Stevenage continued their recent encouraging form with a fine 2-1 home win against Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.
First half goals from Connor Ogilvie and Chris Whelpdale did the damage against the Pilgrims, who despite halving the deficit in the second half and piling on the pressure, couldn’t find an equaliser as Boro held firm in a good team display.
Teddy Sheringham was forced into a number of changes for today’s game. With Jesse Joronen, Dale Gorman and Ryan Johnson all on international duty, the manager recalled Chris Day and gave loanees Connor Smith and Tom Hitchcock their first starts, with Dipo Akinyemi and Brett Williams both dropping to the bench.
With it being Kids Takeover here at The Lamex Stadium our Mini Manager Kai (9) also picked his own starting XI before the team sheets were exchanged, with his selection only showing one change from the actual line-up as he should a good early eye for management.
A frantic start to the game saw pressure on both goals before Stevenage broke the deadlock after just six minutes. Good build-up play by Parrett and Lee on the edge of the box created options for Boro and when the ball was played through for Connor Ogilvie, the on-loan Spurs left-back finished well with a placed finish.
A goal to the good Boro were attacking at will, dominating midfield and constantly probing the Pilgrims back line. Pett and Parrett were causing problems before Whelpdale saw a low drive hit the post and go out.
Plymouth created a couple of half-chances, notably when former Boro man Peter Hartley curled wide from the edge of the box, before Boro should really have doubled their lead on the half hour.
A ball down the touchline by Ogilvie was collected by Pett, who returned the pass to the left-back surging forward. Connor advanced to the byline and pulled the ball back for an incoming Charlie Lee but, sliding, the midfielder saw his effort fly over from just 10 yards out when it looked easier to score.
At the other end Dean Wells had to be alert with a superb block after a great turn and volley by ex-Boro loanee Ryan Brunt and Graham Carey then shot wide, as the visitors briefly rallied.
However seven minutes before the break Stevenage struck again. Chris Whelpdale was in the thick of the action, doing superbly to block a clearance which fell kindly for Lee. The midfielder rode the desperate challenges of the Pilgrims defence and made his way into the box, cutting the ball back to Parrett, whose shot was going in but there was Whelpdale to make sure.
Brunt headed wide under pressure from the Stevenage defence as an impressive half from the hosts came to a close with Chris Day a virtual spectator.
Nine-year old visiting Director for the Day Sam told the crowd at the break that Plymouth had come back from deficits like this before, much to the delight of the visiting supporters. A double-sub saw Craig Tanner and Oscar Threlkeld enter the action from the restart and after a bright start the visitors halved the deficit nine minutes in the half. Sloppy play by Boro saw them lose possession and from a cross from the left, Tanner rose well to direct a header past Day, despite the desperate attempts by Hughes to clear.
Sensing a comeback, Argyle flooded forward and put Boro under some real pressure. Just two minutes had passed since the goal when Jake Jervis picked the ball up in the left channel, cut inside and unleashed a curling effort which Day turned behind at full stretch. The same player then latched onto a loose ball and powered towards goal, only to hit the side netting with Wells in close attention.
Goal scorer Whelpdale nearly found Hitchcock at the back post after doing superbly to collect a 61st minute cross-field ball and beat his man, before Boro should have well and truly been out of sight six minutes later when another golden chance presented itself.
This time it was Pett causing havoc on the opposite flank, wriggling free of his defender and cross in with his left foot. There was Charlie Lee, unmarked on the penalty spot but his spectacular volleyed attempt flew just wide.
Brett Williams and Jack Jebb came on with 20 minutes remaining to replace loanee Connor Smith and Charlie Lee, with Williams moving up top alongside Hitchcock.
Within two minutes Plymouth thought they’d equalised with a close range finish from a corner, only for referee Mr Sutton to blow his whistle for an infringement, much to the visitors’ frustration.
Jebb dragged a shot wide from 20 yards after more good work by the impressive Whelpdale before the fourth official indicated a minimum of six minutes added time, leading to bewilderment and some nerves around the ground.
In truth Boro did superbly to manage those six minutes, with Pett and Franks both winning corners to keep the pressure at the right end of the pitch and Dean Parrett showing some fancy footwork and good close-range control in the corners to kill time.
Jervis headed over Day’s bar in the final seconds of the game and with it went Plymouth’s chance of a late leveller.
A win takes an improving Boro up to 14th place in League 2. York City are our next visitors next weekend here at The Lamex. Tickets for that game can be purchased here.
Stevenage: Day, Franks, Hughes, Wells, Ogilvie, Smith (Jebb 69), Parrett, Lee (Williams 68), Whelpdale (Conlon 88), Pett, Hitchcock
Subs not used: Kettings, McCombe, Henry, Conlon, Jebb, Williams, Akinyemi
Plymouth: McCormick, Mellor, Sawyer, McHugh, Nelson, Hartley, Carey, Wylde, Jervis, Brunt, Boateng (T.Harvey 89)
Subs not used: C.Harvey, Cox, Purrington, Rooney, Threkleld, Tanner
Referee: Gary Sutton
Attendance: 3,560 (854 away)