Two late goals handed Colchester United a 4-2 win at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon in the final home game of 2016.
After falling 2-0 behind inside the first 18 minutes thanks to a Brennan Dickenson header and Kurtis Guthrie penalty, Stevenage fought back and levelled through goals from Ben Kennedy before the break and Matt Godden just after it. Both sides went for the win in the final third of the game but again it was the visiting side which emerged victorious thanks to late goals from subs Chris Porter and Tarique Fosu.
Darren Sarll made just the one change from the Boxing Day defeat to Cambridge with Henry Cowans replacing Dale Gorman, who dropped to the bench. There was also a very welcome return among the subs for on-loan Nottingham Forest striker Tyler Walker after injury.
After a slow opening 12 minutes the game suddenly burst into life, with Boro creating a great chance to open the scoring. Ronnie Henry found Ben Kennedy down the right and then made the overlapping run past his man. Kennedy found his skipper who in turn fired in a cross for Godden, but his turn and low shot was saved smartly by Sam Walker who then pounced on the loose ball.
However moments later Boro were made to pay for more defensive hesitancy. A Colchester corner was swung in and despite a host of players falling to the ground, Brennan Dickenson was free to head the visitors into the lead.
Godden headed a Schumacher free-kick over and Kennedy fired over as Boro looked for an immediate response, only for Colchester to double their advantage on 18 minutes. Kurtis Guthrie got between Boro’s central defenders, held off a challenge of Wilkinson and then went down under pressure from Jamie Jones. Referee Horwood awarded a penalty and Guthrie dusted himself down before sending Jones the wrong way from the spot.
Godden saw a shot deflect behind on 23 minutes but Boro went close to conceding a third on the half-hour when Brindley fired just wide after two backheels in the area had bamboozled the home defence.
Gradually Stevenage managed to get control of the ball and start creating chances and as usual Matty Godden was at the heart of everything. He forced a Colchester defender to concede a corner 10 minutes before the break and moments later latched onto a Kennedy pass but shot over.
Denny Johnstone curled just wide on 36 minutes before Godden was denied two minutes later when he latched onto a bouncing ball and ran at goal, only for Frankie Kent to get back to make the recovery challenge.
Six minutes before the break, Stevenage finally halved the deficit. Tom Pett won a free-kick out wide and when Schumacher swung in the delivery, a glancing header from Ben Kennedy beat Sam Walker for 2-1.
Boro could even have been level at the break when a Colchester clearance only fell as far as Henry Cowans, but the Villa loanee saw his shot deflect wide, with Luke Wilkinson heading the resulting corner at Walker.
Both sides opted to make a change at the break. Jobi McAnuff replaced Wilkinson with King slotting into the back four, whilst Chris Porter replaced Denny Johnstone up top for Colchester.
Porter nearly made an immediate impact when he collected a loose ball, cut inside Franks and shot but thankfully his effort curled wide.
Instead it was Boro who got back into the game and drew level through Godden on 50 minutes. The ball was fired into space just behind the defence and the striker did well to hold off his man and find the far corner.
The hosts were level but there was still plenty of danger about Colchester and Jamie Jones had to be smart to deny Porter one-on-one two minutes later.
At the other end Ben Kennedy saw two low shots gathered by Walker, who was also in the right place to smother a deflected Godden shot just past the hour.
Tyler Walker replaced Steve Schumacher for the final 18 minutes in an attacking change as Boro went for the win, but instead it was Colchester who struck twice in the closing stages to take all three points.
Jones again denied Porter inside the box on 77 minutes, but the ‘keeper was hopeless two minutes later when the striker stabbed home at the back post after the ball ricocheted around the Boro box.
Charlie Lee replaced the hardworking Cowans for the final six minutes but it was the visitors who continued to look more threatening. Defender Tom Eastman somehow worked his way into the Boro box but was denied by Jones, before sub Tarique Fosu rifled home an injury–time fourth to seal the win.
With Doncaster away on Monday, Stevenage simply have to turn their attention to the trip to the league leaders and hope to take their recent impressive performances on the road into 2017.
The next home game is next Saturday 7th January against Newport County and tickets for this game can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson (McAnuff 46), Franks, Ntlhe, Pett, Schumacher (Walker 72), King, Cowans (Lee 84), Kennedy, Godden
Subs not used: Day, Gorman, Tonge, Johnson
Colchester: Walker, Brindley (Doyley 92), Lapslie, Kent, Wright (Fosu 72), Dickenson, Elokobi, Johnstone (Poter 46), Eastman, Garvan, Guthrie
Subs not used: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Kamara
Referee: Graham Horwood
Attendance: 3,076 (652 away)