A Matt Godden hat-trick ensured Stevenage got back to winning ways at home with a comfortable 3-1 win against Newport County this afternoon.
Two typically composed finishes by Godden in the first half gave Boro a good half-time lead and when Ben Kennedy won a penalty on the hour, he blasted the ball home for a 10th goal of the season. Sub Dan Butler scored a late consolation for County but Stevenage dominated this game and fully deserved all three points.
Steve Schumacher came in for Michael Tonge in the only change to Darren Sarll’s starting XI, with a place on the bench also for Spurs forward Ryan Loft, who has signed on loan until the end of the season.
Stevenage came out of the blocks flying and went close after six minutes when Walker found Kennedy, but the Northern Irish Under-21 international fired wide of the far post.
However Boro took the lead before the 10-minute mark in relative simple fashion. Steve Schumacher won a good tackle 25 yards out and one touch released Godden, who finished coolly into the far corner for 1-0.
Boro kept up the pressure and won numerous corners as they hassled the Newport defence all afternoon. Tyler Walker was the next to go close when he stung Day’s hands with a fierce drive.
Pett fired straight at Day after a driving run down the left and then Kennedy shot tamely at the ‘keeper as Boro continued to create chances in the opening 25 minutes, although the hosts were given a reminder of their recent defensive frailties when Mark O’Brien headed a free header wide from a corner.
With half-time approaching, Stevenage got the second goal their play deserved on 42 minutes and it was all down to the persistence of Ben Kennedy. He closed down ‘keeper Joe Day who was right in the corner attempting to shepherd the ball out for a goal-kick, robbed him of possession and found Godden superbly. The striker turned and fired home via the head of a Newport defender for a comfortable half-time lead.
Tom Pett saw a fierce drive palmed away by Day as Boro continued where they left off at the start of the second half.
On the hour Ben Kennedy worked his way into the box and was fouled, handing the hosts a penalty. Godden took charge and after a brief delay, coolly fired home to register his first Stevenage hat-trick and his 10th goal of the season.
Newport threw on Marlon Jackson and the striker would go on to prove the visitors’ most attacking threat in the latter stages of the game. He won a 67th minute corner from which a County header landed on the roof of the net. A neat turn three minutes later saw a chance on goal but Jamie Jones made a simple save.
Charlie Lee replaced Steve Schumacher and Ryan Loft came on for his debut in Walker’s place as Boro opted for fresh legs. The departure of Matt Godden with seven minutes remaining saw The Lamex rise to its feet in ovation for the hat-trick hero.
Dan Butler pulled a goal back on 88 minutes when he converted a Jackson cross from the right, but Boro had the game sewn up despite four minutes of added time.
A much-needed victory at home will give Stevenage confidence ahead of two long-distance away trips to Plymouth and Hartlepool over the coming weeks. Tickets for both those games and Boro’s next home game against Grimsby Town can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, King, Franks, Ntlhe, Pett, King, Schumacher (Lee 66), Kennedy, Walker (Loft 74), Godden (Cowans 83)
Subs not used: Day, McAnuff, Wilkinson, Tonge
Newport County: Day, Barnum-Bobb (Reid 71), Randall, Myrie-Williams (Butler 3), Tozer, Bennett, Pipe, Nelson, O’Brien, Williams, Gordon (Jackson 54)
Subs not used: Bittner, Owen-Evans, Wood, Meite
Attendance: 2,185 (140 away)
Referee: Rob Lewis