Two stunning strikes, including a goal from inside his own half from Jerome Okimo saw Stevenage come from behind to win 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon this afternoon.
A George Francomb header gave the Dons a half-time lead but Stevenage came out fighting in the second half. Jamille Matt curled home exquisitely from the edge of the box to equalise before Okimo’s free-kick bounced over ‘keeper Ben Wilson for a freak strike.
Stevenage manager Teddy Sheringham made four changes to his starting XI - three enforced - with Jamie McCombe, Jerome Okimo, Jamille Matt and Callum McFadzean coming in for Fraser Franks, Connor Ogilvie, Armand Gnanduillet and Ben Kennedy.
The game began with a couple of deep crosses causing problems for both teams with home ‘keeper Ben Wilson gathering an Okimo cross at the second attempt on two minutes and Dean Wells heading a deep Bulman cross behind at the other end a minute later.
Callum McFadzean, making his first appearance for Stevenage, got in on the action on six minutes when he picked up the ball in midfield and drove at goal, only to see his shot deflect behind off a Stevenage player for a goal-kick.
Jerome Okimo blocked a far post header from a ninth minute Wimbledon corner as the hosts rarely threatened otherwise for much of the half, with Stevenage enjoying some decent periods of possession.
Centre-half Karleigh Osborne saw yellow on the quarter-hour for clipping Pett as he threatened to latch onto a great flick from Matt and 10 minutes later Cox won a free-kick 25 yards out, setting a chance up for Tonge. The midfielder stepped up and curled a placed effort around the wall but Wilson got across well to turn behind and prevent the ball nestling in the bottom corner.
Full-back Callum Kennedy went down for lengthy treatment soon afterwards and once play resumed it was Stevenage again who responded the best.
Great footwork by Pett saw the midfielder turn in the box and fire in a low effort which Wilson just about gathered with Matt inches away from getting onto the loose ball. Moment later Pett was at it again, heading over from Henry’s cross as the chances came and went for Boro.
Lyle Taylor saw a 35th minute effort, set-up by an Akinfenwa dummy, bounce comfortably into Day’s arms as the Dons rarely threatened. Even when they did Boro looked to counter effectively with one ball forward seven minutes from the break seeing Wilson rushing out to head clear with Pett bearing down on him. McFadzean tried a first time shot, Matt stuck out a foot and the chance was gone. Had it been taken it would have needed exquisite technique.
A minute later another similar opportunity came Boro’s way. This time Matt beat the outrushing Wilson to the ball and was forced wide, only to see his effort from a tight angle roll across goal.
Heading into the final five minutes of the half and AFC Wimbledon finally began to find their rhythm up top. Lyle Taylor got into the box and pulled the ball back behind Akinfenwa, as one chance went. Then on 42 minutes a good flick from Akinfenwa found Francomb bursting through, but the winger was adjudged to have fouled Okimo as he tucked the ball home past Day and Boro got a free-kick.
A minute later though the hosts did break the deadlock. Good approach play down the left by the Dons saw the ball swung in by Bulman and in came George Francomb with the flying header at the back post to head Wimbledon into the lead.
A goal down, Stevenage came out with renewed purpose in the second half and once Armand Gnanduillet was introduced to the action six minutes after the break, the visitors dominated much of the rest of the game.
With Gnanduillet operating up top with Matt and Pett moving out wide, it gave Boro two big units up top and within minutes of his introduction, the Frenchman had a driving run and shot which deflected wide. Dean Wells headed the resulting set piece onto the roof of the net.
On 56 minutes Stevenage drew level and in some style. Great build-up play by Pett, Okimo and Matt saw the big front man get the ball on the corner of the box, look up and curl an absolute beauty into the far top corner to equalise.
The momentum was firmly with Boro now and minutes after pulling level they nearly took the lead after an almighty goalmouth scramble, but the Dons somehow survived.
Stevenage continued to look comfortable with their back four easily mopping up anything that came their way on rare counter-attacks by the hosts. One Wimbledon attack saw Boro handed a 74th minute free-kick just inside their own half, from which they took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Jerome Okimo pumped the ball forward, Paul Robinson heard a shout from his ‘keeper but Wilson misjudged the bounce and the ball went over him and nestled in the far corner for Stevenage’s second goal this season from their own half.
With the lead now theirs, Stevenage saw out the rest of the half expertly with Gnanduillet and Matt continuously causing havoc up top. Gnanduillet saw a 76th volley parried out for a corner, Whelpdale headed over from a Tonge corner and Cox nearly sealed the win with a fierce 86th minute striker that Wilson turned over.
AFC Wimbledon simply had no answer to Stevenage’s dominant display as the visitors took their third consecutive win and extended their recent unbeaten league run to five games. The next game sees Boro host Accrington Stanley at The Lamex Stadium and tickets can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
AFC Wimbledon: Wilson, Kennedy, Robinson, Osborne, Meades, Bulman, Reeves, Rigg (Azeez 58), Francomb, Taylor, Akinfenwa (Elliott 73)
Subs not used: McDonnell, Fitzpatrick, Sweeney, Kaja, Toonga
Stevenage: Day, Henry, McCombe, Wells, Okimo, Tonge, Cox, Whelpdale, Pett, McFadzean (Gnanduillet 51), Matt
Subs not used: Crowe, Gorman, Conlon, Lee, Hughes, Johnson
Referee: N Kinseley
Attendance: 3,846 (282 away)