Stevenage fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Swindon Town this afternoon.
Tottenham loanee Massimo Luongo scored the only goal of the game in the first half to give the Robins all three points against a spirited Boro who just couldn’t find an equaliser in an improved second half performance.
Graham Westley named the same starting XI from Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup victory over Ipswich but made five changes on the bench with James Dunne, Jimmy Smith, Dani Lopez, new signing Peter Hartley and goalkeeper Ben Smith all coming in.
It was a relatively quiet opening 15 minutes with Swindon having more of the ball but Boro’s back four all coping with the early pressure comfortably.
The first real chance of the game on the quarter hour when a ball into the box found Andy Williams but his shot was turned around the post by Steve Arnold. Robins captain Darren Ward then saw a back-post header from a corner fly over the bar.
The hosts’ early pressured showed in the 25th minute when they took the lead in spectacular fashion – Spurs loanee Massimo Luongo found space on the right hand edge of the box and he curled a left-footed beauty around the despairing dive of Steve Arnold into the far corner.
Buoyed by their goal Swindon continued to push forward and Andy Williams blazed over two minutes later from a Nathan Thompson cross.
At the other end Boro’s first real chance fell to Oumare Tounkara who saw a shot saved by Wes Foderingham, with Jordan Burrow unable to reach the rebound before the diving ‘keeper.
The visitors continued to press forward when possible and forced a couple of corners after good work by Luke Freeman and Sam Wedgbury but neither came to anything.
Ten minutes before the break and Boro created a half chance out of nothing. A simple cross to the back post by Wedgbury somehow caught out both Swindon centre-backs and Filipe Morais found himself in space but his low cross was turned away by the home defence before it could find a Boro boot.
Not content with a single goal lead Swindon kept up the pressure and had a couple of half chances to extend their lead. Grant Hall saw his header from a Ryan Harley corner bounce comfortably into Arnold’s arms whilst Boro’s keeper was also called into action to scoop up a low effort from Luongo.
No changes were made at the start of the second half but Graham Westley did make one just three minutes later, James Dunne replacing Simon Heslop in the heart of Boro’s midfield.
Swindon forged the first chance of the second 45 when Andy Williams timed his run through the Boro defence well but Arnold was out to gather near the edge of his box.
Dani Lopez replaced Jordan Burrow on 57 minutes and was straight into the action, winning Boro a corner. It led to a good spell of possession for the visitors with Filipe Morais seeing a dangerous cross just miss Tounkara and into the ‘keepers arms.
Boro created a great chance to equalise halfway through the half. Tounkara picked up the ball and dribbled into the box under pressure from a number of defenders. He played the ball back to Freeman whose pass was blazed over by Tansey.
Good pressure from Boro forced Swindon into conceding a couple of cheap corners – one from a poor back pass and another a poor back header – but the visitors couldn’t capitalise on either freebie.
The Robins were much quieter in this half, down in no part to Boro’s newfound energy all over the pitch and with 10 minutes remaining they had a golden chance to equalise. Sub Robin Shroot picked up the ball wide right and whipped in a cross but the ball skimmed the head of a diving Lopez and went behind.
Swindon pushed forward as the half progressed but just couldn’t find that killer second, giving Boro renewed hope they could get something out of this game.
The final chance for Boro to draw level fell to Luke Freeman. A free-kick into the box was headed across by Darius Charles and the winger twisted and turned before firing into the side netting.
Five minutes of injury time came and went but Boro’s couldn’t muster an equaliser, leaving Graham Westley’s men with two defeats from their opening two games.
Onwards to next weekend when Leyton Orient are the visitors to The Lamex Stadium – see you there!
Boro: Arnold, Wedgbury, Ashton, Charles, Hills, Morais (Shroot), Heslop (Dunne), Tansey, Freeman, Tounkara, Burrow (Lopez)
Subs not used: Ben Smith, Peter Hartley, Jimmy Smith, Marcus Haber