Stevenage ran out convincing 5-0 winners at Hitchin Town this afternoon, helped by a Dani Lopez hat-trick.
Despite dominating possession in the first half, Boro had just a solitary Lopez strike to show for their efforts. However the floodgates truly opened in the second half with Roarie Deacon, Robin Shroot and Lopez (2) again finding the back of the net to seal a straightforward victory against their hosts.
Boro boss Graham Westley used the game as an opportunity to give a chance to some of his squad players as well as three trialists – Paul Reid, who came on last night against Manchester United XI, Bira Dembele and Micky Spillane. Striker Jordan Burrow took the captain’s armband.
Hitchin had an early opportunity with a 25-yard free-kick but the striker’s flicked header took it wide of Nick Thompson’s post.
Boro’s first chance came soon after when James Dunne and Spillane combined to set up Dani Lopez, who could only fire over from close range.
The visitors continued to push forward and good work by Roarie Deacon down the left resulted in a right-footed cross to the back post where it was cleared behind. Robin Shroot’s corner was headed back across goal but Dembele could only guide his second header over.
Shroot (twice) and Dunne went close with efforts of their own before Boro broke the deadlock on 27 minutes and in some style. Lopez picked up the ball in space outside the box and unleashed a shot which curled away from the diving keeper and went in off the post. A great strike by the Spaniard.
Hitchin responded with an ambitious effort from the corner of the box which flew over Thompson’s bar but otherwise threatened little as Boro’s dominance all over the pitch came through.
Stevenage nearly doubled their lead before the break when Lopez shot past the ‘keeper but a covering defender was there to block and Shroot’s follow-up hit the post.
Half Time: Hitchin Town 0 – Stevenage 1
Younger ‘keeper Thompson was called into action early in the second half when he punched clear from a Hitchin set piece as the hosts looked for an equaliser.
But it was Boro who doubled their lead when Robin Shroot drove forward towards the Hitchin box and played in Roarie Deacon on the left. The winger took a touch before finding the bottom corner.
James Dunne saw an effort turned behind for a corner as the visitors continued to push forward and they went further ahead on 58 minutes. Shroot again drove forward with Deacon in space, but this time the midfielder went alone and found the bottom corner with a left-footed effort of his own from 18 yards.
Three minutes later it was 4-0 when Lopez was played in on the right and found the back of the net with a low shot.
Jhai Dhillon and Jo N’Guessan came on for Anthony Furlonge and James Dunne respectively as Graham Westley gave more of his younger squad players an opportunity to impress.
But it was Boro’s Spaniard who particularly caught the eye in an impressive team performance, blasting home from distance to complete his treble.
The hardworking Jordan Burrow then came close to scoring his first goal for the club when he turned his man in the box and fired in a shot, but the young striker saw his effort crash back off the post and away to safety.
Ultimately it was a convincing win for Stevenage who now eagerly look ahead to next weekend's opening League 1 fixture against Oldham Athletic.
Boro: Nick Thompson, Micky Spillane, Bira Dembele, Paul Reid, Anthony Furlonge (Jhai Dhillon), James Dunne (Jo N’Guessan), Matt Ball, Robin Shroot, Roarie Deacon, Dani Lopez, Jordan Burrow