwards and then out for a throw closer to Pym's goal than Roberts's.

The howls of derision from the home fans was understandable.

There wasn't much else to please them up until Lines scored and a late strike by List more oohs and aahs as Roberts tipped it round the post.

Whether there are more cheers to come remains to be seen.

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Stevenage: Pym, James-Wildin, Prosser, List ,Taylor, Norris (Westbrooke 45+5), Carter, Lines, Vancooten, Upson (Read 57), O'Neill.

Subs (not used): Walker, Reid, Barry, Tinubu, Clements.

Goal: Lines 82

Northampton Town: Roberts, McGowan, Sowerby, Guthrie, Horsfall, Hoskins, Lewis, Lubala (Rose 73), Pinnock, Koiki (Mills 26), Appere (Zimba 62).

Subs (not used): Maxted, Harriman, Magloire, Ashley-Seal.

Goals: McGowan 18, Pinnock 50

Booked: Hoskins 68, Rose 78

HT: Stevenage 0 Northampton Town 1

Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey)

Attendance: 2,363 (568 from Northampton)