Stevenage lost the opportunity to climb the league table after a late Roarie Deacon goal condemned them to a 2-1 defeat at Crawley Town this afternoon.
After an end-to-end, yet goalless first half, Gwion Edwards broke the deadlock with a low effort inside the box on 68 minutes. Boro looked to have rescued a point late on when Michael Tonge converted an 86th minute penalty, after a foul on sub Charlie Lee. However former Stevenage winger Roarie Deacon, also on as a late sub, struck late from a Simon Walton free-kick to send the home faithful home happy and end Boro's recent unbeaten league run. Initially Teddy Sheringham named an unchanged starting XI from last weekend’s draw against Accrington, however with Jerome Okimo injuring himself in the warm-up a start went instead to Ryan Johnson.
The opening 10 minutes saw plenty of endeavour by both sides and the creation of a few half-chances but nothing more. It would set the tone for a first half which lacked much in the way of clear goal-scoring opportunities.
Shamir Fenelon tried to latch onto a long ball behind the Boro defence with just a minute on the clock, but there was Day to gather. And then moments later at the other end Stevenage won their first corner of the game but referee Bull spotted an infringement and handed the hosts a free-kick.
Fenelon twisted and turned on the edge of the box and saw a low shot deflect kindly for Day on 11 minutes, with big Matt Harrold nodding wide just past the quarter-hour as the hosts began to mount up the pressure.
With 20 minutes gone the visitors were dealt a blow when Chris Whelpdale limped off with what looked a reoccurrence of his groin injury, to be replaced to Rohdell Gordon. However good pressure from Stevenage lead to two corners straight afterwards and although Crawley cleared, Boro were soon back in possession and making attacking probes of their own. Enjoying his midfield battle, Michael Tonge was getting forward as much as possible too and one beauty of a diagonal ball into the box could have set up a chance for McFadzean, but the winger was tackled and Boro had a corner, from which McCombe headed over.
The game continued from end to end with Walton blazing over and Hancox firing wide for the hosts, and Tonge firing inches wide with the aid of a deflection for Boro, after good work down the left by Pett.
Simon Walton also had a chance to score before the break when Crawley were handed a free-kick just outside the box but the midfielder saw the Boro wall stand firm, with Young also seeing his follow-up shot blocked.
After a goalless first half it was Stevenage who came out on the attack at the start of the second, but just couldn’t find that breakthrough. A great cross by Gnanduillet just two minutes in was scrambled clear with Pett lurking and then on 51 minutes the former Wealdstone man came closest to opening the scoring. A ball forward from McCombe and a flick from Gnanduillet released the midfielder but his first time shot was beaten away by Edwards.
Boro had their tails up and Gordon was the next to go close, cutting in from the right and firing in a shot which deflected inches wide.
Crawley were also lacking that cutting edge up top with Fenelon firing weakly at Day on 58 minutes and then Hancox smashing wide when it looked easier to finish off a swift Reds counter a minute later.
The game continued with both sides pushing forward but it was the hosts who broke the deadlock on 68 minutes. Stevenage failed to clear a long throw from the right and when it fell to Gwion Edwards, he took a touch before burying the ball into the back of the net.
Charlie Lee came on for McFadzean with 13 minutes remaining but it looked more likely that the hosts would double their advantage as they went close through Bradley and sub Lee Barnard. However with five minutes remaining Stevenage were handed a golden opportunity to draw things level from the spot. Lee latched onto a flick forward from Gordon and charged into the box, only to be wrestled to the ground by Yorweth. The referee awarded the penalty, showed Yorweth only a yellow card and Michael Tonge buried his penalty to equalise. Buoyed by that equaliser Stevenage pushed forward, but instead they were dealt a sucker punch when former winger Roarie Deacon scored an 88th minute winner. From a free-kick on the Crawley left, poorly conceded by Ronnie Henry, Walton’s delivery was nodded back across goal and there was Deacon to stab home. Defeat ends Stevenage’s recent unbeaten run but Boro will be looking to seek redemption immediately when Dagenham & Redbridge visit The Lamex Stadium this Monday. Tickets can be bought at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Crawley: Preston, Walton, Bradley, Edwards, Smith, Young, Fenelon (Barnard 62), Ashton, Harrold (Deacon 85), Hancox, Yorwerth
Subs not used: Rooney, Bawling, Tomlin, Jenkins, Emmanuel
Stevenage: Day, Henry, McCombe, Hughes, Johnson, Cox, Tonge, Whelpdale (Gordon 20), Pett, McFadzean (Lee 77), Gnanduillet (Matt 64)
Subs not used: Franks, Crowe, Conlon, Gorman
Referee: Michael Bull
Attendance: 2,289 (239 away)