4-0 win over Stourbridge sees Boro progress
Stevenage ensured safe passage to the third round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Stourbridge this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
The scoreline might suggest a one-sided 90 minutes but the enthusiastic visitors certainly made life uncomfortable for Boro in the first half, with both sides missing chances prior to Francois Zoko's 43rd minute opener.
Second half goals from Akins, Freeman and Morais secured the win for the hosts as their class and fitness shown through in the second half against their non-league opponents.
Boro boss Graham Westley made just one change to last weekend's starting XI with Peter Hartley returning from suspension at left-back and Luke Freeman pushing forward in a more familiar left-wing role. Bruno Andrade dropped to the bench and was joined amongst others by Ben Chorley, featuring in a first-team squad for the first time this season after injury.
With Boro keen to control the game from the off and Stourbridge looking to impress their more illustrious opponents straight away, the opening exchanges were always likely to be lively and thus it proved as both sides created chances in the opening two minutes.
First it was Stevenage with Morais taking on his defender and putting in a good cross for Akins but his header wasn't well timed and went wide.
Within seconds Stourbridge were up the other end with Benbow seeing a shot on the half-volley fly just wide of Day's far post, much to the dismay of the already-celebrating away bench and fans.
The visitors kept up the pressure and twice had the ball in the back of the net from corners in the preceding minutes, but the ref disallowed both.
In a frantic opening period, Boro went close to the opener when Akins controlled a Doughty cross from the left for Morais to twist but fire wide of the post.
Graham Westley made an early sub on 11 minutes, replacing the already booked Doughty with Dean Parrett in the middle of the park.
Drew Canavan went close with a curling effort and Zoko nodded wide as both teams traded chances as the half progressed with the visitors next to go close - Rowe forcing Day into a save after a cross into the Boro box was deflected away from Ashton.
A number of misplaced passes and wayward efforts from the hosts were clearly giving Stourbridge confidence but it was Boro who continued to offer more threat to the opposition goal.
On 41 minutes Akins slid in to meet a Freeman cross but saw his effort fly over. However Boro finally got the breakthrough they were looking for two minutes before the break through that man Zoko. Freeman came short to gather a corner, turned and clipped in a cross which the Ivorian met to head into the back of the net.
Any hopes of a Stourbridge upset were dealt a blow just three minutes after the break when Boro doubled their advantage.
The lively Parrett delivered a great cross which was met in the box and looped up - the keeper thought it was going over but when the ball hit the bar and dropped down, there was Akins to tap over the line.
Morais went close with a shot before Boro made their pressure tell on the hour with a third when Freeman fired home from close range after a scramble in the box.
That goal seemed to give Boro's number 15 increased confidence and he would go on to take centre-stage in the closing half hour. A superb 71st minute run saw him take the ball past several players before firing just wide with his right foot, whilst he continued to terrorise the Stourbridge defence with a number of mazy dribbles and crosses.
The gloss was applied late on when Morais won, and converted, a late penalty but Boro's progress was already secured.
Stourbridge's loud support stayed behind well after the final whistle to salute their heroes but it's Stevenage that go into tomorrow's potentially lucrative third round draw.
Stevenage: Day, Smith, Ashton, Jones, Hartley, Morais, Heslop (Andrade 79), Doughty (Parrett 11), Freeman, Akins (Wedgbury 31), Zoko
Subs not used: Arnold (gk), Chorley, Burrow, Deacon
Stourbridge: Coleman, Canavan (Washbourne 55), Richards, Oliver (Knight 73), Geddes, Bennett, Rowe, Broadhurst, Francis (Drake 79), Billingham, Benbow
Subs not used: Slater (gk), Fitzpatrick, Agbor, Brown
Attendance: 2,160 (756 away)