Stevenage were defeated at the Lamex Stadium despite putting in a strong performance against a Yeovil side pushing for promotion.
The effort put in wasn’t reflected in the final score line, as Graham Westley suffered a first defeat since his return to the club.
A goalless first half wasn’t chanceless, and perhaps Boro should have made more of the efforts that they had. James Dunne proved guiltiest, bursting onto a Dani Lopez pass but firing straight at Marek Stech from inside the area.
Stech was then commended for a brilliant save from Lopez himself, who saw a header that looked destined for the back of the net clawed off the line by the ‘keeper.
After the break Yeovil stole a lead, even that came from a Boro attack that failed to produce the desired outcome. The push forward for an opener cost Westley’s side, Max Ehmer was unfortunate to see a pass with the outside of the boot cut out and the home side broke well, with Sam Foley curling in a fantastic effort to break the deadlock.
James Hayter confirmed the victory for Yeovil with less than ten minutes to go after smashing his shot in from close range. Dan Burn was sent off in added time, a second yellow card for time wasting, but it was the Glovers’ afternoon.
Just two league losses since the start of 2013 had propelled Town into fourth place in the league before the game and the Somerset-based side would have been hoping for three points against a side with seemingly little to play for. Try telling that to Graham Westley though, a win and a draw since his reappointment tells half the story; a desire to finish the season a top-half-of-the-table side is clear to see and two clean sheets have helped the side en route to that target.
Akins saw an early shot saved by the Marek Stech, who was forced into a low save to his left. The former Tranmere Rovers man held the ball up well on the right and pulled it back to David Gray. The right-back found Dunne in the middle who played it back to the ever-moving Akins, he cut inside and struck it cleanly but was thwarted by the Town ‘keeper.
Paddy Madden is the league’s top scorer thus far and his threat was clear to see when Yeovil attacked. He attempted a turn-volley but failed to connect cleanly with the ball and another effort was brilliantly blocked by Roberts and bounced out for a corner; there was a constant reminder of his ability to find an opener.
James Dunne was the next to be presented with an opportunity and had he netted it would have been a fantastic assist from Lopez, but the former Exeter midfielder saw his shot saved. Lopez’s reverse pass through the defence was perfect and Dunne latched on well, but with space in the box he didn’t do enough to beat Stech.
The away stand thought their side had the lead just after the 20 minute mark; Edwards was the man to poke the ball into the back of the net but the offside flag denied him. Hayter was free in the middle and forced a quite brilliant one-handed save from Arnold, but Edwards was the first to react and knock it into the empty net. He was too keen though, and the linesman stopped his celebrations early.
As the first half battled on Boro were having more of the attacking chances and were carving them out well. Lopez must have thought he had given the home side the lead with a close-range header but Stech pulled out a miracle save. The original cross from Freeman found Akins at the back post who expertly headed it back into the centre, but Lopez’s well-placed head across goal was somehow kept out.
Bondz N’Gala was unlucky to be booked before the break, his challenge on the edge of the area was hard but certainly fair and he won the ball brilliantly. The referee didn’t see it that way but the resulting free kick was wasted by a Yeovil side who ended the first half strongly, but were unable to break the deadlock.
Stevenage conceded their first goal under Westley’s third regime ten minutes after the restart though; Foley was the man to get it with a beautiful curled effort. It all sprouted from a Boro attack, Ehmer’s misplaced pass proved costly as the Glovers broke in numbers. They switched the play well and continued to drive towards the Boro box and eventually Foley received possession, he turned onto his right foot and hit an exquisite effort across goal, which nestled into the top corner and gave Arnold no chance.
The goal almost unlocked talent of the away side who pushed on well for a second and looked dangerous, Stevenage themselves were trying to get the all-important second goal of the game but the build up was proving better than the end product.
Haber, Hoskins and Hills came on in a 15 minute period – Lopez, Morais and Grant made way – but it wasn’t to be for Boro, Yeovil doubled their advantage.
Hayter had the final touch, a powerful effort through a crowded six-yard box, off the underside of the bar and into the back of the net. It came after some resilient defending in the area which saw a couple of blocked efforts, but there was nobody to get in the way of Hayter’s strike.
It was an unfortunate way for the tie to end and Boro would look back on the performance itself as one full of determination, but one which highlighted the need for a more clinical edge in attack.
With four minutes added onto the game Burn saw a second yellow card for blatant time-wasting, but there was to be no fairytale comeback.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Arnold; Gray, N’Gala, Roberts, Ehmer; Akins, Dunne, Grant (Hills 75), Freeman; Lopez (Haber 62), Morais (Hoskins 71)
Unused Subs: Day, Mahon, Deacon, Comminges