Stevenage continued their recent run of good form with a convincing 3-0 home win against Mansfield Town this afternoon.
Boro took a commanding 2-0 lead inside just four minutes, thanks to early goals from Chris Whelpdale and Charlie Lee and despite Mansfield pressure they confirmed all three points through a late second for Whelpdale.
Graham Westley made four changes from the side that picked up a point at Oxford with Jon Ashton, Andy Bond and Tom Pett returning, along with Dean Parrett who made a welcome return to the starting XI after long term injury. Former Boro midfielder Simon Heslop was named in the Mansfield team.
After not much in the way of goalmouth action at Oxford last weekend this game burst into action in the opening few minutes. Mansfield threatened first from a corner within 60 seconds but it was Boro who struck first with just two minutes on the clock. A lovely flowing move saw Pett find Whelpdale with a beautiful through-ball and although the winger saw his first effort saved, he regained the ball and smashed home to give the hosts the perfect start.
The terraces were bouncing in celebration and within two minutes they were at it again when Boro doubled their lead. The goal was almost a carbon-copy of the first too, with Pett releasing Whelpdale in space before the winger crossed for Charlie Lee to eventually tuck home. 2-0 and just four minutes had gone.
The returning Andy Bond, sitting in front of the Boro backline, cleared a Stags shot from close-range and Lee saw a header gathered by the already twice-beaten Evtimov as the two teams traded chances, before Mansfield began to enjoy the best of the rest of the half.
On 21 minutes a long ball towards Rhead evaded both Ashton and Wells, allowing the burly centre-forward to advance on goal. Fortunately for Boro his header lacked height and Day was able to gather above his head.
Bingham was next to test Boro’s number 16, forcing the ‘keeper into a low save from the edge of the box before crashing a shot against the post moments later, with Day again well placed to gather Rhead’s first-time follow-up.
Pett saw an effort deflect wide and Lee fired a rocket into the away end as Boro sought a third with only a Rhead header causing trouble for concern during four minutes of added time.
Mansfield made a double sub at the break but it was Stevenage who continued to push, with Lee dancing his way into the box within a minute of the restart, before seeing his cross eventually cleared after pinball in the visitors’ box.
Palmer saw a tame shot bobble into Day’s arms and Murray fired wide from the edge of the box as the Stags mounted a brief comeback but Ashton and the superb Wells were there to clear everything that was thrown at them in the air.
However soon it was Boro back on the front foot with Whelpdale floating a shot over and Beardsley seeing a close-range effort blocked by Evtimov after the front man, who worked tirelessly all game, did superbly to win the ball off Riley on the touchline and head towards goal.
With 15 minutes remaining Connor Calcutt replaced the tiring Chris Beardsley and almost immediately he was nearly presented with a goal scoring opportunity, but Whelpdale’s cross just evaded him. Moments later he met a Lee header across goal but somehow guided his own header over the bar when it looked easier to score.
However the killer third goal for Stevenage finally came with seven minutes remaining. Fellow substitute Roarie Deacon, who had looked extremely bright in his short time on the pitch led Boro on the counter, played the ball around his defender and outpaced him before laying the perfect cross for Whelpdale to fire home his second and fourth of the campaign. Game over.
A second successive home win and a third clean sheet in four games lifts Boro up to 13th place as Graham Westley’s men continue to improve, with their passing game and creativity a key part of today's success. Next up it’s Luton Town at The Lamex Stadium in a week’s time in a big local derby. With the Hatters themselves in good form it’s set to be an entertaining game and ticket news can be found here.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Wells, Charles, Bond, Parrett (Conlon 46), Lee, Whelpdale, Pett (Deacon 64), Beardsley (Calcutt 75)
Subs not used: Reading, Dembele, Zola, Johnson
Mansfield Town: Evtimov, Sutton (McGuire 46), Riley, Tafazolli, Marsden, Heslop, Lambe (Palmer 46), Murray, Beevers, Rhead (Fisher 59), Bingham
Subs not used: Studer, Dempster, Thomas, Taylor
Referee: Patrick Miller
Attendance: 2,820 (292 away)