A battling Stevenage side fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon in Sky Bet League 2.
Dayle Southwell scored the only goal of the game in first half stoppage time but Boro fought throughout and despite creating chances were thwarted by some resolute defending from their hosts.
After last weekend’s win over Crawley, manager Darren Sarll named an unchanged starting XI with the only changes coming on the bench. Steve Schumacher returned among the subs and there was also a new face with goalkeeper Callum Preston signing on non-contract terms as cover for the injured Chris Day.
Stevenage got off to a bright start at Adams Park and after some early pressure, created the game’s first real chance after nine minutes. Tom Pett robbed the advancing Harriman of possession just inside the Wycombe half and countered, sprinting into the box only for his shot to be straight at Jamal Blackman.
Wycombe were playing direct but Boro were easily cutting out any attacks, setting the visitors up on a number of counters. Matty Godden was in the thick of the action, seeing one cross from the right towards Ntlhe gathered by Blackman and the striker was then tripped on the counter by Dominic Gape, earning the midfielder a caution.
From that free-kick Michael Tonge tried to catch the ‘keeper out with a curling effort towards the near post, with Pett then cutting inside on the next attack but firing over.
Tyler Walker has been central to Boro’s attacking play in the past fortnight and he went close to breaking the deadlock here on 17 minutes. A neat flick from Godden released the Forest loanee and after racing into the box and cutting back onto his right foot, he could only curl just wide of the far post.
At the other end Jamie Jones was looking in commanding form, gathering any ball that came into the box, but he will have been relieved to see Matt Bloomfield’s effort from a tight angle hit the side-netting on the half hour.
Despite being second best thus far, Wycombe improved as the half progressed and created a number of chances approaching half-time. A fine finger-tip save from Jones prevented Michael Harriman’s 36th minute free-kick from finding the top corner and then Dayle Southwell had the first of three chances in quick succession on 43 minutes, but saw his shot bounce into the ground and wide of Jones’ post.
If that was a good chance then the former Boston United striker should definitely have finished the next, a minute into added time. A late run into the box behind an advancing Boro defence gave him all the time in the world but he could only side-foot straight at Jones.
It was to be third-time lucky though a minute later. Sam Wood looked slightly offside as he was found in space to the left of the box, but his cross-cum-shot was converted at the back-post by Southwell to give the hosts the half-time advantage.
Stevenage came out for the second half at a good tempo, forcing Wycombe back into their final third and it took a fine last-gasp challenge to prevent Pett from bursting into the box from a central position.
The hosts pushed forward but that just gave Boro chances on the counter. With 56 minutes on the clock a break down the right from Pett saw the winger cut inside and spot a brilliant run by Fox, who ran onto a clipped ball but could only volley wide.
Ben Kennedy soon came on and got straight into the action, dribbling down the right and swinging in a deep cross for Pett to head, but Blackman gathered.
Boro were pushing forward with some real momentum but they were thwarted each time with the hosts blocking and tackling everything. For all the crosses that the Wycombe ‘keeper was gathering, he wasn’t forced into much action from shots with the home defence standing firm, led by Pierre and Stewart.
Darren Sarll threw on Rowan Liburd for the closing minutes as Boro went all-out attack and it lead to some nervy moments in the Wycombe box but – bar an 89th minute shot from Walker which flew into the side netting – they just couldn’t force the equaliser.
Next up for Stevenage is the visit next Saturday of Exeter City. Tickets for this game can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Lee, Wilkinson, Franks, Ntlhe, Pett (McAnuff 75), King, Tonge (Liburd 84), Fox (Kennedy 57), Godden, Walker
Subs not used: Preston, Schumacher, Cowans, Kerr
Wycombe Wanderers: Blackman, Jombati, Stewart, Pierre, Harriman, Thompson, Bloomfield, Gape, Wood (Rowe 90), Hayes, Southwell (Cowan-Hall 77)
Subs not used: Richardson, McGinn, Akinfenwa, De Havilland, Kashket
Referee: Brendan Malone
Attendance: 3,181 (292 away)