Stevenage fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Mansfield Town in a disappointing night at The Lamex Stadium.
After the first half saw defences on top and both goalkeepers making good saves, the second saw the Stags strike twice in a matter of minutes just after the break to take a commanding lead. Teddy Sheringham threw on Ben Kennedy and Dipo Akinyemi in an attempt to change the game but Mansfield stood firm to register a good away win.
Stevenage made two changes from the weekend’s last-gasp defeat at Cambridge with Charlie Lee missing through injury and Tom Pett dropping to the bench. In their places came Brett Williams up top and Tom Conlon, with Ben Kennedy named among the subs for the first time this season after surgery over the summer.
In a half of few clear-cut chances but plenty of endeavour, both sides actually carved out opportunities in the opening minutes. After Matt Green had sliced wide inside 60 seconds, good work by Henry and Whelpdale created Boro’s first chance of the half moments later when Tom Conlon’s diving header was superbly turned out by Brian Jensen.
The visitors enjoyed the majority of the possession in the first half and regularly probed the Boro back line but Stevenage stood firm. With the hosts unable to get any meaningful possession up top, despite the constant harassing by Tom Hitchcock, the ball continued to come straight back at them and eventually the chances came.
Indeed the Stags will be disappointed not to have gone into the half-time break ahead after being presented with two glorious opportunities in the minutes approaching half-time. First Jesse Joronen was called into action, saving from Craig Westcarr after a poor pass from Jebb was latched onto by the striker. Then moments later, with Boro failing to clear after pinball in the box, Benning blasted over.
Two minutes of injury time were signalled in which Chris Whelpdale created a chance for himself, only to fire straight at Jensen after cutting inside from the right flank.
Connor Smith replaced Jebb at the break but within minutes Boro were behind as Mansfield took the lead. A corner from the left saw the ball swung in and Ryan Tafazolli rose highest to power a header home for 1-0.
Before Boro could react properly they conceded once again. This time a quick free-kick saw Westcarr get behind the static defence, giving the striker time to square for the incoming Jack Thomas to slam home to double the lead and leave Stevenage with a real mountain to climb.
Smith went close with a low drive of his own before the crowd rose to their feet to welcome back Ben Kennedy on the hour – the youngster returning from summer surgery to replace Chris Whelpdale.
Tom Hitchcock and Reggie Lambe both saw yellow as the latter overacted to a late challenge from the former, with referee Kettle on hand to prevent things boiling over.
Benning again went close for the Stags with a low drive before a wayward touch from Hughes let in Green with 18 minutes remaining, but there again was Joronen to save and Hughes got back to clear.
After showing some neat touches on his return, Kennedy almost turned provider for sub Dipo Akinyemi courtesy of a lovely ball over the top on 83 minutes, but the youngster fired wide at the second attempt and you sensed the chance for the comeback was perhaps gone for the day.
Schumacher fired over from 20 yards as the fourth official signalled five minutes of injury time which Mansfield, helped by returning former striker Chris Beardsley, saw out well with a couple of subs to claim a good away win.
After enjoying an unbeaten run of four games at the start of the month, Stevenage’s fortunes have changed in the past three weeks with three successive defeats. However with two home games within the next week there is plenty of opportunity for the men in white and red to turn performances around in front of a boisterous home support and really kick-start Boro’s season.
Tickets for Saturday’s game against Carlisle and our Football for a Fiver offer v Dagenham in next Wednesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie can be bought now at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Joronen, Henry, McCombe, Hughes, Johnson, Whelpdale (Kennedy 59), Schumacher, Jebb (Smith 46), Conlon (Akinyemi 72), Hitchcock, Williams
Subs not used: Day, Franks, Pett, Wells
Mansfield: Jensen, Benning, Pearce, Chapman, Green (Beardsley 91), Westcarr (Collins 89), Tafazolli, Hunt, Lambe, Thomas, McGuire
Subs not used: Shearer, Marsden, Thomas, Blair, Yussuf
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 2,509 (163 away)