Boro were involved in another seven goal game in Ireland, however this time it was a lot more competitive as Gary Smith’s side ran out 4-3 winners of Irish Premier League outfit University College of Dublin.
Marcus Haber scored his second goal of pre-season when he headed home a Greg Tansey cross from the right hand side, and it could have been two just a minute later when Luke Freeman viciously volleyed goal wards only to see Hugh Douglas block well.
The rain began to fall heavily on the pitch and surface water was emerging, with the change in conditions saw a change in fortunes for the home side and great link up play between Samir Belhout, Gary Burke and Stephen Doyle almost unlocked the Boro defence but for the strength of Darius Charles denying them a chance on goal.
Stevenage were calling for a penalty midway through the half with Haber seemingly fouled in the box; he was stretching to get onto a low cross from Charles after the defender had played a delightful one-two with Freeman. Surging from the back, he made his way into the area and played a decent ball across but the referee felt that there was no foul on the Canadian striker in the middle.
Jon Ashton showed that he had equal ability to burst out of defence and with ten minutes of the half remaining he made his way through the UCD midfield; he lost possession to defender Tomas Boyle who played it back to his goalkeeper - but Boro’s number 5 wasn’t done there – he continued his run and put pressure on Mark McGinley who felt the wrath of Ash and won a free kick.
Five minutes of the half remained and out of nowhere the home side found an equaliser; and what an equaliser at that. Boro gave away a cheap free kick which was quickly squared to hot prospect Paul Corry on the edge of the box. Failing to close him down, the defence could only watch as he looked up and placed the ball into the top far corner.
With the second half only three minutes old UCD found a way in front; the referee awarded a penalty and second half substitute Dave McMillan struck it straight down the centre and into the back of the net.
Twenty minutes passed and Smith rang the changes; earlier in the game Robin Shroot had replaced Filipe Morais but with 65 minutes on the clock Lee Hills, Patrick Agyemang, Jess Parsons and Matt Ball joined the field of play. Charles, Haber, Mark Roberts and James Dunne made way.
Stevenage almost drew level when Shroot picked up a short corner and cut inside but his effort whizzed centimetres wide of the far post – just a minute later he did find the back of the net though. A mix up at the back saw the ‘keeper send a looping ball into the air that Agyemang chested into the path of Shroot. Fresh off the back of four goals against St James’ Gate the midfielder expertly rounded the number one and slotted the ball into the empty net.
Many may have expected the Irish side to falter at the sign of a comeback, but to their credit they pushed on and in fact retook the lead in the tie. A long free kick was expected to go in search of a header in the box but instead Danny Ledwith’s ball evaded all of those in the area and nestled in the back of the net for a 3-2 score line.
The tie had heated up and the rainfall ended, the action was non stop and amazingly four minutes later there was a sixth goal of the fixture. Shroot got his second and sixth of the tour when a quick breakaway put him one-on-one with the ‘keeper; in the same vein as before he used tricky footwork to take it round him and squeezed it in from a tight angle.
Although all roads seemed to be pointing to a draw, a result that would have fairly reflected the tie, Tansey had other ideas. With seconds remaining his side won a free kick in a dangerous position, after curling a beauty in against the Gate just four days earlier many would have been forgiven to not have expected the same again. Again, Tansey has other ideas. He spotted the ball and curled it perfectly into the top corner to earn Boro the victory.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Arnold; Charles (Hills 65), Ashton (N’Gala 45), Roberts (Parsons 65), Cominguez; Grant, Dunne (Ball 65); Morais (Shroot 30), Tansey, Freeman; Haber (Agyemang 65)
Meanwhile, back in England, a Stevenage XI comprising of youth team players, five of which were 16, fell to a 3-2 defeat at Topfield against local side Hitchin Town.
Boro's goals came from Joe N'Guessan and Otis Sandho against a strong Hitchin side.