Stevenage fell to a 3-0 defeat to a clinical Rotherham United this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
A first half goal from Ben Pringle and second half strikes from Claude Davis and Michael O’Connor was enough for the Millers as Boro’s recent good form deserted them.
Team news saw Greg Tansey recalled in place of the suspended Roarie Deacon with Michael Doughty starting the game at left-back. Jon Ashton missed out through injury so there was a place on the bench for 17-year old Ryan Johnson, a highly-rated centre-back who has been in fine form for the U18s this season.
The last few games have seen Stevenage come out of the traps flying and score early but the start here was much more even.
Simon Heslop and Michael O’Connor exchanged early efforts on goal before it was the visitors who took the lead on 14 minutes.
Kieran Agard saw a shot from inside the box blocked by Chris Day but Ben Pringle was there to follow-up, smashing the ball home.
Boro looked for an immediate equaliser and Tansey saw an effort from the edge of the area fly just wide of Collin’s goal.
But it was Agard who came close to doubling the Millers’ advantage on 14 minutes with a cheeky flick from a low Pringle free-kick which Day turned over acrobatically.
There was a real competitive edge to this game with a number of feisty tackles in the opening 45 for both sides – one such tackle saw Jimmy Smith thrown up in the air but Boro’s right-back emerged unscathed.
Stevenage had Chris Day to thank for keeping the visitors at bay in the 26th minute. Michael O’Connor whipped in a free-kick with pace which Craig Morgan flicked on. It looked to be heading for the bottom corner until Day stuck out a hand and parried wide.
The visitors thought they’d doubled their lead on 37 minutes when Agard found the back of the net but it was ruled out for Frecklington being offside in the build-up.
Within 60 seconds they were at it again, O’Connor advancing and firing in a powerful effort from distance which Day was forced to palm over.
Boro’s custodian was having a busier afternoon than he’d have wanted and it got worse just before the break when he went down after being clattered by Matt Tubbs.
The keeper resumed after treatment but his game was to end at the interval.
Stevenage made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Arnold replacing the injured Day and Bruno Andrade replacing Greg Tansey.
The hosts started the half well with Freeman advancing into the box and seeing his cross well defended, with Doughty also pulling the strings in midfield.
But it was Rotherham who came closest to scoring again when an O’Connor volley from the edge of the area was palmed behind at full stretch by Arnold.
Substitute Andrade was looking lively and twice he advanced down the wing before firing in dangerous crosses, both of which were cleared by the visiting defence.
Despite their brighter start to the second period it was the Millers who doubled their lead on the hour, Claude Davis getting on the end of a free-kick before Arnold and nodding into an empty net.
Five minutes later it was 3-0 and it came from a Boro corner. Smith’s delivery was cleared at the front post and Rotherham flooded forward. O’Connor had options to his left and right but opted to shoot himself, finding the back of the net from 25 yards.
With nothing to lose Boro pushed forward in the closing stages and created a number of opportunities to grab a consolation.
Simon Heslop tested Collin’s reflexes with a drive on 74 minutes. Three minutes later Freeman cut inside his full-back and fired in an effort on goal but it was easy for Collin.
As three minutes of injury time were indicated Freeman again went on a darting run down the left and advanced into the box but pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Rotherham saw out the remaining minutes to record their first league win in six games whilst Boro will no doubt be keen to put today behind them and focus on next weekend’s game at high-flying Peterborough.
Boro: Day (Arnold 46), Smith, Jones, Hartley, Doughty, Morais (Tounkara 81), Tansey (Andrade 46), Heslop, Freeman, Zoko, Akins
Subs not used: Arnold, Wedgbury, Burrow, Parrett, Johnson
Rotherham: Collin, Brindley, Davis (Mills 84), Morgan, Skarz, Pringle, O’Connor (Milsom 77), Frecklington (Tidser 79), Agard, Tubbs, Revell,
Subs not used: Shearer, Eaves, Rowe
Referee: James Linnington