Tom Pett 23, Luke Norris 60, Arthur Read 71
Carlisle United F.C
Brennan Dickenson 55
🟥 Rod McDonald 18
Stevenage smile like they mean it after win over Carlisle on international day of happiness
- Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO
Saturday was the UN's international day of happiness and Stevenage left the Lamex Stadium full of smiles after a 3-1 win over Carlisle United.
Tom Pett's superb volley had put Boro ahead five minutes after the visitors were reduced to 10 men, Rod McDonald being sent-off for a professional foul.
And while their run of six successive clean sheets was ended by a heavily-deflected effort from Brennan Dickenson, further strikes from Luke Norris and Arthur Read completed the comfortable win.
A criticism of Stevenage this season has been the lack of a killer instinct in front of goal and in truth they could have had even more. That though is being really greedy because all three goals were superbly taken.
The win keeps Boro in 15th place but they are now onto 46 points and closer to a top-half finish that seemed hugely unlikely in October.
There were three changes for Boro. Danny Newton missed out altogether after a nasty-looking injury at Southend United seven days earlier while Scott Cuthbert's bang on the head at Roots Hall relegating him to the bench.
The third one missing out was Jack Aitchison with Norris, Luke Prosser and Read the three coming in.
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The unbeaten sequence coming into the early kick-off had seen three wins and five draws with seven of them coming with a clean sheet.
The only goal conceded was against Walsall after just 14 seconds.
It took Carlisle a whole four seconds more to create the first chance of the game but Offrande Zanzala could only nod over from a handful of yards.
It did set the tone for the opening few minutes as Carlisle looked dangerous going forward but out of nowhere it was Boro who almost took the lead.
Read managed to get the ball out from his feet and his shot to the narrow side of Magnus Norman's goal beat the keeper but rebounded out off the post.
From there the match appeared to drift into stalemate until the first pivotal moment arrived with McDonald's sending off.
It was as clear as they come as the defender tugged back Elliott List as the forward raced in behind him.
And it got worse five minutes later as Carlisle were still regrouping.
A corner from the left was fired into the area where it found Pett to the left of and with his back to goal.
However, a neat flick was followed by a sumptuous turn and volley which sent the ball flying through the crowd of players and into the far corner.
List could and perhaps should have made it two but he side-footed Read's low cross wide and there was another chance at the near post that Elliot Osborne put wide mainly due to an excellent block by the defence.
Carlisle still threatened at times on the break, or when Stevenage's patient passing broke down, and there would have been words from Alex Revell during the break to make sure Boro took their chances in the second period and put the match beyond the Cumbrians reach once and for all.
That was thrown into even sharper focus when Carlisle equalised 10 minutes after the restart.
It came from what was a well-played advantage from the referee. The ball was at Dickenson's feet and at first both he and the Stevenage defence seemed to stop, expecting the whistle.
But after realising he could move forward he did just that. The shot did take a wicked deflection that the dubious goal panel may still record as an own goal, but the fact remained that Jamie Cumming's long-run with out conceding was over.
But Stevenage responded with perfection and were back in front on the hour.
From the minute it left the foot of Norris out on the right-hand side of the area, it was always gently bending in with Norman in goal never getting close to it.
There was fortune here too as Pett's shot rebounded perfectly to the striker but the finish was again excellent.
Norman needed to make two save low down to his right as first List and then Norris found space down the Carlisle right but it was from the other flank that Stevenage started to wrap things up.
Osborne played it forward and it was Read who got on the end of it, slipping it between the legs of the keeper.
There was a small spot of sympathy for the Carlisle defence as the original pass was meant for List who was offside. He quickly stopped running though, and so too momentarily did the defence. Crucially Read didn't.
There were further chances later on, notably Osborne who also played in a delightful cross that deserved a finish.
Chris Lines almost bagged his first goal for the club but this time the deflection took the ball wide of goal.
Three goals though was more than enough for three points and a perfect reason to make Stevenage smile.
Stevenage: Cumming, James-Wildin, Coker, Prosser, Osborne (Aitchison 86), Vancooten, List, Read, Pett, Norris, Lines.
Subs (not used): Johnson, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Hutton, Smith, Stevens.
Goals: Pett 23, Norris 60, Read 71
Carlisle United: Norman, Tanner Charters 78), Riley (Anderton 78), Guy, Zanzala, Mellish (Patrick 52), McDonald, Dickenson, Armer (Alessandra 78), Toure (Hayden 22), Bennett.
Subs (not used): Farman, Walker.
Goal: Dickenson 55
Sent-off: McDonald 18
HT: Stevenage 1 Carlisle United 0
Referee: Brett Huxtable (Great Torrington, Devon)