Stevenage secured all three points for the first time in over a month with a fine 2-1 home victory over high-flying Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon.
A freak goal from goalkeeper Jesse Joronen gave Boro a 1-0 lead at the break, with loan striker Armand Gnanduillet heading in a second on the hour. Wycombe’s Max Kretzchmar reduced the deficit with a thumping header of his own with 10 minutes remaining to leave a tense finish but Boro hung on to record their first win in eight games.
After both teams looked to push forward in the opening stages without too much in the way of chances, the game’s main talking point came with nine minutes on the clock. A ball back to Jesse Joronen saw the Fulham loanee boot the ball forward and although it initially looked a lost-cause, Wycombe ‘keeper Matt Ingram found himself in no-man’s land and the ball flew over the despairing man in pink and into the back of the net for a freak, yet vital opening goal. The giant Finn became the first goalkeeper to score in the top four tiers of English football since November 2013.
Armand Gnanduillet was impressing on his home debut and was looking to link up with Ben Kennedy as often as possible. However Boro’s attacking threat was dealt a blow on 23 minutes when Chris Whelpdale suffered a reoccurrence of a groin injury and was replaced by Tom Pett.
Wycombe got in behind Boro two minutes later but Jamie McCombe was there to clear and then just before the half hour Joe Jacobson saw a low free-kick deflect behind.
Ten minutes before the break a Boro free-kick gave the hosts an opportunity to flood the box. Dean Parrett – who had seen a free-kick fly straight in at Wycombe earlier this year – came close to repeating the feat but Ingram gathered as the ball came in and didn’t get a touch from anyone.
The Chairboys continued to enjoy possession but aside from a Jacobson corner that hit the bar – the ref had already blown for a foul on Joronen – they created little in the way of chances.
Instead it was Stevenage who went so close to doubling their lead two minutes before the break. Good persistence out wide by Okimo saw the left-back drive forward into the box and put a cross in for Gnanduillet, who readjusted his body and saw a good beat loop over Ingram but bounce onto the bar. The big Frenchman was at it again moments later, winning Boro a corner after good approach play by Pett and Kennedy released him inside the box.
Dean Parrett came mightily close to scoring Stevenage’s second seven minutes after the break when Boro hit Wycombe on the counter. Good work by Tom Conlon saw the ball played out for Okimo, whose cross was headed back across goal by Kennedy for Parrett, only for a last gasp challenge to clear the ball.
If that was an excellent intervention then Steven Schumacher bettered it five minutes later. A counter-attack by the Chairboys saw Thompson’s cross leave Joronen stranded and a stooping Wycombe player ready to head home only for the back-tracking skipper to put in an unbelievable goal-line clearance.
Just before the hour Marcus Bean saw yellow for pulling back the impressive Gnanduillet and from that free-kick Franks won a corner that was to prove pivotal. Dean Parrett went across to take it and his inswinging delivery was met by Gnanduillet who buried his header to notch his first Stevenage goal.
Wycombe responded with a double-sub five minutes later, throwing on the attacking Amadi-Holloway and Harriman, with Brett Williams also replacing Ben Kennedy for Stevenage. The changes spurred the visitors on and they put Boro under intense pressure for the final 20 minutes in particular.
Joronen was forced into a low save with his legs after a scramble in the Boro box on 77 minutes, before the Chairboys pulled one back – almost inevitably you felt – with 10 minutes let when Max Kretzschmar buried a Harriman cross with a header of his own to give Wycombe hope.
Sub Ryan Sellers headed straight at Joronen from another Harriman cross as chances came and went for Wycombe. Thompson headed over from a Sellers cross and Harriman fired wide as Stevenage held out for five minutes of added time to secure a morale-boosting victory.
Next up for Teddy Sheringham’s men is a trip to Portsmouth on Tuesday night where Boro will be hoping to make it three games unbeaten.
Stevenage: Joronen, Franks, McCombe, Hughes, Okimo, Schumacher, Parrett, Whelpdale (Pett 23), Kennedy (Williams 65), Conlon, Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Day, Kerr, Smyth, Jebb, Loza
Wycombe: Ingram, Jombati, Pierre, McCarthy, Jacobson, Bean (Sellers 76), Kretzschmar, Bloomfield (Harriman 65), O’Nien, Thompson, Ugwu (Amadi-Holloway 64)
Subs not used: Lynch, McGinn, Rowe
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 3,292 (743 away)