Boro fell to a two-goal defeat at Griffin Park as Brentford secured all three points.
A goal in either half, both of which will be shown on highlight reels for quite some time, condemned Stevenage to the defeat on a cold Tuesday night.
Tom Adeyemi, on loan from Norwich City, showed a touch of Premier League class with a quite brilliant strike with the first half coming to a close and another loanee from the top division ended the chances of a Boro comeback with a shot of equal measure a few minutes from time.
The defeat leaves Gary Smith’s side 11 points adrift of the League One play off places with a third of the season remaining.
Smith made five changes to the side that began the game against Carlisle United on Saturday, with fatigue playing a part after such an arduous journey just three days earlier. A run of 70 consecutive league starts came to an end for Mark Roberts who began the game on the bench; former Bees man Darius Charles came into the centre of the defence alongside January signing Ben Chorley, who donned the armband. In midfield Greg Tansey returned with James Dunne on the bench whilst Lucas Akins replaced Filipe Morais on the right wing. Of course, Chris Day came in between the sticks with Steve Arnold suspended whilst Sam Hoskins was handed a start in place of Steve Beleck.
Boro were out of the traps in similar fashion to the Notts County game, but a goal inside 30 seconds wasn’t the outcome this time. Akins ran well down the right but was tackled when cutting inside, and the ball was adjudged to have gone out for a goal kick as Gray attempted a cross from the by-line. Still, it was a signal of Smith’s intentions and with Brentford minds potentially on the FA Cup fixture with Chelsea on Saturday; an in-your-face attitude may have been enough to give Stevenage the edge.
It was Uwe Rosler’s side that had the best chance in the opening 20 minutes though, and it fell to striker Hayes who began the game in place of Trotta. Grant lost out in midfield and a decent through ball cut through the Boro centre halves, Hayes had time and space but made the most of neither, firing early and well wide. In truth, Day seemed to have his bottom corner covered with an athletic spring to dive low, but the Bees man really should have tested him at least.
In a game of few chances, the next fell to Hayes again – but the outcome also matched his earlier effort. A mix up between Gray and Charles allowed him a run in, the crowd rose and the anticipation followed, but his powerful effort was once again wide of the bottom corner.
With minutes to go until the half time break the deadlock was broken and the home fans were the ones celebrating. Adeyemi picked the ball up on the corner of a crowded penalty area and cut onto his favored foot before drilling a shot across goal into the far top corner. There was simply nothing anyone could do as it smashed the back of the net, and the former Oldham Athletic man wheeled away to celebrate.
Boro came out strong after the break and Freeman looked an aggressive outlet on the left wing, his final ball was just lacking but the possession he was seeing suggested that he could turn the game on its head. They tried their best to carve out opportunities but were also looking susceptible on the break with Brentford showing their depth by introducing Trotta for Hayes.
The former Arsenal winger tired, and Morais was introduced to the tie with Beleck also replacing Hoskins, who had a difficult evening in attack. There was instantly more of a threat, Morais hit two shots wide whilst Beleck showed a physical presence that wasn’t quite there with Hoskins. The search for an equaliser continued.
The next roll of the dice was the introduction of Shroot, the attacking midfielder has netted some important goals this term and the hope was that he’d add another to the list. He replaced Haber with time ticking away, at a ground where he put in a strong performance last season.
The push forward came at a price, and Boro soon trailed by another. It was another moment of brilliance; the right winger strode through two challenges and played in Trotta who had acres of space – he looked up and curled an effort into the far corner and again Day had no chance.
It was the final blow to Stevenage who fell to defeat on the road for the second time in a week.
Hills, Dunne, Roberts, N’GalaUnused Subs:
Day; Gray, Chorley, Charles, Comminges; Akins, Grant, Tansey, Freeman (Morais 66); Haber (Shroot 83), Hoskins (Beleck 66) Stevenage (4-4-2)
7022 (293 away)Att: