Stevenage won their first home League game of the season by beating in form Walsall 3-1 at the Lamex Stadium keeping them within touching distance at the top of the table.
Midfielder Robin Shroot continued his rich vein of form when he opened up the scoring with an excellent shot from the edge of the box before Walsall levelled in the second half through a George Bowerman glancing header.
Boro did not want to settle for another draw at home and Greg Tansey showed that with the goal of the game. His 30 yard strike put Smith’s side back in the lead and all three points were secured when Lucas Akins fired in from the back post after some good work down the wing from Marcus Haber.
Gary Smith made three changes to the side that drew with Crewe Alexandra on Saturday, and two of those netted goals. Darius Charles missed the game through injury meaning a debut for former Colorado Rapids man Miguel Comminges whilst Shroot and Tansey were also recalled to the side in place of Haber and James Dunne.
It was a cagey start to the game which could have been put down to the fact that Stevenage were still looking for their first home league win of the season and that they were playing a Walsall team that had been on a good run themselves acquiring 11 points from a possible 15.
After much of the play being battled out in the middle of the park the game eventually came to life when Gray played the ball into Shroot who fired in a superb strike from the edge of the box rescinding his recent name of super sub.
Shroot, who had to settle for coming on as a substitute in the last two games, grabbed his fourth goal of the season and backed up the gaffer’s decision to start him. The goal gave Stevenage some belief and more attacks came with some good runs down the right hand side from Akins who tested the visitors defence with some teasing crosses on a number of occasions.
The Saddlers were not going to sit back and wait for Stevenage to score again as they tried to break down the Boro back line. Their first meaningful chance came when Baxendale delivered a cross, come shot that deluded both Boro’s defence and goalkeeper Chris Day only to bounce back off the upright.
Walsall threatened again down the left hand side, however Day was on guard to dominate in the air and punch the ball clear. This was a wakeup call for Gary Smiths men and they controlled the remaining possession and saw their one nil lead out to half time.
Stevenage started the second half brightly and Shroot was saved the embarrassment of miss-hitting a shot into an open goal by the linesman’s offside flag.
Akins switched wings with Freeman and was once again causing problems for Walsall’s defence, playing the ball into Agyemang who was tackled inside the box. Smith’s men had the upper hand and Stevenage would have doubled their lead if it was not for Grof in the Walsall goal to deny a brilliant header from Shroot.
The away side started to put together more meaningful attacks and this paid off in the 59th minutes when Paterson delivered a precise cross for Bowerman to head in past a helpless Chris Day.
The Boro boss immediately made a change by bringing on a fresh set of legs in the form of Marcus Haber and taking off Agyemang.
The game started to become very scrappy, before a touch of class from Greg Tansey fired the home side back in front. Tansey received the ball 25 yards out and blasted the ball into the back of the net giving the Walsall keeper no chance.
Smith decided to tighten things up in midfield by replacing attacking winger Freeman with Dunne in the 76th minute.
However as Walsall pressed forward, Haber was released down the left hand side and managed to trick his way past three defenders by the corner flag and pass the ball into Tansey who delivered a perfect cross to the back post for the ever threatening Akins to seal the three points in the 86th minute.
Stevenage will look to carry on their unbeaten start to the season with a long trip to Doncaster on Saturday as they aim to compete at the top end of the table.
Stevenage (4-5-1) Day; Gray, Roberts, Ashton, Comminges; Akins, Shroot (Risser 89), Grant, Tansey, Freeman (Dunne 74); Agyemang (Haber 61)
Unused Subs: Arnold, N’Gala, Ball, Lopez