Stevenage suffered a 3-2 defeat in a topsy-turvy league game at Gillingham this evening.
An uneventful first half was brightened by a Simon Heslop goal as Boro took a 1-0 lead into the break, but Gillingham turned the game on its head with two goals inside the opening five minutes of the second half. Francois Zoko equalised as Stevenage fought back but it was former midfielder John Mousinho who popped up with the winner with 15 minutes remaining.
Graham Westley made one enforced change to his starting XI with David Gray replacing the suspended Jimmy Smith. Oumare Tounkara was recalled to the bench.
The hosts forged the first effort on goal after just a couple of minutes. A free-kick from Craig Fagan found Danny Kedwell at the back post but his first time volley was straight at Day.
Seven minutes in and Adam Barrett suffered the indignity of one of the worst misses of the season. The central defender, up from the back, somehow fired over from just a yard out when fellow centre-back Daniels prodded the ball away from Day and into his path. There was debate in the press box as to whether the linesman had flagged for offside anyway, but nevertheless it had the crowd shaking their head in disbelief.
A scrappy period of play ensued for 20 minutes or so for both teams with neither really threatening a goal but a half of few chances was lit up on 36 minutes when Boro took the lead in spectacular fashion.
When the Gills cleared a Boro set-piece Simon Heslop picked the ball up 25 yards out, advanced and hit a sweet effort into the far corner for his first Stevenage goal.
The hosts rallied and claimed a penalty five minutes before the break when the ball appeared to roll up Gray’s arm but the ref waved away penalty claims.
The first half didn’t provide many moments of joy for the home faithful but within 38 seconds of the restart they were off their feet when Kedwell tangled with Ashton in the box and won a penalty.
The striker got up, dusted himself down and fired high into Day’s net to equalise.
The Gills then turned the game on its head by taking the lead in the 50th minute. Day was clattered as a Gillingham corner came in but with Boro breaking out of the box the ref allowed play to continue. However the visitors lost possession and when the ball came back into the area, in crept Donervorn Daniels to volley in with Barrett still prone on the floor after his original challenge on Day.
Peter Taylor’s men were buoyant but Boro refused to die down and deservedly equalised just before the hour. From a short corner Heslop swung the ball to the back post where Ashton headed back to the edge of the box. In came Morais with a powerful header which Zoko finished off to make it 2-2.
Gray and Doughty went close with efforts as Boro piled on the pressure before Freeman missed a great chance when Martin slipped, but his right-footed shot was straight at Nelson.
The final goal of this topsy-turvy game came with quarter of an hour remaining but fell to Gillingham. The ref gave a free-kick wide right against Heslop and when the ball was swung in there was former Boro midfielder John Mousinho with a free header to send the ball into the back of the net.
The impressive Danny Kedwell had been giving Boro’s defence a much more physical test than they’d faced in recent weeks and he came mightily close to securing the points in the final 10 minutes when he turned Jones on the edge of the box, but his low effort crept just wide.
Graham Westley threw on Jordan Burrow, Roarie Deacon and Bruno Andrade in the closing stages as Stevenage battled for another equaliser and Boro did rally in the final few minutes.
Freeman fired over inside the box after Zoko looked to have been fouled and as the game entered four minutes of injury time there was a scramble when Nelson failed to claim a Doughty free-kick, but Gillingham somehow cleared.
Three points for Gillingham lifts them up to 16th with Boro just a point above the relegation zone heading into a big game on Saturday against 18th placed Shrewsbury at The Lamex Stadium.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hewitt, Daniels, Barrett, Martin, Hollands, Harriman, Mousinho, Weston, Kedwell, Fagan (McDonald 75)
Subs not used: Davies, Whelpdale, Akinfenwa, Dack, Howard, Hessenthaler
Boro: Day, Gray (Andrade 79), Ashton, Jones, Hartley (Deacon 86), Akins, Heslop, Doughty, Freeman, Morais (81), Zoko
Subs not used: Arnold, Wedgbury, Tansey, Tounkara
Ref: Brendan Malone
Attendance: 4,951 (125 away)