Crawley Town F.C
Elliot Osborne 83
Elliot Osborne conjures up a magical winner for Stevenage at Crawley Town
- Credit: DANNY LOO/TGS PHOTO
If fans of Crawley Town and Stevenage had been allowed in to this game, some would have definitely left early - and they would have missed a dramatic last 10 minutes.
The game had been poor up until the closing stages but it suddenly came alive when Elliot Osborne cut inside from the left and curled a beauty into the far corner for what was ultimately the only goal in another important 1-0 away win for Stevenage.
But it was just the beginning of the drama as Crawley were given a penalty on 89 minutes.
But although Tom Nichols struck it firmly it was straight, and David Stockdale stood his ground to push it over.
Six added minutes followed and with it came a lot of pressure but Boro hung on to claim a second 1-0 away win in eight days to move nine points clear of relegation at the bottom of League Two.
The ending masked a scrappy game.
Halfway through the first half I was searching for the exact Brian Clough quote about too many long and high balls - "if God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there" - but too be honest even when the ball reached the floor, there was a distinct lack of quality.
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Both teams had brief moments which promised much but delivered little.
Jordan Maguire-Drew hit an early free-kick at David Stockdale who also had to field a header from Jordan Tunnicliffe.
At the other end Glenn Morris hung on to a long-range effort from Luke Norris while the best opportunity fell to Jack Roles seven minutes before half-time when he was slipped in down the right of the box.
His low shot was kicked away by the legs of the keeper who had his angles spot on.
Elsewhere there was effort but twice good runs by Elliott List ended up with a cross either hit into the first defender or sliced behind.
Chris Lines had three opportunities to deliver a telling ball from three free-kicks but like List, the execution was nowhere near what was required.
The positives during the first 45 minutes were Roles, the on-loan Tottenham forward making his first start, and Matty Stevens. Both were livewires with constant running and pressing of defenders.
It was perhaps a surprise then when it was those two who were removed from the fray after nine minutes of the second period.
The double switch did seem to be entirely tactical with midfielders Elliot Osborne and Arthur Read coming on.
That happened moments after Tom Nichols had wriggled into the Stevenage box with some silky running and quick feet. Only strong block prevented a shot on goal.
Crawley were much better after the break with Nichols starting to come into the game more and Maguire-Drew being given ample opportunities to show his prowess from set-pieces.
The fact Stevenage kept giving away silly fouls in dangerous areas was reflected by the growing list of names in the referee's notebook.
And at times it was definitely luck rather than judgement that kept the deliveries from free-kicks and corners from being converted.
In among all this though there was a break and shot by List that Morris had to shovel behind.
It eased the pressure on Boro and allowed them to get further up the pitch, just in time for the story of the game to truly start.
Stevenage: Stockdale, James-Wildin, Coker, Prosser, Vancooten, List (Martin 90+2), Pett, Stevens (Read 54), Norris, Roles (Osborne 54), Lines.
Subs (not used): Johnson, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Martin, Draper.
Goals: Osborne 83
Booked: Norris 37, Pett 47, Prosser 61, James-Wildin 69, Lines 73, Coker 90+2
Crawley Town: Morris, Francomb, Dallison, Powell, Frost (Davies 77), Nichols, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Maguire-Drew, Hessenthaler, Wright.
Subs (not used): Nelson, McNerney, Matthews, Nadesan, Tilley.
Booked: Craig 27, Nichols 61, Dallison 81
HT: Crawley Town 0 Stevenage 0
Referee: Carl Brook (Hastings)