Stevenage U18s staged a remarkable second half comeback to win their latest Merit League 1 game 4-2 at home to Barnet yesterday.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time thanks to a couple of early strikes, Boro were also dealt a first-half blow when Tyler Reading went off injured, leaving defender Jack Jones to go in goal for the remaining hour.
Despite that Stevenage improved as the half went on and saw two Dipo Akinyemi strikes ruled out for offside, but that only gave the hosts hope with Robbie Sweeney looking particularly lively for Boro.
Once Akinyemi did pull one back minutes into the second half, it was pretty much one-way traffic with the same player then equalising with a curling shot after Ryan Johnson did superbly to intercept a long throw and find the striker.
Nathan Kerr saw a shot blocked, Jack Storer twice fired over, Akinyemi saw a dangerous cross zip across goal without finding anyone and sub Jamie Sylvester saw a goal ruled out for offside as Stevenage launched wave after wave of attack on the Barnet final third.
Storer was looking more influential as the game went on and it was from his deep cross that Kerr tucked home to make it 3-2, to complete the turnaround.
Louis Yamfam wrapped things up with a late fourth – winning and then scoring a penalty after a marauding run from right-back saw the sub bundled over inside the area.
Stevenage: Reading (Yamfam), Jones, Smyth, Johnson, trialist, Casey, Kerr, Storer, Millard, Sweeney (Sylvester), Akinyemi (Bruce)
After the game Head of Youth Darren Sarll told us, “They never cease to amaze me this group. I think it’s a real good opportunity to reinforce that when they are themselves, when they are Stevenage and the blueprint that we give them, nobody lives with them. Everton didn’t and Barnet in the second half today couldn’t live with them.
“Even if we’d lost the game today 2-1 would I still have been happy with the performance? Yes. I thought they were brilliant second half and devastatingly penetrative. Even when Jack Jones, an outfield player, has to go in goal I don’t think they had a shot after that!
“I’m very much an aggressive, front-footed man. I want the boys to have that mentality whether it’s training, a five-a-side game or a full game. I was disappointed with the start but when Louis Yamfam coming onto the pitch, he endorsed that philosophy of play that I demand and he triggered every one of his team-mates off.
“Even when we were 2-0 down we could have been 5-2 up! They literally had two chances and took them very well, admittedly, but we could have been ahead.
“My message at half-time was quite caveman-like. It was ‘if you take your chances, you’ll win this game!’ When I meant chance I also meant showing that you can defend from crosses, defend compact and showing that you can win the ball high. Even from the first kick you could see the boys really went for it and gave it a good go.
“Dipo took his chance really well and could have had a third when he went wide and tried to roll it across goal, which is great that he’s still got others in mind. Nathan’s goal was very good and then Louis won and scored the penalty.
“I liked seeing two players arguing over the penalty. Taking one takes a certain type of person and when you’ve got more than one of those, I like that. Why should we just have one that everyone goes ‘no, that’s you’. I like it that they (Akinyemi and Yamfam) had a little scrap over it and then it focused Louis to make sure he scored.”