Stevenage dominate but are hit twice in the last seven minutes to lose against Exeter
Stevenage fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Exeter City this afternoon after the Grecians struck twice in the last seven minutes at The Lamex Stadium.
Despite Boro dominating large portions of the game and creating chances regularly, plus seeing a penalty awarded in their favour before being overturned, Exeter hit their hosts on the counter twice in quick succession to grab all three points.
Darren Sarll made two enforced changes to his starting XI with Tom Conlon and Lee Cox coming in for the injured Charlie Lee and Dean Parrett. There was also a welcome return to the bench for Ben Kennedy after a knee injury which had kept him out since January.
Stevenage started the game in dominant form, picking up where they left off at Carlisle with Tom Pett looking particularly bright. It took until the 11th minute for a shot to be registered though when Tom Conlon burst through the middle and got a shot away but Bobby Olejnik saved.
David Wheeler saw a shot saved comfortably by Jamie Jones at the other end and that was pretty much it for the Grecians in the first half as they spent much of the half in their own half, unable to cope with Boro’s high pressing game.
However as at Brunton Park last week, Stevenage were forging chances of their own but not getting the reward. Pett went on a mazy dribble at goal on 17 minutes but could only fire straight at Olejnik. Then the winger went on another great run but Ryan Hedges' shot from the resulting cross was blocked.
Hedges twice went close again before the half hour, first drifting a shot over the bar and then seeing a flick from Ogilvie’s cross gathered by the ‘keeper.
Even Luke Wilkinson was getting involved, twice striding forward from midfield after stepping out and intercepting. His first shot rose onto the scoreboard way above the away fans but his second on 43 minutes was on target, forcing Olejnik into a fine low save.
After a goalless first half the second looked to have got off to a positive start for Stevenage went Tom Conlon went down in the box and referee Whitestone pointed to the spot. However after consultation with his assistant on the far side, he overruled his decision and instead cautioned Conlon for simulation, much to the disbelief of most at The Lamex.
Despite that the second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with Stevenage enjoying plenty of possession in the Exeter half and constantly probing the Grecians defence.
On 64 minutes Fraser Franks thought he’d scored from close range after Michael Tonge’s corner fell at his feet, but somehow his shot bounced just wide. A minute later substitute Aaron O’Connor let fly from 20 yards but his deflected effort was turned over in style by Olejnik.
Both sides made changes with Exeter introducing winger Lee Holmes and striker Jayden Stockley and Stevenage welcoming back Ben Kennedy from injury and Adam Marriott for his first appearance at home since January last year.
Still Boro pushed forward however seven minutes from time, Exeter struck. Alex Nicholls was given time down the right and from his cross, Stockley headed home. To compound matters O’Connor limped off injured, leaving the hosts with 10 men for the final minutes.
Six minutes of added time were signalled during which Stevenage tried desperately to make something happen, only to twice get hit on the break with numbers forward. From the first swift counter the assistant’s offside denied the Grecians, but from the second break Stockley swept home a second to seal all three points for Exeter.
Next up for Stevenage is Portsmouth at home next Saturday. Tickets for this game can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Franks, Ogilvie, Cox, Conlon (Marriott 80), Tonge, Pett, Harrison (O’Connor 63), Hedges (Kennedy 70)
Subs not used: Day, Wells, Johnson, Gorman
Exeter: Olejnik, Butterfield (Brown 65), Woodman, Noble (Holmes 57), Ribeiro, Harley, Oakley, Nicholls, Moore-Taylor, Reid (Stockley 69), Wheeler
Subs not used: McAllister, Pym, Taylor, Oyeleke
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 2,812 (253 away fans)