A young Stevenage side progressed through to the second round of the Herts Senior Cup last night with a well-deserved 5-0 win over Essex Senior League Premier Division team Sawbridgworth Town FC.
It was not plain sailing for the home side as the only breakthrough in the first half came from a Robin Shroot penalty. Luke Freeman doubled their lead in the second half and young substitute Jhai Dhillon made it three.
Shroot completed his hat trick with two goals towards the end of the second half as the visitors started to tire and gave Boro more space to express themselves.
The home side started well with some good link up play down the left hand side between Lee Hills and Luke Freeman only for the resulting cross to be cleared at the back post. Robin Shroot also had a chance soon after as he broke through the centre only to see his effort saved well from James May.
Boro’ were starting to dominate possession but were lacking the clinical finishing as Dani lopez slid a ball through for Michael Thalassitis whose shot was well saved again by May.
Minutes later Boro were given the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Shroot was fouled in the area giving the referee no option but to point to the spot and Shroot made no mistake with his penalty, chipping it over May.
Sawbridgeworth tried to make their mark on the game with George Whappett making a good run from the half way line to the by line, shrugging off Lopez and Oliver Risser however the away side could not create space to release the shot and Boro regained possession.
On 30 minutes Whappett again caused the Boro back line problems as he skipped past two defenders and his excellent curling effort was headed off the line by Hills.
Manager Gary Smith fielded a number of youth team players including goal keeper Charlie Horlock and youth team captain George Allen however he also installed two senior players Risser and Andy Iro at the heart of the defence to provide some experience.
The Essex Premier Division team had a good chance to level when Horlock was penalised for holding the ball too long however the resulting indirect free kick was well shut down by the Boro wall.
The teams went in at the break separated by just the one goal from the penalty spot and Boro knew they had to extend their lead to get comfortable but the visitors had other ideas as they came out of the block fast with their main outlet Whappett starting where he left off attacking down the left.
Minutes later Sawbridgeworth nearly did level as Mitchell Dias attacked down the right hand side and delivered a precise cross to the feet of Spike Bell whose close range effort was saved well by Horlock and rebounded narrowly wide.
The away side were struggling to find the finishing touch and Boro made them pay as goal scorer Shroot turned provider as he played in Freeman who only had the keeper to beat and did so sliding the ball into the bottom right corner doubling Boro’s lead.
Dias attempted to get his side back in the game with a clever effort with the outside of his right boot but Horlock was equal to it and pushed it around the post.
As the away side started to tire Freeman received the ball out wide and picked out substitute Jhai Dhillon at the back post whose initial effort was saved by May but his follow up put the game to bed making it 3-0.
It was nearly 4-0 soon after when Matt Ball cut the ball back to another substitute Don Cowan whose fierce strike hit the post and by this point Boro were looking dangerous every time they went forward.
The fourth came as Shroot doubled his tally for the night when he twisted and turned in the box and placed the ball into the bottom corner.
Lopez was close to getting on the score sheet in the 80th minute with a superb curling effort but May who played well all night managed to get a strong hand to it.
Shroot rounded off the rout when he did well to control Ball’s precise pass inside the box and put it past May.
Stevenage travel to Royston Town FC in the second round who are second in the Evo-Stick Southern Division One Central so will provide a real test to the young Boro players.