Stevenage came from behind to take all three points with a 2-1 win over Brentford this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
Trailing to a Clayton Donaldson goal after 13 minutes, Boro struck back with two Francois Zoko goals to claim a deserved home victory.
Graham Westley made two changes from the side which beat MK Dons 2-1 in midweek, with the suspended pair of Luke Freeman and Michael Doughty being replaced by David Gray and Jordan Burrow. Jimmy Smith returned to centre-midfield whilst Lucas Akins started on the right-wing with Filipe Morais on the left.
The game started with the visitors testing Chris Day twice within the opening 60 seconds. Marcello Trotta forced Boro’s keeper into a save with a header before Alan McCormack then fired straight at him.
Minutes later Harlee Dean saw a header fly over after Clayton Donaldson had won a corner off David Gray.
Stevenage came into the game and nearly created a half chance when Lucas Akins did well down the right but his ball in wouldn’t quite fall for either Jordan Burrow or Jimmy Smith and Brentford cleared.
The visitors continued to press and won a couple of free-kicks but both were dealt with comfortably by Boro’s defence.
However, unluckily for the hosts, Brentford did take the lead in the 13th minute. Marcello Trotta threaded a neat through-ball through to Douglas who advanced on Day and clipped the ball over him for Clayton Donaldson to add the finishing touch.
Within two minutes Stevenage were level thanks to a helping hand from Brentford’s Stevenage-born ‘keeper David Button. The Bees goalie dallied on the ball for too long, allowing Zoko to nip in, rob the ball and fire home for his second goal in two games.
The Ivorian was nearly at it again minutes later, latching onto a ball forward but defenders were back and expertly prevented the striker from going close.
Led by Zoko, Boro had their tails up and were looking bright in possession, but were equally eager to get the ball back when Brentford had the ball, fighting for every ball and giving everything in front of the home faithful.
Trotta tested Day on 21 minutes with a left-footed effort and Morais then saw Button save a shot after he cut in on his right foot, before Zoko turned the game on its head with his second.
Good work by Akins saw him set up Burrow and when the young striker's shot was blocked there was Zoko to gleefully fire home again from close range.
With The Lamex rocking Stevenage forged themselves a chance for a third just on the half hour. Jimmy Smith closed down a Brentford clearance which fell kindly for Akins. He advanced on the right before cutting in on his left foot and seeing a weak shot comfortably dealt with by Button.
Brentford seemed to decide enough was enough and experienced a period of possession but they certainly weren’t allowed to enjoy it with Boro working hard and pressing their opponents all over the pitch.
Burrow perhaps should have had an penalty shortly afterwards when he was hauled down at the back post when attempting to get on the end of a Morais clipped cross, but the ref signalled a goal-kick.
At the other end Day dealt with a Forshaw free-kick with ease whilst on one of the few occasions the Bees did get past Boro’s backline, when McCormack did well down the left and fired in a cross, there was Peter Hartley with a fantastic diving header away from the lurking Donaldson.
Logan clipped the top of the bar with an effort from distance before Day saved well from Donaldson minutes later, with the covering Gray clearing just in time, as Brentford pushed for an equaliser before the break, but as the ref blew for half-time it was Boro with the 2-1 lead.
Both teams traded early corners at the start of the second half with Brentford also seeing a Douglas free-kick fly wide and a fierce Donaldson effort turned behind by Day.
James Dunne came on for the hardworking Burrow within 10 minutes of the restart as Graham Westley opted for reinforcements in midfield
McCormack blasted high and wide after good work by Trotta whilst Zoko had a chance for his hat-trick with 20 minutes remaining when he met a Gray cross from the right, but his header flashed wide of Button’s right-hand post.
With time ticking away both sides exchanged glorious opportunities to hit the back of the net in the closing quarter of an hour. Firstly Donaldson burst through and rounded Day but the angle was tight and his effort hit the side-netting. Then at the other end Dunne robbed the ball in midfield and fed Smith who, with the opportunity to shoot himself, teed up Zoko whose effort was deflected behind by Deen.
Stevenage expertly saw off the remaining 10 minutes, plus four minutes of injury time, thanks to a combination of neat attacking play, much of it through substitutes Andrade and Tounkara, and some outstanding defending, led by the impressive Luke Jones.
So it’s three points and up to 19th in the table for Boro. The players will now have their feet firmly on the ground in the week ahead as they concentrate on getting a similar result next weekend at Walsall.
Boro: Day, Gray, Jones, Ashton, Hartley, Akins (Tounkara 65), Smith, Heslop, Morais (Andrade 77), Burrow (Dunne 54), Zoko
Subs not used: Arnold, Wedgbury, Cowan, Tansey
Brentford: Button, Logan (Saville 84), Taylor (Craig 50), Dean, Bidwell, McCormack, Douglas, Diagouraga, Forshaw, Trotta (Norris 70), Donaldson
Subs not used: Lee, Fillo, Nugent, El Alagui
Ref: Chris Sarginson