Stevenage fell to their first defeat of the season against Premier League Southampton at the Lamex Stadium on Tuesday evening, but there was plenty of encouragement for the home fans in their side’s performance.
For 45 minutes Stevenage more than matched their illustrious opponents but failed to score the goals that their enterprising build-up play deserved. Greg Tansey hit the bar and Marcus Haber failed to convert several excellent chances, while Luke Freeman tormented the visitors.
But after the interval it was a different story. Japanese striker Tadanari Lee swept home a Billy Sharp cross after Stevenage gave the ball away in midfield. Then in a bizarre incident a freekick was awarded to Southampton after Chris Day handled Mark Roberts’ sliced clearance; Billy Sharp scoring from the quickly taken freekick.
In short order is was three with a superb volley from Jason Puncheon, and although Michael Thalassitis pulled one back for Stevenage Ben Reeves restored the three goal advantage for the visitors with a stinging drive late on.
"I'm not sure we got the rub of the green,” Gary Smith said. “The second goal was a pivotal moment in the game and if the referee shows a little more common sense he will see from Mark's body shape he is looking to play the ball across the pitch to the full-back.
"He touches the ball with his standing foot and his other foot touches it back to the keeper. Without that there could have been a different slant on the game. We played some very good football but the result looks like a bit of a beating. The second goal undoubtedly shook and rocked the players. I thought we lost out discipline and looked too open for a few minutes."