Stevenage returned to winning ways once again on Saturday as two first half goals from James Ball made the difference against Crawley..
An injury inside the first minutes for Alex Revell allowed the midfield man to enter the fray, who made the most of his opportunity with two fine finishes from inside the box.
An entertaining game in which both sides created a whole host of chances, it was the home side who proved to be the more clinical in both boxes as Stevenage moved just three points away from the play-off places.
Dino Maamria named new two changes to the side that lost out to Cambridge the previous weekend. In came new signing Moses Makasi along with John Hunt for young midfielder Arthur Iontton and Northern Irishman Ben Kennedy.
After a quiet start to proceedings, the first real chance of the game fell to Alex Revell – matchwinner last time Stevenage played at home – as Steve Seddon got down the line before pulling the ball back for the striker. After a good first touch, his finish flew over the bar and into the South Stand. That would be his last action of the game as an innocuous looking injury forced the skipper off. Opportunity knocked for James Ball, as the former Stockport man came on in his place.
Crawley were next to come close. The dangerous Dominic Poleon with a low effort from the edge of the box that flew just wide of Farman’s far post.
After ghosting into the box to meet Hunt’s cross, Moses Makasi almost opened up the scoring in the 15th minute with a debut goal but his header landed the wrong side of the cross bar.
By this stage the game was really beginning to get going as both sides moved the ball through the thirds to create goalscoring chances. Crawley Captain John Payne sent a powerful strike on target from the edge of the box and despite there being plenty of wobble on the effort, Farman was able to get across and parry it away.
Arguably Stevenage’s most effective player throughout the half was James-Wildin from right-back. Constantly taking the game to his opposite markers and breezing past them at every opportunity, it was he that provided the assist for Ball’s opener. Another trademark run down the right and into the box before chopping the ball perfectly towards Ball to head home. Moments later that same combination almost paid off again but this time a Crawley man was in-position to head clear.
Boro were living dangerously though and only Dominic Poleon would know how he didn’t equalise on 30 minutes after the ball found him unmarked a few yards out from the goal. An untimely miss-kick for the striker allowed Cuthbert to get back and clear off the line.
Five minutes later, the Red Devils did make it count and it was Poleon who would make up for his previous error. Drilling in low from inside the box after somewhat cumbersome Stevenage defending allowed the away attackers to advance into the danger zone.
It could have been a nightmare end to the half for Steveage as Crawley almost caught Boro out on the break. Poleon again at the heart of things as he isolated Cuthbert before finding Palmer on the angle who forced a smart save out of Farman.
Instead, it turned into a dream. Ball slotting home from just a few yards out to make it 2-1 after Newton brought about a strong hand from Morris that only fell back into his path. Strong running from Masaki in the build-up as he drove Boro up the pitch before finding Newton out wide.
Straight out from the second half and Ball could have had his hat-trick. Skying his shot onto the A602 after being picked out at the back-post by the marauding Danny Newton. It was to be the best Stevenge chance of the half as Crawley put Boro’s defensive capabilities to the test.
Goalline scrambles were a feature of the second period as Crawley threw everything at the back-line. Farman was in top-form once again as he made a number of crucial saves, none-more important than his one-on-one with Sesay on 63 minutes and another one-on-one with Young on 84 minutes.
Newton had the chance to ice the game as six minutes of added time were awarded. A mazy run deep into the box before prodding his shot right into he arms of Morris.
In the end, Boro negotiated the added time well as they denied the visitors from any further chances as a crucial three points were earned following last weekend’s disappointment.