Stevenage succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Hertfordshire neighbours Watford at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon.
After a goalless first 45, second half strikes from Carlos Acuna and Troy Deeney gave the Hornets a two goal win against a hardworking Boro side.
Graham Westley made three changes from Tuesday night with Luke Jones, Lee Hills and Lucas Akins all coming into the starting XI. Roarie Deacon dropped to the bench and there was a welcome return to the squad for Steve Arnold whilst triallist Gerardo Bruna was also named in the 19. Darius Charles, Robin Shroot and Filipe Morais were not in the matchday squad and watched on from the stands.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors. Fernando Forestieri found space on the edge of the box and fired in a low shot which flew just past a diving Chris Day’s right hand post.
Dani Lopez went close for Boro before Oumare Tounkara shot just wide on 11 mins after being set up by his jinking Spanish striker partner.
Watford were playing neat possession football and tried to break through on a number of occasions but Boro’s defence was standing firm. Sam Wedgbury put in a great sliding challenge to prevent the Hornets going through on goal whilst Chris Day then pulled off the save of the game, diving to his right to keep out a Lewis McGugan effort.
Both sides continued to create a number of half chances but none of them were going to worry the scoreboard, which stood at 0-0 at half time.
Roarie Deacon came on for Lucas Akins at the start of the second half with the lively Luke Freeman moving over to the right flank as Boro looked to try something different.
Dani Lopez then nearly gave Boro the lead when his close-range header was brilliantly kept out by Jonathan Bond.
But it was the visitors who took the lead on 51 mins. A cross-cum-shot from the left from Dan Pudil was slid home by Carlos Acuna, despite cries of offside from the Boro defence.
The hosts responded with a couple of off-target Lopez efforts before Watford doubled their advantage on 57 mins. Troy Deeney was played through and the big front man calmly slotted past an advancing Chris Day.
To their credit Boro continued to plug away and earned themselves a number of corners, with Luke Jones finding the side-netting with a header on one occasion. Greg Tansey also saw a low effort comfortably saved by Bond in the Watford goal.
The last real chance of the game came from the Hornets with five minutes remaining when Christian Battocchio’s free-kick from distance was easily saved by Day. The visitors saw out the remaining minutes, with the ref blowing right on 90 minutes to secure a 2-0 win for Watford.
Once again Boro showed good commitment and energy levels throughout the match but were perhaps outclassed on the day by the superior passing ability and clinical finishing of their Championship opposition.
Next up for Stevenage is Leeds United on Tuesday night (7.45pm) in what promises to be a cracking game in front of a big crowd.
Boro: Day, Wedgbury (Deaman), Ashton, Jones, Hills, Akins (Deacon), Heslop (Dunne), Tansey (Ball), Freeman, Lopez (Burrow), Tounkara (Bruna)
Sub not used: Arnold
Watford: Bond; Cassetti (Brown), Angella, Doyley, Faraoni (Mensah), McGugan (Fabbrini), Abdi (Battocchio), Hogg (Smith), Anya (Pudil), Forestieri (Acuna), Deeney (Assombalonga)
Subs not used: Schoterrl, O’Nien