THRILLING 3-2 WIN OVER LEAGUE LEADERS SEES BORO PROGRESS
Stevenage marched into the area semi-final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with a 3-2 win over Leyton Orient at The Lamex Stadium tonight.
A breathless first half saw all five goals as Boro twice took a two-goal lead but were then reduced to 10 men when Roarie Deacon was dismissed on 38 minutes. Orient pushed forward but were unable to find a way past Graham Westley's resilient team.
Team news saw just a single change from Saturday's win over Portsmouth with Peter Hartley returning from illness and Bruno Andrade dropping to the bench. Boro were then dealt a blow in the warm-up when Jon Ashton went down injured, leading to a recall for Roarie Deacon to the starting XI and Greg Tansey to the bench.
Stevenage started the weekend's game with a goal inside 8 minutes but bettered that here by taking the lead inside two. Luke Freeman swung the ball in, Francois Zoko went for the ball and it looped up and over Jamie Jones for the perfect start.
Morais and Freeman went close with a shot and lob of their own respectively before Boro doubled their lead on 10 minutes. Lucas Akins started and finished the move, finding Morais in space down the right flank before rising highest in the box to meet the winger's perfect cross to find the back of the net.
Despite their great start Boro were soon reminded of Orient's attacking quality when the O's reduced the deficit within three minutes, David Mooney volleying in his 13th of the season from inside the box.
A hectic opening quarter of an hour was confirmed when Stevenage restored their two-goal advantage on 15 minutes from the penalty spot. Freeman's volley was adjudged to have been handled by Omozusi and Morais stepped up to tuck his spot-kick home low into the bottom corner, despite the best efforts of Jones.
The referee could have then given Boro second penalty on 32 minutes when a Freeman cross struck an arm. It was perhaps even more of a hand-ball than the one Orient had already been penalised for, but the referee played on.
Orient were thrown a lifeline on 37 minutes when Boro were reduced to 10 men. A long ball forward from Jones caught out the home defence with an already stumbling Batt going down under pressure out wide from Roarie Deacon. The ref took a moment before showing Deacon the red card.
Despite their man disadvantage it was the hosts who had the ball in the back of the net next, but Zoko's effort was ruled out for a foul on Omosuzi.
Stevenage looked to see out the half but Orient pulled another goal back right on the stroke of half-time when Boro were adjudged to have fouled in the box. Chris Day guessed correctly but couldn't keep out Lloyd James' low effort.
A man to the good, the visitors came out with new purpose in the second half and within 10 minutes Mooney forced Day into a flying save with a header.
At the other end brilliant work by Zoko, all on his own up front, created an opportunity for Doughty, but the midfielder blazed high and wide from the edge of the box.
Day was called into action on the hour with a fine near-post save from a Marvin Bartley effort.
Graham Westley then made his first change of the evening with Sam Wedgbury coming on for Freeman, who'd moved to left-back since Deacon's dismissal. Wedgbury went into midfield with Doughty the latest to drop to full-back.
Orient also made their first sub shortly after, replacing Mooney with the experienced Kevin Lisbie.
There followed a fairly even passage of play with both teams enjoying spells of possession without threatening either goal. There were also a whole host of substitutions as the visitors threw on attacking options and Boro replaced scorer Zoko with Jordan Burrow.
With 8 minutes remaining Stevenage thought they should have had a free-kick - and possibly more - when Zoko was hauled down in identical fashion to that which saw Deacon dismissed, but the ref signalled play on.
Orient controlled the ball well in the closing stages, including the five minutes of injury time, but the hosts stood firm to book their place in the area quarter-final and extend their unbeaten home run.
Stevenage: Day, Smith, Jones, Hartley, Deacon, Morais, Doughty, Heslop, Freeman (Wedgbury 62), Zoko (Burrow 90), Akins
Subs not used: Arnold, Tansey, Andrade
Orient: Jones, Omozusi, Sawyer, Cuthbert, Cox, James, Mooney, Odubajo, James, Batt (Lasimant 71), Stockley (Simpson 78), Mooney (Lisbie 69)
Subs not used: Larkins, Vanderhyde
Referee: J Adcock