Stevenage secured a second successive league win – and their fourth win in five games – with a 2-0 victory over Crawley Town this afternoon.
With a loud crowd packing into The Lamex for the club’s Halloween promotion game, Boro ensured there was no horror show with goals in each half from Peter Hartley and Michael Doughty confirming all three points for Boro.
Team news was simple - Graham Westley named the same team which won so convincingly at Crewe in midweek. Meanwhile Crawley named former Boro players Dannie Bulman and Andy Drury in their ranks.
It was the visitors who were out of the blocks the quickest with Crawley’s new loan signing Kyle Bennett nearly making an instant impact within a minute. His shot from the edge of the area forced Chris Day into a fine fingertip save, with Boro defending the resulting corner well.
Stevenage won a couple of corners of their own, the second of which in the 7th minute provided the perfect start as Peter Hartley met Greg Tansey’s delivery with a bullet header to find the back of the net.
13 minutes nearly proved embarrassing for Crawley keeper Paul Jones after Francois Zoko charged down his clearance. However - unlike the Brentford game a fortnight ago – the Ivorian saw his deflection fly wide for a goal-kick.
Both teams enjoyed periods of possession as the half progressed with each winning a number of free-kicks, none of which came to anything.
On 34 minutes good work by Morais saw him feed Tansey on the wing, but Freeman couldn’t get his head over the midfielder’s cross and it sailed wide.
Crawley improved as the half progressed and created three great chances of their own in the five minutes before half time. First Adams evaded Doughty and Heslop in midfield and fired in a left-footed effort from the edge of the area which went just wide.
Bennett then pounced on a loose ball from Doughty and charged forward. With Adams to his right in space he instead played in Dannie Bulman who somehow failed to find the target from inside the box.
Moments later Day was forced into a top save when Simpson had a shot from distance took a deflection and Boro’s number 16 reacted superbly to keep it out and maintain the hosts 1-0 halftime lead.
Crawley looked to start the second half the way they finished the first with Boro lucky to still be ahead on 51 minutes. A neat through-ball from Walsh saw Adams get behind Boro’s back-line and whilst he beat Day, he couldn’t beat Ashton on the line.
The visitors kept up the pressure and neat interplay between Jones and Bennett saw the former fire in a low effort which was comfortable for Day. Moments later the latter tricked his way past Heslop before seeing a swirling shot sail over.
Stevenage looked to reassert themselves in the game and when Zoko did well to hold the ball up in the channels, Tansey whipped in a cross which Freeman could only fire over. The winger was nearly at it again within minutes, cutting in from the left but shooting over.
Jordan Burrow came on for Morais as Westley looked to shake things up and not long after Bruno Andrade replaced Freeman.
The Portugese winger nearly had an immediate impact, latching onto a loose ball and racing towards goal only to be dispossessed at the vital moment. Soon after he had another chance to show his blistering pace, breaking from a Crawley corner and cutting inside before firing just wide.
Crawley sensed an equaliser in the closing stages and when Boro failed to clear a corner, the ball pinged around the box before being blocked on the line. Sub James Hurst then collected a short corner and blasted at goal but Day was again equal to it, beating the ball away.
Despite being under the cosh for much of the half, it was Boro who sealed the win with a second right on 90 minutes. Michael Doughty picked up possession 30 yards out and burst into space, advancing into the box before slotting neatly inside the far post.
Stevenage’s third win in four league games – and fourth win in five in all competitions - lifts Boro up to 17th and will see the squad them travel to Molineux full of confidence next weekend as they looked to extend this recent run.
Boro: Day, Smith, Jones, Ashton, Hartley, Tansey (Dunne 87), Doughty, Heslop, Freeman (Andrade 77), Morais (Burrow 63), Zoko,
Subs not used: Arnold, Wedgbury, Parrett, Tounkara
Crawley: Jones, Simpson, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler, Bennett, Bulman (Proctor 67), Jones (Hurst 80), Adams, Drury, Alexander (Sinclair 67)
Subs not used: Maddison, Connolly, Essam, Torres
Referee: R Clarke