Stevenage fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Coventry City this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
Boro kept the previously free-scoring Sky Blues at bay for much of this game but saw Leon Clarke notch the only goal of the game just past the half hour, after he latched onto a loose back-pass and fired home from close range.
Team news saw Graham Westley recall Oumare Tounkara and Robin Shroot to the starting eleven. There was also a return for Lucas Akins and Filipe Morais on the bench with new loan signing Bruno Andrade also amongst the subs.
It was an entertaining opening 15 minutes with efforts for both sides. Jon Ashton headed over from a Greg Tansey free-kick before John Fleck fired just wide after finding space on the edge of the Boro box.
Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson have been in impressive form for the Sky Blues this season, with both involved early on in this game. Clarke sidefooted over inside the box when it looked easier to score whilst shortly afterwards a wonderful take-down by Wilson wasn’t matched by his wild finish over.
Coventry continued to push forward with former Rangers man John Fleck, operating in centre-midfield, firing just wide after finding space on the edge of the Boro box. Chris Day was then forced into a fine one-handed stop from a Connor Thomas shot from distance, with his parry brilliantly taking it out of the path of an advancing Sky Blue.
After withstanding the early onslaught Boro came into the game and created a number of great chances of their own. Firstly Greg Tansey fired just wide after excellent approach play down the left by Oumare Tounkara before Luke Freeman saw a shot bounce just wide after an excellent solo run.
The Frenchman then latched onto a long ball himself but was crowded out by the covering defenders before more support could reach him.
Just past the half hour, Coventry took the lead. Clarke picked up a loose back-pass from Robin Shroot and calmly tucked the ball home inside Day’s near-post.
Buoyed by their lead the visitors went looking for a second and nearly scored again moments later when Wilson saw a powerful effort deflect over.
Both sides pushed forward but there were no further chances as the Sky Blues went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes into the second period and Coventry thought they had a penalty. A through-ball saw Wilson up against Ashton and although the striker outpaced Boro’s skipper he then went to ground in the box – after a moment to consider, the referee waved play on.
Filipe Morais came on for Greg Tansey on 55 minutes and within seconds he was into the action, firing over from the right. Dani Lopez came on for Shroot two minutes later with Freeman moving out to the left.
Boro were lifted by the changes and a good spell of pressure from the home side saw Freeman beautifully control a Smith diagonal ball before his cross found Joe Murphy in the City goal.
Lopez then tested Murphy from distance but the shot was straight at him.
With eight minutes remaining Boro came oh so close to an equaliser. A free-kick routine involving Doughty, Morais and Dunne saw the ball played out to Freeman on the left and his driven cross hit Ashton and was saved by Murphy's leg at the near post.
With the home crowd roaring their team on Stevenage kept up the pressure but, despite the fourth official indicating six minutes of injury time, there were no further chances.
A win for Coventry gave them their first victory in three games whilst for Boro the attention now turns to Tuesday night when MK Dons are the visitors in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Boro: Day, Smith, Ashton, Hartley, Deacon, Shroot (Lopez 57), Tansey (Morais 55), Dunne, Doughty, Tounkara (Akins 68), Freeman
Subs not used: Arnold, Wedgbury, Jones, Andrade
Coventry: Murphy, Christie (Garner 88), Webster, Thomas, Adams, Clarke, Fleck, Barton (Willis 77), Moussa, Clarke, Wilson
Subs not used: Burge, Manset, Haynes, Rankin, Maddison
Ref: Graham Scott