REPORT: Stevenage 1-0 Barnet
Boro made it eight home wins on the spin with a 1-0 victory over Barnet that consolidated our place at the top of the play-off places in Sky Bet League Two.
Tom Pett’s early goal was enough for the three points as another clean sheet was recorded to extend our impressive recent defensive record.
Darren Sarll made just one change from the draw at Cambridge last time out, bringing back Ben Kennedy into the starting XI for Josh McQuoid. Tom Pett was a surprise inclusion after receiving a nasty injury to the leg last week whilst Jobi McAnuff was missing for a second game in a row.
It was a game of few chances but Barnet almost took the lead within the first minute, David Totonda forcing Day down low in order to deny his snap shot from six yards out. It was an early warning sign but in truth, it was one of the best opportunities the visitors had throughout the 90 minutes.
There was a fascinating battle between John Akinde and Luke Wilkinson brewing during the early exchanges. The big centre forward putting pressure on Wilkinson as he was chasing back towards goal, Wilkinson showing great composure to head into Day’s hands.
A few minutes later Boro took the lead. Ben Kennedy setting up Tom Pett from the edge of the box whose shot took a deflection, wrong footing the keeper and nestling into the net. A fortunate goal maybe but at this stage of the season, we’ll take it.
There was another injury blow after just 30 minutes, Ben Kennedy forced off early for Josh McQuoid, coming on much sooner than expected.
Chris Day once again proved his value to the club moments later with an outstanding save to deny Akinde. The striker was through on goal after a brilliant long pass from Bover but Day stood firm and got down well to palm the ball away from danger.
There were to be no more meaningful actions during the first half until right at the end, Charlie Lee with an unbelievable climb and header at the back post but his effort fell just wide of the sticks.
Stevenage came out the traps flying to start the second half, Matty Godden with two good chances that flew just past the post on both occasions.
The Bees threatened rarely throughout the second half but had two decent opportunities soon after. Akinola shot wide of goal from 25 yards before Akinde got his finish all wrong after the visitors broke quickly up the pitch.
Boro had a strong grip on the game during the second half, constantly pressing and probing, looking for a second goal. Schumacher could only blast over from inside a crowded penalty area but all the right questions were continuing to be asked.
In scenes similar to last week, parts of the second half felt more like a battle royale than a game of football. After the early Ben Kennedy injury, play had to be delayed twice as Charlie Lee and then Luke Wilkinson had to receive treatment following heavy challenges from the opposition.
Matt Godden continued to push hard for his usually customary goal but it wasn’t to be his day. After Pett threaded him through, the striker cut inside and found the bottom corner, only for the assistant to rule it out for offside.
Connor Ogilvie had one of the stand-out moments of the game with ten minutes to go, taking the ball from his own half past three of four Barnet players before being bundled over inside the box. At least that was our view, the referee not agreeing as he waved play on.
Fans were kept on the edge of their seats right until the end, five added minutes not helping the nerves but apart from a late Dembele header that went way over the bar, the Stevenage defence had things locked down once again.
Attendance: 3657 (748)
Stevenage: Day, Franks, King, Wilkinson, Ogilvie, Pett (Gorman 90+2'), Schumacher, Lee, Hinds (Ntlhe 72'), Kennedy (McQuoid 34'), Godden
Unused Subs: Preston, Tonge, Wells, Loft