Boro’s pre-season campaign got off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory over Championship-side Derby County at the Afrihaa Stadium in Nakuru, Kenya.
A torrential downpour threatened the game an hour before kick-off but on arrival at the ground Boro’s squad of volunteers were met by an enthusiastic crowd of 700 fans, including teachers and pupils from Luchema Primary School, one of the two projects the Stevenage contingent have been working at during their 11-day stay in the country.
With big puddles on the pitch Boro quite literally soaked up early pressure from their opponents with ‘keeper Dave Smith making two smart saves to prevent Derby – who also had representatives from Wycombe and Portsmouth within their team – from taking the lead.
A Derby goal was also ruled out for handball by the FIFA qualified, former-Kenyan Premier League referee who took charge of the fixture in exchange for a Boro shirt!
The wet conditions were proving difficult for both teams but Boro gradually grew into the game and had a couple of half-chances of their own through Tom Wilson, but he failed to really trouble the keeper as the teams went in at half-time goalless.
If the first half was lacking goals for the enthusiastic crowd then the second half definitely made up for it, with the scoreboard troubled on four occasions.
Stevenage broke the deadlock with the goal of the game. A long clearance from Greg Wilson was headed on at the third (!) attempt by Dean Thompson and Danny Powell raced through and hit a sweet half-volley over the advancing goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Derby pushed forward for an equaliser but it was Tom Wilson who doubled Boro’s advantage with a brave back-post header to send the Boro fans into raptures.
Derby pulled one back when Boro’s otherwise impressive defence failed to clear a cross and the ball was tapped in at the back post past sub-keeper Alex Tunbridge, who had kept The Rams at bay with a couple of smart saves at the start of the half.
However Boro sealed the victory – and the resort bragging rights – when Wilson finished neatly for his second of the game.
Whilst the result wasn’t necessarily important at the end of the day, the enthusiasm and friendliness from the locals to their visitors was once again fantastic and provided yet another highlight of this fantastic trip for the travelling English contingent.
Boro’s first (proper!) pre-season match takes place at the Lamex Stadium on Tuesday 16th July at 7.45pm when a QPR XI are our visitors. A week later, on Tuesday 23rd July, Championship side Leeds will also be visiting. Both games are 7.45pm kick-offs.
Boro squad: Dave Smith, Darrel Watson, Russ Baker, Greg Wilson, Paul Brown, Danny Powell, Mitch Jones, Tom Wellings, Danii Burge, Dean Thompson, Tom Wilson, Alex Tunbridge, Jess Carter, Hannah Nolan, Dave Toyn, Craig Males