A Boro XI fell to a 4-2 defeat at Bedford Town last night.
The visiting side had a youthful look about it with youngsters Ryan Johnson, Jhai Dhillon and Joseph N’Guessan all starting and a further five scholars on the bench, but both David Gray and Lucas Akins added experience. Head of Youth Darren Sarll took charge of the team.
Right from the off there was more of an intensity about this game than the weekend’s win at Hitchin, with Bedford competitive all over the pitch and looking to take the game to their opponents.
Indeed it was the hosts who went 1-0 up on 11 minutes, Andrew Phillips finding the top corner with a beautiful volley from the edge of the area.
Boro responded and within five minutes had a glorious chance of their own. Good work by Jhai Dhillon saw the first-year pro get into the box and cut the ball across to Lucas Akins, but last year’s top scorer saw his shot saved.
Parity was quickly restored though moments later when Jordan Burrow met a corner with a powerful header back across goal which centre-back Ryan Johnson fired home.
Five minutes later and Boro were ahead through another of their youngsters. Bedford failed to cut out a ball through the heart of the defence from Matt Ball and Joseph N’Guessan was there to coolly slot home.
With the lead now secured the visitors pushed forward and N’Guessan, full of confidence after his goal, went mightily close to a second when his 30-yard effort nearly beat Dan Green only for the ‘keeper to turn the ball over at the last second.
Lucas Akins also went close with a volley from a corner but Boro went into the break 2-1 up.
Bedford put out an entirely different XI for the second half whilst Stevenage kept with the same team.
The teams traded chances in the first 15 minutes of the half with Akins using his pace and power to get past the defence but then saw the ball get trapped under his feet, allowing the defence to clear. Whilst at the other end Nick Thompson turned the ball behind after a long range effort from Bedford.
However the game swung on a 68th minute penalty given against Boro’s defence for a loose challenge. Up stepped Claude Selana who fired past Thompson for the equaliser.
At the other end Matt Ball shot just wide for Stevenage but it was the hosts who retook the lead on 73 minutes, Selana again finding the back of the net after running unchallenged towards the Boro box.
Akins saw a low effort kept out by the sub keeper but it was the Eagles who secured the win with a fourth, Jermaine Fordah finishing smartly following a Bedford corner.
Both Jimmy Hartley and Jamie Carey-Morrell came on for N’Guessan and Johnson in the final few minutes, with a good run down the right from Hartley almost ending in a consolation for Ball, but the ball bounced wide.
Full time at The New Eyrie: Bedford Town 4, Stevenage 2
Boro: Nick Thompson, David Gray, Anthony Furlonge, Ryan Johnson (Jamie Carey-Morrell), Jhai Dhillon, Lucas Akins, Robin Shroot, Matt Ball, Roarie Deacon, Jordan Burrow, Joseph N’Guessan (Jimmy Hartley)
Subs not used: Rohdell Gordon, Dale Gorman, Ben Kennedy