Stunning game for the neutral but Stevenage held in six-goal thriller by Crawley

Luke Norris of Stevenage FC

Luke Norris put Stevenage ahead from the penalty spot against Crawley Town. - Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY/TGS PHOTO

A six-goal thriller was a great way to bring the curtain down on League Two football at the Lamex Stadium this season but Stevenage will be hugely frustrated not to claim all three points against Crawley Town.  

For two sides with supposedly nothing to play for, neither held back and went after this from the off.

But the annoyance for those in white and red was they led three times, Luke Norris with two and Arthur Read with one, but three times they were pegged back.

All three equalisers came within minutes of Boro going ahead and with two coming from corners, manager Alex Revell will be looking for one final improvement in next week's final game.

Action from an enthralling game between Stevenage and Crawley Town in League Two

Action from an enthralling game between Stevenage and Crawley Town in League Two. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

Boro made one change from the side that won at Cambridge United last week. Elliot Osborne, the match-winner in the 1-0 win at the Broadhall Stadium in February replaced Chris Lines.

And while that game on a cold Tuesday night was a tough battle with little chances, the first-half here was arguably the most entertaining 45 minutes of football seen at the Lamex this season.

There were a number of chances at both ends before we saw the first goal.

Elliott List got through inside two minutes but the ball wouldn't sit down, allowing Jordan Tunnicliffe to get the block in.

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Norris then slid a ball into Jack Aitchison and was screaming for the return pass. The Scot opted to shot though and it was straight at Glenn Morris.

Crawley had their chances though and Joe McNerney was inches away from flicking a Jordan Maguire-Drew cross into the far corner, the ball drifting just wide of the far post.

But Stevenage were pressing hard and were forcing Crawley into mistakes. Norris almost scored when he brought a long ball from Terence Vancooten down superbly.

That deflected off the backside of the defender and went behind but he was on the score-sheet moments later.

Visiting media from Crawley were in doubt as to the validity of the penalty but when a big lad like Tunnicliffe bundles into the back of a smaller player like List, the outcome is clear.

Norris wasted little time in emphatically thumping the ball into the corner from 18 yards.

The lead didn't last long  though, four minutes in fact, and it was a lovely finish from the Sussex team, straight from the training ground.

A corner on the right was played low to the edge of the area where Francomb was running in from deep and he calmly and cleverly side-footed it through the crowd and in off Jamie Cumming's left-hand post.

The remainder of the half was played at breakneck speed but didn't bring many chances, List pulling one wide aside.

Patience was perhaps needed in certain situations but both teams would have been confident of claiming victory as they returned from the half-time break.

The second period though never lived up to the action of the first. Chances were limited although Cumming had to do well to come out and save bravely at the feet of Ashley Nadesan.

Shots were so few and far between, it seemed as if predictions of there would be definitely be more goals would go unfulfilled.

That was wrong.

With 18 minutes to go  Norris produced a wonderfully composed finish to put Stevenage ahead. The ball was played long over the top of the defence and the striker raced in on goal.

He looked around, evaluated the danger, and then calmly lifted it over the onrushing keeper.

But yet again the lead was short-lived, Nadesan's stooping header five minutes later rolling agonisingly across goal and into the far corner.

But this time parity was short-lived too.

List broke down the right and pulled it back to Read. A couple of touches brought him inside and he curled the ball, with the aid of a knick off someone, into the far corner and beyond the diving Morris.

There was still time for Norris to be denied his hat-trick by a good save and the soon-to-be-retired Romain Vincelot to play out the final minutes.

He wouldn't end on the winning side though as Boro conceded two minutes into stoppage time.

It was from a corner again, played short to Powell and he unleashed a howitzer of a shot that flew into the top corner.

A great goal to end a great game but Stevenage will wonder how they didn't get all three points. 

Stevenage: Cumming, James-Wildin, Coker, Prosser (Cuthbert 66), Osborne, (Read 57), Vancooten, List (Stevens 86), Smith, Pett, Aitchison (Vincelot 86), Norris.

Subs (not used): Johnson, Martin, Williams.

Goals: Norris (pen) 20, 74, Read 82

Booked: Prosser 53

Crawley Town: Morris, Francomb, McNerney (Rodari 88), Powell, Nadesan, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Tsaroulla (Frost 70), Maguire-Drew (Davies 70), Hessenthaler, Wright. 

Subs (not used): Allarakhia, Sesay, Nelson.

Goals: Francomb 24, Nadeson 79, Powell 90+2

Booked: Yerns (manager) 74, McNerney 77

HT: Stevenage 1 Crawley Town 1

Referee: Declan Bourne (Notts)