Stevenage out of EFL Trophy after 3-0 loss at Exeter City
PUBLISHED: 21:00 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 21:00 21 January 2020
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Stevenage exited the EFL Trophy at the quarter-final stage after a 3-0 defeat away at Exeter City.
Nicky Ajose opened the scoring before Matt Jay netted a brace as the League Two promotion chasers comfortably secured their place in Saturday's semi-final draw.
Boro would have been looking to build on their 4-0 away win at Cambridge United at the weekend but both sides struggled to make chances in the early stages at a sparsely populated St James Park.
The first chance of the game fell to Charlie Lakin who ignored the overlapping full-back to fire a shot goalwards from the edge of the box but it was deflected behind and the resultant corner came to nothing.
Five minutes later and Elliot List could be excused for feeling hard done by as he produced an excellent drilled cross along the six-yard box only to see no teammate there to get on the end of it.
With 21 places separating the two sides in League Two, the difference in quality soon began to show with Exeter making the most of their chances.
Paul Farman got down well to block an effort but was powerless as Ajose was on hand to tap home unmarked in the box in the 26th minute.
Following the goal, Graham Westley opted for an early change with Joe Leesley, who had shown no signs of injury, being replaced by Ben Kennedy.
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But the Grecians doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark as Joel Randall broke down the left before finding Jay, who had time to pick his spot and fired past Farman.
The half time whistle blew at 2-0, leaving the 33 Boro fans who had made the 194-mile trip to Devon to question whether they had made the right choice.
Any hopes of a Stevenage comeback were soon dashed when Jay scored his second, and City's third, of the evening in the 48th minute.
A smart backheel flick from Ajose released the charging Jay who was free to power the shot into the bottom left corner past a helpless Farman.
With the result of the game all but confirmed, both managers rang the changes and substitute Simeon Jackson should have pulled one back in the 63rd minute.
He was picked out unmarked in the box but could not sort his feet out in time and his shot dribbled towards goalkeeper Lewis Ward.
The latter stages played out with little incident as Stevenage's EFL Trophy exit was confirmed.
Stevenage: Farman, James-Wildinn, Stokes, Digby, Parrett, Cassidy, Dabo, Nugent (Carter 61), Lakin, List (Jackson 55), Leesley (Kennedy 27).
Unused subs: Bastien, Soares, Taylor, Guthrie.
Attendance: 1,190 (including 33 Stevenage fans).