This one was for the fans...
A stunning second half Ben Kennedy strike was enough to earn Stevenage a well-battled three points on a crisp Saturday afternoon in Cumbria.
Dino Maamria named the same starting line-up and substitutes from the win at home to Grimsby last Saturday as Birmingham City loanee Steve Seddon kept his place at left-back, looking to build on his match-winning performance from the previous game.
Stevenage started the game the brighter of the two teams, getting the ball forward quickly and creating chances. The first of the game came via Alex Revell out wide on the right, whipping in a superb ball for last season’s top scorer, Danny Newton who came inches away from making a connection and turning the ball home.
Down the other end, Carlisle were growing in confidence and should have took the lead. Being the home side, they were sure to see plenty of the ball, and so it proved as the Cumbrians began to dominate proceedings for a short spell. Only a miraculous block from Luther James-Wildin denied the hosts from a few years out as Boro rode some sustained Carlisle pressure.
The visitors would then be back up the other end, with two golden chances within a matter of minutes. Firstly, great link-up play from Emmanuel Sonupe and Alex Revell set up Danny Newton on the edge of the box, but the Carlisle ‘keeper was there to make an impressive stop.
Minutes later, Newton was involved again, this time in the build-up. The forward picked the ball up on the halfway line and moved forward with one of his trademark powerful runs, before setting it to Joel Byrom. Stevenage’s number eight slid in Alex Revell for a chance that was sure to see the visitors in front, but the opposing stopper was there once again to deny the lead.
After ending the half strongly, Stevenage would enter the tunnel somewhat disappointed with the score level.
The second half started as the first half ended, with Boro on top. Half-hearted appeals for a penalty were heard when Revell went down under pressure in the box, but the referee wasn’t interested.
Stevenage got the goal they deserved 10 minutes into the second period, when a characteristic Ben Kennedy shot hit the top corner. Joel Byrom picked the ball up on the edge of the box with an excellent touch and skill to tee up Kennedy, as the young Northern Irish forward curled the ball past the Carlisle ‘keeper. Boro were in front and looked good for their lead.
Carlisle almost hit back immediately. Jamie Devitt once again was provider with a curlfing cross, but Adam Campbell’s effort struck the post before hitting Seny Dieng and going out of play.
As the game continued, the hosts piled on the pressure, but Boro stood firm. Scott Cuthbert and co made life difficult for Carlisle.
For the final 10 minutes, there were 21 players camped in the Stevenage half as we stood strong and snuffed any potential equaliser threat.
Stevenage then almost put the game to bed. Substitute James Ferry found himself in the six yard box, and battling play from both Danny Newton and Alex Revell set up the midfielder, but he couldn’t keep it below the bar.
As the full-time whistle went, a deserved three points were confirmed from this long journey to Cumbria. That is now five wins and five clean sheets from the past ten games, as Stevenage moved up to fourth in the table.