Greg Tansey's sublime free kick inspired Stevenage to victory in a tough encounter against Scunthorpe United.
In a first half that was sub-standard, Tansey came closest to breaking the deadlock with a powerful shot from the edge of the box but was denied by the crossbar.
After the break things picked up and Lucas Akins began to run the show from the right wing. On 74 minutes second-half substitute Anthony Grant won a free kick and Tansey showed his class, curling it beyond the ‘keeper to score what proved to be the decisive goal.
Goalkeeper Steve Arnold was given his home league debut after a great display between the stick at Notts County on Tuesday night whilst Grant was forced to start the game on the bench after picking up an injury in that fixture. David Gray was suspended after five bookings so far this season so James Dunne dropped to right back, Tansey to central midfield and a start was given to Robin Shroot.
In a poor first half it took twenty minutes until a chance was created, thankfully for the home supporters it was Boro who had it but the crossbar denied what would have been a stunning opener. A Morais cross found Shroot but his header could only bounce off United captain David Mirfin and out to the edge of the box. Akins brought the ball down into the path of Tansey who beat the ‘keeper with a cultured effort but the woodwork rescued the Iron. Before the break the former Inverness man was involved in another decent opportunity but after a neat one-two with Morais his drilled ball across the six yard box was easily collected by Slocombe.
After the break there was far more attacking intent on display, in fact inside the first minute Shroot and Tansey played a nice one-two before the latter sent a through ball just too close to the ‘keeper for Haber to latch onto.
A further two minutes passed and Akins won his side a corner after putting left back Newey under pressure, enough to force an error. Haber’s header was cleared to Shroot on the edge of the box and the in-form midfielder hammered an effort from range which sent Slocombe low to his right to keep things level.
The Iron’s first chance of the game came on 54 minutes; a long ball on the left hand side found Mike Grella who looked a good foot offside but with no flag play continued. He put the ball into the box where Leon Clarke met it with his head and it looped down to Mark Duffy, the number 16 hit a volley but it cannoned into Roberts and bounced harmlessly out of play.
Akins was looking more and more troublesome on the right had side and showed that when cutting in he could also pose a threat. Time was ticking away and both sides were creating half chances and the former Tranmere Rovers man almost bagged an assist when he laid the ball out to Morais who saw a curled effort saved comfortably by Slocombe. In the middle of the park Anthony Grant replaced Risser as Smith used the first of his substitutions, before long Luke Freeman was introduced with Morais the man to make way.
There were 17 minutes remaining when Akins was again dictating the attacking play for Boro with a terrific through ball that found Grant in the middle, he looked to be through in the centre of the pitch but was pushed to ground by Ribeiro who went into the book.
Boro’s resulting free kick was around 25 yards out and central, Tansey spotted the ball and looked to recreate the two curled free kicks that he netted on the pre-season tour of Dublin. Already with a highlights reel of his own this season he bent the ball around the wall and into the top corner with real class to give Stevenage the lead.
The goal scorer almost had another when his side won a free kick in a similar position but this time Scunthorpe’s number one managed to get behind it. Minutes later another set piece came close when Haber flicked on a free kick and Charles very nearly sent it into the back of the net with a close range header.
Smith and his assistant Mark Newson had both spoken about improving home form after Boro had won just one of their opening five at the Lamex, drawing the other four, and perhaps with that in mind the nerves around the ground were worse than they’d usually be. The Iron were knocking on the door and Stevenage were giving the ball away cheaply, four minutes were added on as Bondz N’Gala came on for Shroot. A rare late attack for the home team was carved out with Freeman and Haber performing a decent one-two; the former Arsenal youngster ran through clear and with the ‘keeper coming out tried an audacious chip but it ended up in the North Terrace rather than back of the net.
The game came to a close with no further action and Boro extended their unbeaten run to eleven games for the start of the season.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1) Arnold; Dunne, Roberts, Charles, Comminges; Tansey, Risser (Grant 58); Akins, Shroot (N'Gala 89), Morais (Freeman 70); Haber
Unused Subs: Day, Ball, Rogers, Lopez
Scunthorpe (4-4-2) Slocombe; Ribeiro, Mirfin, Canavan, Newey; Ryan (Sedgwick 72), Duffy, Gibbons, Walker; Clarke, Grella
Unused Subs: Severn, Kennedy, Reid, Barcham, Jennings, Keegan
Att: 2953 (278 away)