Stevenage lost to the odd goal in five in a topsy-turvy game against York this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
Two goals down and a man down after just half an hour Boro looked dead and buried, but they rallied after the break and drew level in superb style through goals from Chris Whelpdale and a Tom Pett half-volley. However a Wes Fletcher penalty with 15 minutes remaining, his second goal of the game, secured all three points for the Minstermen.
Prior to this game York had secured draws from each of their five league games this season, but they got off to the perfect start here as they took the lead after just two minutes. Darius Charles was cautioned for a tackle on the edge of the Boro box and up-stepped Michael Coulson to somehow curl a low free-kick around the wall and into the back of the net.
A goal down Boro woke up and nearly got an immediate equaliser when a neat flick by Lee released Whelpdale. The winger advanced into the area and cut the ball back to Lancaster, who mistimed his effort which flew up rather than at goal, with the linesman’s flag then ruling Lee offside.
Lee headed over as Boro mounted another attack but from another foray forward they were hit on the counter on 14th minutes when York doubled their lead. Simon Walton was robbed in midfield and the visitors poured forward, working the ball out neatly to Wes Fletcher who calmly fired into the bottom corner.
Two goals to the good York were comfortable, but Boro were still trying to make things happen in their own final third. As the half progressed Cameron Lancaster flashed a fierce effort across goal and a Walton through-ball agonizingly just evaded Lee.
However if 2-0 down was a hill to climb, it quickly became a mountain when Boro were reduced to 10 men on the half hour. A poor clearance from Beasant bounced off Bond and in trying to win back possession the midfielder went through Coulson, with referee Collins showing the skipper for the day a straight red. Disaster.
To their credit Graham Westley’s men continued to push forward despite the man disadvantage. Walton saw a shot deflect behind approaching half-time and Boro went on to win a series of corner. From the last of those Ashton met Walton’s low delivery but his first time effort was straight down Ingham’s throat.
Bira Dembele came on after the half-time break for Okimo, with Darius Charles moving to left-back in a reshuffle in Boro’s backline.
Stevenage were much brighter right from the off with Pett, Lee and Lancaster all looking threatening, however there was always the danger that they could be hit on the counter once more. Fortunately both Ronnie Henry and Dembele showed great athleticism to deny through-balls finding their way behind the home defence.
Approaching the hour and Boro’s attacking momentum paid off as they halved the deficit. Anthony Straker was penalised for a foul on Whelpdale on the corner of the box and from the resulting set piece Lee headed Walton’s ball on for the lurking Whelpdale to divert past Ingham. Game on.
Buoyed by that goal and spurred on by the noisy home fans, Stevenage continued to attack and within five minutes were level in spectacular style. A long throw from Whelpdale from the right was missed by McCoy and found Pett on the edge of the area. Showing great technique the youngster hit the perfect half-volley away from the ‘keeper and into the back of the net. Cue ecstatic celebrations galore around three sides of the ground.
Lee curled an effort over and Walton fizzed a low shot past the far post as Stevenage looked to hit a shell-shocked York for a third time. However it was the visitors who heartbrokenly clinched what would prove to be the winning third goal from the spot with 16 minutes remaining. Pett was penalised for a foul in the box on McCoy and up-stepped Fletcher to send Beasant the wrong way.
Down but not out, the hosts continued to push for another equaliser and anyone turning up (very) late wouldn’t have guessed that Boro were the men down to 10 men. Ingham kept a Walton free-kick out, gathered a dangerous Pett cross from another free-kick and was then in the right place to gather a deflected shot from sub Adam Marriott as the York goal lived a charmed life.
Stevenage, couldn’t find that equaliser leaving Nigel Worthington’s men to take all three points back up north. However after a much improved second half performance Graham Westley will no doubt rally his troops ahead of the visit of Shrewsbury Town to The Lamex next weekend.
Stevenage: Beasant, Henry, Ashton (Zola 83), Charles, Okimo (Dembele 46), Whelpdale, Walton, Bond, Pett, Lee, Lancaster (Marriott 60)
Subs not used: Day, Calcutt, Deacon
York: Ingham, McCoy, McCombe, Lowe, Ilesanmi, Meikle (Jarvis 88), Summerfield, Penn, Straker (Hyde 71), Fletcher, Coulson
Subs not used: Mooney, Parslow, Montrose, Winfield, Hirst
Attendance: 3,090 (443 away)