Stevenage saw off a late rally from Newport County to record a 2-1 win at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon in Sky Bet League 2.
Two goals to the good thanks to headers from Charlie Lee and Bira Dembele, Boro were in a comfortable lead but a late Adam Chapman strike gave Newport hope and Chris Day produced a number of top saves to ensure the win.
The game took a while to get going as both teams looked to suss each other out, with Dean Parrett’s 30 yard free-kick over Joe Day’s bar the first real opportunity on 13 minutes.
That sparked Boro into life with the hosts looking to capitalise on some shaky Exiles defending. Dean Parrett forced Day into a save from a Pett cross and Beardsley was just unable to latch onto a Kennedy cross from the left, as Graham Westley's men pushed on.
The breakthrough came on the half hour and in some style, when Simon Walton’s corner was swung in for Charlie Lee to power home a header – his 8th of the season and his first since the home win over Cambridge in December.
The visitors responded with their best period of pressure of the half with Klukowski seeing a low cross scrambled away from Boro’s six yard box and Ryan Jackson putting in crosses from the right, but somehow the hosts stood firm and went into the break a goal up.
Newport came out all guns blazing in the second half and had three great chances to draw level within the opening five minutes alone. Inside 60 seconds Willmott tried to catch Day out with a quick turn and shot, but saw his effort fly over the bar. Moments later a mistake by Dembele let Storey through on goal but there was Day again with a big save to keep Boro ahead, with Klukowski then seeing a shot deflect over for a corner.
Stevenage recovered and should have doubled the advantage on 54 minutes when Kennedy showed great skill to take the ball past two into the box. Joe Day came out to block but only succeeded in clearing as far as Parrett who somehow blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
It wasn’t long though until the hosts extended their lead after Lee had charged forward on the counter and drawn a foul on the touchline. From the resulting 67th minute free-kick up rose Dembele to power home Ben Kennedy’s lofted cross for 2-0.
Keith Keane came on for his Boro debut to add more experience and steel to the Boro midfield and it was Stevenage who continued to look more likely to extend the lead further on the counter, with one 79th minute cross by Keane sliced inches wide of his own net by Ryan Jackson.
Newport threatened late on with Mark Bryne seeing an 85th minute shot from 20 yards parried behind by Day, with Feely heading over the resulting corner. They did then pull a goal back with two minutes remaining when a clearance from a corner fell to Adam Chapman, who smashed the ball home low.
That led to a nervy five minutes of injury time with the Exiles flooding forward and Boro showing all their defensive qualities to hold onto their lead. Day saved again brilliantly from Byrne’s low effort after Zebroski had caused chaos on the edge of the box, with the Newport sub then seeing red after a late, wild tackle on the excellent Dembele earned him a second yellow.
Stevenage hung on to record their third win in four and extend their unbeaten run to six, as the race for the playoffs continues in earnest. Next up for Stevenage are tough away games at Cambridge and Exeter with Dagenham the next here at The Lamex on Saturday 21st March. Tickets for those games are available here.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Wells, Dembele, Okimo, Pett, Walton, Parrett (Andrade 81), Lee, Kennedy (Bond 90), Beardsley (Keane 58)
Subs not used: Beasant, Ashton, D.Johnson, Conlon
Newport County AFC: Day, Jackson, Porter (Minshell 76), Jones, Yakubu (Feely 52), Chapman, Willmott, Klukowski (Zebroski 54), Storey, Tutonda, Byrne
Subs not used: Stephens, Sandell, Jeffers, Parker
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 2,941 (228 away)