Stevenage got back to winnings ways in pre-season with a 3-1 win at Tonbridge Angels this evening.
After an opening half hour of missed opportunities, Boro finally took the lead on the half hour from a trialist before Tonbridge hit back after the break. Within minutes of the restart they equalised with a smart finish only for goals from Bira Dembele and Adam Marriott to secure the win for Boro.
A much-changed Stevenage saw Ryan Johnson start alongside Jon Ashton at the back with scholar George Casey at right-back and skipper for the night Bira Dembele again at left-back. Rohdell Gordon and Charlie Lee occupied the centre of the park with a new trialist playing up top alongside Okenabirhie.
Straight from the off Stevenage showed their attacking intent for the evening, creating a number of chances in the opening quarter of an hour at the picturesque Longmead Stadium. A lobbed effort from N’Guessan lacked power after a neat ball from Okenabirhie, whilst both Lee and Gordon saw efforts fly wide when they perhaps should have found the back of the net.
Tonbridge’s first real chance of the game came on 23 minutes when they were handed a direct free-kick 30 yards out. Up-stepped their striker to attempt a David Luiz-esque drive into the top corner but his effort was wayward and it flew over Day’s bar.
Stevenage kept up the pressure as the half progressed with both Gordon and Deacon going close again before Boro’s pressure finally told just past the 30 minute mark. Good work by Gordon eventually won the visitors a throw out wide and Lee’s long delivery was neatly flicked into the back of the net by the trialist.
The same man went close to a second in a matter of minutes when he fired over inside the box, before Okenabirhie latched onto a loose ball but saw his shot clear the stand.
The long-throws of Charlie Lee look set to be a useful asset to Boro this season and just prior to the break he nearly helped create a second for Graham Westley’s men. In came Lee’s lofted throw from the right, the goalkeeper missed his chance to gather but trialist could only flick an improvised finish just wide of the near post, leaving Boro 1-0 to the good at the break.
Stevenage began the second half as they’d begun, on the attack, with Deacon dragging a right-footed shot past the near post. However it was Tonbridge who equalised six minutes into the half when a cross from the left was expertly guided home by their striker.
Far from letting their heads drop, Boro regrouped and in a blink of an eye they found themselves ahead once again. Gordon’s excellent corner was met powerfully by Lee, with Dembele handily placed to nod the ball home from just a few yards out.
Roarie Deacon continued to provide a lively attacking threat for the visitors and just before the hour went on a rampaging run through the middle of the park. Showing good pace and power he burst past four players like they weren’t there before forcing a fine save from the ‘keeper with an excellent shot.
A whole host of substitutions from both sides broke up play in the second half, with second year scholars Dale Gorman and Ben Kennedy amongst those coming on for Boro.
It wasn’t long before one of those Stevenage subs, Adam Marriott, made the game safe with a third on 72 minutes. Fellow sub Andy Bond saw a looping header from a cross hit the post with the ‘keeper stranded, and then was the former Cambridge City man to take a touch and smash home from close range for 3-1.
A loyal band of Stevenage fans were amongst the 249 in attendance tonight and they will have been pleased with the win, three goals and entertaining encounter against their welcoming Ryman Premier League hosts. Next up for Graham Westley’s men is a trip to Chesham on Saturday, before Reading are our next visitors at The Lamex Stadium on Tuesday.
Stevenage: Day, Casey (Walton 65), Ashton (Worley 60), Johnson (Wells 65), Dembele (Kennedy 80), N’Guessan (Pett 65), Lee (Gorman 70), Gordon (Bond 65), Deacon, Okenabirhie (Marriott 65), Trialist (Calcutt 65)
Subs not used: Beasant, Jackson, Jones