Stevenage recovered from a goal deficit to put in one of their most confident performances of the season with a 4-1 away win at Morecambe this afternoon.
Despite a decent first 10 minutes from Boro, Chris Doyle gave the Shrimpers a 19th minute lead only for an own goal and a Dean Parrett strike to hand the visitors a half-time lead. The second half saw near dominance from Darren Sarll’s men with Parrett and Ben Kennedy adding to the score to complete an excellent afternoon’s work in Lancashire.
Darren Sarll made just the one enforced change from Tuesday night's draw against Bristol Rovers with Ben Kennedy replacing the injured Jake Mulraney. There were also returns to the bench for Ryan Johnson and Charlie Adams, with Keith Keane having returned to Cambridge United following the end of his loan spell.
It was a decent start by Stevenage but the hosts had the first real chance of the game on 14 minutes. A ball into the box deflected off Luke Wilkinson and fell to a Morecambe player who saw his looping shot bounce off the top of the bar and behind for a corner.
During that move Fraser Franks sustained a nasty head injury which resulted in several minutes of treatment and numerous bandages. That, combined with Aaron O’Connor also limping off injured minutes later, lead to a shaky few moments for the visitors and after a few minutes of possession, Morecambe took the lead on 19 minutes. A corner deep to the back post saw Jamie Jones turning a low shot over the bar and from the next corner, Chris Doyle saw a header somehow deflect into the back of the net.
The visitors fought back and so nearly equalised four minutes later when Roche parried a header from a Parrett corner and then Wilkinson saw his close-range effort blocked too.
Darren Sarll’s men continued to inch their way up the pitch but couldn’t find that breakthrough, with Ben Kennedy’s dinked effort from just inside the box on the half-hour going comfortably into Roche’s hands.
Tom Pett was getting more influential as the half progressed, winning one corner which was cleared and then on 37 minutes winning another from which Boro drew level. The ball was swung into the six-yard box and despite nobody in blue challenging, it hit a defender at the back post and flew past Roche.
The fourth official indicated six minutes of injury time at the end of the half and it was in this time that Boro turned the game on its head. Jamie Jones claimed a dangerous free-kick from Morecambe before finding Greg Luer with a big kick. The striker raced into the box and played the ball across for Dean Parrett to slide in, score and give Boro a half-time lead.
Morecambe made a half-time change but within five minutes of the second half, Boro were back on the attack. Stevenage won possession on the half-way line and Luer was played in down the right channel. He outmuscled his defender and ran at goal but could only fire over.
On 54 minutes Tom Barkhuizen got into the box, turned Dean Wells and took aim, only to fire over. It was to be a rare chance for the hosts and Stevenage simply turned the screw and bossed possession for the rest of the game.
Two minutes later Pett, Luer and Parrett were on the counter, three against three. After drawing the defenders Pett released Parrett on goal but the former was scythed down, with the referee blowing up for the foul rather than letting play continue, much to Boro’s frustration.
On 59 minutes Ronnie Henry whipped in a beauty of a cross from the right but Ben Kennedy couldn’t quite get his head to it. Moments later another cross was punched out by Roche but only as far as Parrett, who took a touch and fired it back the other way straight into the ‘keeper’s hands.
Charlie Lee came on for Luer just past the hour and that only strengthened the visitors' midfield, with Kennedy now up top on his own, supported by Pett and Conlon.
Still the chances came for Boro. Good approach play saw Parrett find Tonge on the edge of the box but he side-footed wide of the near post. It wasn’t long though until Stevenage had their third – Boro simply passed the ball around the Morecambe defence and Dean Parrett was there to smash home his second of the afternoon.
With four minutes remaining it became 4-1. Again it was a lovely counter-attack from Stevenage with Tom Pett running the length of the Morecambe half before playing Kennedy, who poked home for his first goal since the 3-3 draw at Exeter in October.
Despite a shaky few minutes in the first half this was a dominant performance by Stevenage who now head into their final two games of the season with confidence high. Next weekend it’s AFC Wimbledon at home and tickets can be bought at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Morecambe: Roche, Beeley (McGowan 46), Dugdale, Devitt, Barkhuizen, Ellison,Goodall, Wildig (Oliver 76), Doyle, Conlan (Molyneux 82), Stockton
Subs not used: Maher, McGowan, Mullin, Edwards
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Wells, Franks, Pett, Tonge, Parrett (Gorman 80), Kennedy, Luer (Lee 62), O’Connor (Conlon 19)
Subs not used: Day, Okimo, Johnson, Adams
Referee: O Langford
Attendance: 1,129 (92 away)