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14 August 2012

Stevenage progressed to the Second Round of the League Cup for the first time since promotion to the Football League with victory over AFC Wimbledon at the Lamex Stadium.

The game was entertaining throughout and the Boro fans in attendance were again treated to some magnificent football.

All four of the game’s goals came in the first half, with the deadlock broken by Marcus Haber just fifteen minutes in.

The lead was doubled on 38 minutes when James Dunne chased down a back pass to the goalkeeper and was rewarded for his persistence when an air kick allowed him to slot into an empty net but the away side pulled one back just a minute later as Brendan Kiernan netted from the edge of the box.

On the brink of half time Haber hit a half-volley at the back post that reinstated the two-goal cushion.

The second half was a more even affair with both sides creating chances but it’s Boro who progress to the Second Round draw.

Gary Smith handed out seven competitive debuts for the tie; Lee Hills missed the game through injury however David Gray, Bondz N’Gala, Dunne, Anthony Grant, Filipe Morais, Greg Tansey and Haber all started at the Lamex Stadium. With 20 minutes to go Lucas Akins added himself to the debutant list as a substitute.  

Meanwhile the away side included former Boro players Sammy Moore, Jack Midson and most recently Stacy Long in their starting XI however striker Byron Harrison occupied one of seven spaces on the bench. Former Brentford man Pim Balkestein made his way into the line-up with fellow summer signings Angus MacDonald, his central defence partner, and Warren Cummings, left back, also starting. 

Boro began the game well and weren’t giving the Dons a sniff of possession, Dunne came close with a long range effort that was spilled to safety by Seb Brown but just two minutes later the home fans were celebrating. Darius Charles sent a great ball over the top of the defence on the left hand side that Like Freeman ran onto well, he drilled a perfect ball into the box and Haber toe poked it beyond the ‘keeper and into the back of the net, although he may have had a little help from defender Balkestein en route.

The advantage was doubled seven minutes before the break when a long ball back to the Dons ‘keeper bounced horribly in front of him; under pressure from Dunne he totally missed the ball with his attempted clearance allowing the former Exeter man to simply steal in and knock it over the line. 

Wimbledon breathed life back into the game just a minute later, pulling a goal back with a top-corner finish. Kiernan was the man to get the goal that beat Chris Day and nestled into the top left from the edge of the box. 

The action was non-stop and amazingly before the break there was a fourth goal for the supporters to see. Haber got his second of the night when a curled free kick found him at the back post and he cleverly volleyed into the far corner of the net.

After the break the game was more even but neither side looked like adding to the lead before the hour mark. Freeman shaped up for a shot but saw his effort sail over the North Terrace and a Charles header could perhaps have tested Brown more, whilst at the other end Day was being saved from any real danger by some commanding work from his defence. Still, Boro played with confidence. The build-up play continued its progression and much like the pre-season friendly with Peterborough the supporters were being treated to spells of beautiful passing. 

Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day; Gray, Roberts, N’Gala, Charles; Dunne, Grant; Morais (Akins 70), Tansey (Shroot 70), Freeman; Haber (Thalassitis 88)
Unused Subs: Arnold, Ashton, Furlonge

AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Brown; Mitchel-King, MacDonald, Balkestein, Cummings; Kiernan (Harrison 79), Moore, Jolley (Harris 58), Long; Moore, Midson
Unused Subs: Fenlon, Jaimez-Ruiz, Merrifield, Yussuff, Strutton

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