Stevenage bounced back from last weekend's defeat at Newport with a fine 1-0 win over Exeter this afternoon.
Charlie Lee's goal seven minutes from time was enough for Boro to pick up all three points in an end-to-end game at The Lamex Stadium.
Stevenage manager Graham Westley made several changes to last weekend’s team with Darius Charles, Tom Pett, Dean Parrett and Charlie Adams all returning to the starting XI and Ryan Brunt handed his first start in a Boro shirt. Simon Walton, Chris Beardsley and Charlie Lee dropped to the bench with Roarie Deacon also returning amongst the subs.
It was a positive start for Stevenage with Adams and Pett looking bright out wide, both looking to test the visiting full-backs in the opening minutes and winning corners. However with just 10 minutes on the clock the hosts suffered a blow as Lee Barnard went down after a hefty challenge challenge and was soon replaced by Lee.
His strike partner Ryan Brunt was to have an excellent game up top and on 18 minutes he came close to giving Boro the lead. Pett controlled a cross-field ball beautifully and played it back for Henry to whip into the box. That cross was deflected into Parrett’s path who beat his man and crossed for Brunt to force Hamon into a fine save with a neat flick.
Henry and Brunt were to combine again moments later but although the latter rose well in the box, his header wasn’t quite on target.
25 minutes in and Exeter showed their pace on the counter as they came inches away from going one-up themselves. A fast break saw Liam Sercombe released in space and the Grecian cut inside and unleashed a curling effort which beat Day but crashed back off the crossbar.
In an end-to-end half Stevenage were given a free-kick five minutes later when an Exeter man handled whilst jumping. Up stepped Charlie Adams from 25 yards to curl a shot towards the far corner until Hamon flew in with a diving save.
Chris Day was the next ‘keeper called into action as Exeter carved out two excellent opportunities of their own within a matter of minutes. After retaining possession neatly in midfield a long ball forward was headed on by Wheeler for Nicholls to run behind Boro’s backline, with Daisy forced into a low save. Within minutes another nice move again found Nicholls in space - this time he opted for a chipped effort which thankfully landed on the roof of the net.
Brunt and Adams both saw efforts gathered comfortably by Hamon and Parrett fired over as Boro finished the half strongly, although a combination of Henry and Okimo had to be alert to sniff out another Grecians counter-attack.
Straight from the start of the second half Lee blasted over after working his way forward and it was to set the tone for another entertaining 45 minutes of football.
The lively Grimes smashed over for Exeter after cutting inside from the right and a Parrett free-kick flashed across goal as both teams traded chances in the opening 10 minutes after the break.
Still the end-to-end nature of the game continued with Pett showing great footwork in the box before seeing a low effort bobble wide and Wheeler going down inside the area at the other end, with referee waving play on.
Exeter struck the woodwork in impressive fashion in the first half and Boro carved out a carbon copy of that chance themselves with 68 minutes on the clock. Charlie Lee was the unlucky man, seeing his spectacular looping shot cannon off the bar with Hamon completely beaten.
That seemed to raise the volume of The Lamex crowd and that in-turn looked to inspire the players to a strong last 20 minutes with heavy pressure on the Exeter goal.
After winning consecutive corners Boro again went close when Parrett dribbled his way into the box, only to be crowded out, with Brunt again going close by forcing Hamon into a low save after latching onto Lee’s header. The Exeter ‘keeper was having a good game and again came to the Grecian’s rescue on 78 minutes when he clawed away what seemed an almost slow-motion looping header from Lee.
Still Boro pushed forward, with Pett the next to try his luck at getting past the visiting defence, but even once that move broke down Wells had to be extremely alert at the other end to prevent Wheeler from finding a route to goal himself on the counter.
However Stevenage’s constant pressure finally paid off with seven minutes left when Charlie Lee scrambled the ball home from close range after another foray into the Exeter box. After coming so close on a number of occasions throughout the game you could feel the relief and joy around the stadium as another home win beckoned.
Exeter pushed bodies forward in the closing stages looking to grab a late equaliser but it was Stevenage who claimed their seventh league win at home this season to send the Boro fans home happy for Christmas.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Wells, Charles, Okimo, Pett, McAllister, Parrett, Adams (Whelpdale 78), Brunt (Beardsley 90), Barnard (Lee 13)
Subs not used: Beasant, Walton, Conlon, Deacon
Exeter: Hamon, Butterfield, Woodman, Bennett, Ribeiro (Davies 51), Sercombe, Oakley, Grimes, Wheeler, Nicholls, Harley (Morrison 87)
Subs not used: Pym, Keohane, Nichols, Tillson, Cummins
Referee: Dean Whitestone