Stevenage fell to an opening day defeat in Sky Bet League Two this afternoon as second half goals from Crewe Alexandra secured a 2-1 win for the Railwaymen.
Veteran Ryan Lowe and youngster Alex Kiwomya did the damage for the visitors as Boro failed to show the kind of promising form they had displayed throughout pre-season, despite Charlie Lee firing in a late consolation.
After last weekend’s convincing 4-1 win over MK Dons it was unsurprising to see Darren Sarll named an unchanged starting XI. The only change came on the bench where Rowan Liburd returned from injury to replace Nathan Kerr.
The opening exchanges were fairly even and it took until the 14th minute for a sniff at goal when a cross from the left from Fraser Franks missed everyone but bounced off the top of the crossbar.
A minute later Charlie Lee advanced towards the edge of the area and fired in a low shot at Garratt and you sensed that Boro would kick on. However Crewe would prove to be decent opponents on their return to the division and with defences seemingly on top there was little in the way of goalmouth action for the rest of the first half, bar a late chance for visiting left-back Bakayogo which went wide.
Stevenage looked to come out firing in the second half and a ball over the top on 50 minutes by Conlon found Godden, only for the striker’s shot to be deflected wide.
That started a hectic five minute spell which saw chances at either end. First Crewe’s George Cooper saw a fierce drive fly just wide of Jones’ left-hand post, before a cross from Conlon found Lee at the back post but Garratt made a wonderful block. Jones then had to show great reactions to parry a fierce shot and pounce on the rebound with two Alexandra players straight on him.
The breakthrough came on 63 minutes and from a familiar foe. A ball through the middle from sub Alex Kiwomya saw Ryan Lowe through on goal and he slotted it underneath the onrushing Jones to put Crewe ahead.
A goal up, the visitors were suddenly looking a real threat and only a string of stunning saves from Jamie Jones after efforts from Kiwomya and Guthrie prevented the scoreline increasing.
Michael Tonge fired inches over the bar with a sweetly hit volley with 13 minutes remaining, but minutes later the visitors broke to devastating effect to double their advantage. With an assist already to his name, Kiwomya ran at the Boro defence and looked to be well marshalled by Dean Wells. However great footwork saw the Chelsea loanee leave two defenders for dead and then curl the ball home beautifully into the far corner for an outstanding individual effort.
Stevenage pushed forward in the closing stages but couldn’t find a breakthrough until it was almost too late – Charlie Lee firing home low into the far corner during three minutes of injury time.
An opening day defeat is just the first game of a long league season and the consolation for Darren Sarll’s men is that there is no time to mope about this result, with a trip to Ipswich Town next up on Tuesday evening in the EFL Cup First Round.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Wells, Franks (Fox 80), Conlon (Kennedy 69), Lee, Tonge, McAnuff, Hyde (Liburd 59), Godden
Subs not used: Day, Pett, Gorman, McKee
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie, Davis, Lowe (Ray 82), Jones, Dagnall, Cooper (Kiwomya 62), Bakayogo, Bingham, Kirk (Ainley 62)
Subs not used: Richards, Saunders, Udoh, Ng
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 2,544 (316 away)