MATCH REPORT: STEVENAGE 1, CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2
A late Cambridge goal handed Stevenage a 2-1 Boxing Day defeat at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon.
Leon Legge’s bullet header gave the U’s a halftime lead but when Ben Kennedy curled home an equaliser seconds after the break, it led to an open second 45 minutes. Chances came and went for both sides but it was Piero Mingoia who struck with 10 minutes remaining to hand Cambridge all three points and their first win at Boro since 2007.
Darren Sarll made just the one change from the XI that started at Barnet with Ben Kennedy returning from injury to replace Rowan Liburd, who dropped to the bench.
Defences dominated the opening stages of the game with neither team registering an effort on goal until the 12th minute, when Uche Ikpeazu hooked a Cambridge corner towards goal, only for Jones to catch easily.
The giant striker turned and fired wide on the quarter hour but it wasn’t long until Boro started to really threaten with King heading straight at Norris and Gorman firing wide from distance.
With 20 minutes on the clock the U’s took the lead and in powerful, yet simple fashion. A corner from the right was swung in and skipper Leon Legge lost his marker and found the back of the net with a bullet header.
Almost immediately Will Norris denied Matt Godden from point-blank range and when Kennedy went down under a loose challenge, Boro fans cried for a penalty but were only given a corner.
Despite being a goal down Stevenage were trying to play football and several counter-attacks forward saw Boro awarded free-kicks when Cambridge players fouled. However whatever delivery Schumacher tried, the United defence was on top, with Norris also in good form between the sticks.
The former Royston Town ‘keeper stretched high to claim a Kennedy cross eight minutes before the break, but the Northern Irishman wasn’t to be denied moments into the second half.
Picking up possession out wide from a Schumacher free-kick, Ben inched his way to the corner of the penalty area but rather than curl towards the far post, his near-post effort caught Norris out and nestled into the back of the net.
It was the perfect start to the second half for Stevenage who then peppered the goal with efforts from Jack King and Dale Gorman, the latter of whom’s piledriver deflected away off a Boro head.
Despite being pegged back, Cambridge were still looking a threat with the dangerous Ikpeazu causing havoc and Luke Berry trying to get on the end of almost everything in and around the Boro box. He saw a free-header fly straight at Jones on 55 minutes, whilst 10 minutes later he saw another header beat Jones but crash back off the post and away.
It was a real end-to-end game with Norris the next into action with a fine save from Gorman’s effort. It was to be the youngster’s last involvement in the game, with Jobi McAnuff coming on to replace the Northern Irish Under-21 international.
A smiling Ben Kennedy went close with another curling effort as he constantly bamboozled the Cambridge backline, but just as you felt Boro were getting the upper hand, the U’s struck a fatal blow with nine minutes remaining.
A cross came into the Stevenage box and Jones went to gather, but could only palm it out into space, whether Piero Mingoia was waiting to gleefully slam home the loose ball for 2-1.
Sub Michael Tonge hit the wall and Kgosi Ntlhe dragged a shot well wide as Darren Sarll’s men pushed in the closing minutes and five minutes of added time, but just couldn’t find an equaliser.
The next chance to secure that elusive next home win comes on New Year’s Eve when Stevenage welcome Colchester United here in the final home game of 2016. Tickets for that game can be purchased now at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Wells, Ntlhe, Pett, Schumacher (Tonge 78), King (McKirdy 87), Gorman (McAnuff 71), Kennedy, Godden
Subs not used: Day, Liburd, Lee, Cowans
Cambridge: Norris, Taylor, Dunne, Roberts, Legge, Mingoia, Berry, Dunk (Maris 59), Ikpeazu, Newton (Clark 80), Halliday
Subs not used: Gregory, Dallison, Williamson, Long, Adams
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 3,957 (1,321 away)