Stevenage 2-1 Crawley Town: Ball brace and super defensive display earn Boro three points

PUBLISHED: 17:02 12 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:05 12 January 2019

James Ball of Stevenage celebrates his first goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

James Ball of Stevenage celebrates his first goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Archant

A brace from James Ball helped Stevenage FC pick up a vital three points as they beat Crawley Town 2-1 at the Lamex Stadium in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday afternoon.

Danny Newton of Stevenage shoots towards goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOODanny Newton of Stevenage shoots towards goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

Substitute Ball gave the home side the lead with 25 minute header before Dominic Poleon equalised with 37 minutes played with a low finish.

Stevenage went into half-time ahead though as Ball got his second from close range after a flowing counter-attack.

Boro boss Dino Maamria made two changes to the team that lost to Cambridge United a week ago, with John Hunt and new signing Moses Makasi – making his debut after joining on-loan from West Ham United – coming into the starting XI.

There were two familiar faces on the Crawley bench as former Stevenage players Filipe Morais and Dannie Bulman returned to The Lamex Stadium.

Moses Makasi of Stevenage on the ball in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOMoses Makasi of Stevenage on the ball in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

The home side had the opening chance of the game when Alex Revell was picked out on the penalty spot, but he fired over when he should have done better.

In trying to take that chance, the striker was caught late by a Crawley defender and he couldn’t continue, being replaced by Ball.

Crawley then had their first chance with 15 minutes gone, as Dominic Poleon fired inches wide of the post after a short free-kick on the right-hand side.

The striker then had another good chance, this time blazing over from six yards out after a good run from Ollie Palmer.

James Ball of Stevenage celebrates his second goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOJames Ball of Stevenage celebrates his second goal in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

With 25 minutes on the clock Stevenage took the lead. Boro did well to get the ball to the byline on the right-hand side and a cross was clipped into the box for substitute Ball, who rose high to head past Glenn Morris, who could have done better to keep it out.

The visitors then had a glorious chance to level the game up just five minutes later, but somehow both Palmer and Panutche Camara failed convert from no more than six yards out in a frantic goalmouth scramble.

Palmer made up for his missed chance with eight minutes till half-time, when he fired a low cross into strike partner Poleon, who controlled well and drove a low shot beyond Farman to make it 1-1.

It was level for all of three minutes though, Stevenage fought back immediately though and regained the lead with 40 minutes gone.

Joel Byrom of Stevenage makes a sliding challenge on Panutche Camará of Crawley Town in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOOJoel Byrom of Stevenage makes a sliding challenge on Panutche Camará of Crawley Town in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

New boy Makasi picked up the ball on the edge of his own box and strode forward with purpose. His pass found Newton in the area, with his low effort parried by Morris right into the path of Ball who tapped home for his second of the afternoon.

That’s how it stayed going into the break after an entertaining first 45 minutes.

The entertainment continued when another goalmouth scramble at the Stevenage end somehow stayed out with almost an hour gone, as a Farman save, a goal line clearance and the crossbar saved the home side.

Farman then pulled off more heroics, tipping away a dangerous cross and make a point-blank save to maintain Boro’s lead.

Dominic Poleon of Crawley Town sees his shot saved in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOODominic Poleon of Crawley Town sees his shot saved in the League Two game between Stevenage FC v Crawley Town at the Lamex Stadium, Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Picture: DANNY LOO

The home side rarely broke forward in the second-half, defending for their lives as Crawley pushed for an equaliser.

Without ‘keeper Farman, Maamria’s side may well have walked away from the game with nothing, as he made his best save of the afternoon with five minutes to go.

Stevenage-born Lewis Young – making his 200th Crawley appearance – was played through, but the Boro stopper made himself big and got an important foot to the ball to divert it behind.

The home side, despite repeated pressure, held on though putting in a superb defensive display to pick up a well earned three points.

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