Onto Cambridge on Saturday...
Stevenage posted three points in their first Checkatrade Trophy game of the season as they proved too much for their U21 opponents, Swansea City, running out 5-0 winners at the Lamex Stadium.
After a largely frustrating first half, two goals right before the break from Ben Kennedy helped break the deadlock before Kurtis Guthrie got in on the action with his first three goals for the club in the second half.
Dino Maamria named nine changes to the side that lost out to Yeovil on Saturday with Ben Kennedy and Michael Timlin the only survivors, as Dieng, Vancooten, Wilkinson, Nugent, Iontton, Ferry, Campbell-Ryce, Georgiou and Newton were all handed a starting berth.
It was clear from the off that Stevenage would dominate the contest as they enjoyed large spells of advanced possession against their youthful opponents.
It didn’t necessarily translate into a non-stop barrage of goalscoring chances though as it took almost 15 minutes for the first one to threaten the Swansea goal. James Ferry unable to keep his effort down as he struck a first-time volley towards goal following Campbell-Ryce’s cleared cross.
Dieng didn’t have much to do throughout the night but he was on his toes just a few minutes later as an over-hit Swansea cross had to be clawed away from the top corner.
Stevenage continued to push the Swans back as they tried to carve out an opening but it wasn’t quite coming off for Maamria’s men with either their final touch, shot or pass.
There was another scare moment for Stevenage inside the first half as Botti Biabi burst through on goal, only for Vancooten to get back in-time for a timely challenge at the vital moment.
It may have took until the final few minutes but Boro eventually got what they deserved right before the break with a quick-fire double that left the Swans reeling.
The first via a Kennedy penalty after Georgiou was tumbled over inside the box before Kennedy struck again, this time with an unstoppable volley from 20 yards out.
Neither side made any changes for the second half and it was Stevenage on the front-foot once again. Campbell-Ryce saw a well-hit effort deflect over a corner but despite the height and muscle advantage, the Swans were able to thwart an aerial threat.
Newton flicked wide of goal following good work from Timlin and Campbell-Ryce down the left and the introductions of Makoma and Guthrie almost paid immediate dividends as the latter forced a save out of Benda with a headed effort just minutes after entering the pitch.
The final substitution of the night came with 20 minutes to go as Emmanuel Sonupe replaced Ben Kennedy.
Kurtis Guthrie netted his first Stevenage goal with 20 minutes to go as he took charge from the spot following the second penalty award of the evening. More clever play between Campbell-Ryce and Timlin down the left-hand side resulted in the former Southend man being tripped up, leaving the way for Guthrie to dispatch the spot-kick.
Dieng would have one more chance to show why he was loaned into the club with a fine save as Swansea’s Evans had him scrambling down to his left from a sweetly struck free-kick.
Guthrie made it four as he smashed home a volley with 10 minutes to go and his night was only going to get better as he scored a superb fifth to complete his hat-trick.
It was truly the icing on the cake as he picked the ball up from just inside his own half, taking it all the way to goal before a delightful chipped finish that gave Benda no chance in goal.
A professional win from Stevenage as they get off to the perfect start in the Checkatrade Trophy whilst perhaps giving the Manager one or two headaches ahead of Saturday’s big derby at home to Camridge United.