Charlie Carter 22
Cambridge United F.C
Charlie Carter gets Stevenage three valuable points against Cambridge
- Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY/TGS PHOTO
A solitary goal was enough to bring Stevenage all three points in a 1-0 at home to Cambridge United.
Even after 19 games of the season, Boro are already in the situation where every point is vital.
And while the first-half showing didn't bring much in the way of quality, it did bring the vital and only goal of the game from Charlie Carter.
The second half was better, full of effort, closing down and more importantly chances which will be desirable and essential traits in the months to come.
There were no further goals but then there was no real panic either, bar one sensational block by Terence Vancooten.
And after a big point away to Cheltenham Town on Boxing Day, there is suddenly the smallest hint of hope at the Lamex Stadium.
The lack of fans and atmosphere has made most games this season feel like a training ground exercise and the first-half was a prime example of that assertion.
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Other than Carter's goal quality was in very short supply. Both sides seemed to be playing at less than 100 per cent at times and off-target passes and poor ball control meant turnovers were regular.
Other than fishing the ball out of the net Callum Burton in the visitors' goal wasn't tested.
His opposite number, Jamie Cumming, had one viciously swerving effort from Adam May to deal with but other than that he too would have been feeling his extremities on a rapidly-cooling night.
Carter's goal though did at least bring some joy to Boro. Danny Newton was the architect, twisting and turning in the box before getting a shot away that was blocked by a sliding Cambridge defender.
And the shouts that it had struck his hand were quickly forgotten as the ball bounced perfectly for the number seven to rifle across goal and into the top corner.
There were chances early in the second half though as both sides showed a bit more about them going forward.
Arthur Read fired over from a short corner and Newton forced Burton into a stop. At the other end Joe Ironside lobbed the ball towards goal but over the top.
Boro were actually enjoying a good spell in the opening stages of the half and looked the more likely to add to the score, but there was always the nagging doubt in the back of your mind which said if they didn't score, they would soon start to retreat backwards and defend what they had.
They were fortunate that they had Scott Cuthbert in imperious form, winning everything in the air and most of the stuff on the ground too, and while the pressure did come on them, it wasn't until the last five minutes.
And it was pressure that didn't see Cumming a save. He was indebted to Vancooten though for flinging himself in front of a shot in the third of four added minutes, the defender diverting the effort over the top.
It was as vital as the goal itself and it lifted Boro off the foot of the table, at least for a few hours.
Stevenage: Cumming, Coker (James-Wildin 79), Cuthbert, Carter, Newton, Hutton, Vancooten, Read, Smith, Pett, Aitchison (Oteh 73).
Subs (not used): Johnson, Vincelot, Prosser, Marsh, List.
Goal: Carter 22
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Iredale (Davies 63), Digby, Taylor, Darling, Hannant, Mullin, Dunk, May (El-Mizouni 78), Ironside (Knibbs 63).
Subs (not used): Mitov, Cundy, Worman, Neal
Booked: May 48, Darling 62
HT: Stevenage 1 Cambridge United 0
Referee: Thomas Bramall (Rotherham)