With Halloween a few days away, Stevenage survived a fright against Fulham U21s with a penalty shootout victory over Fulham to wrap up their Leasing.com Trophy Group Stage campaign...
Charlie Carter’s first half header looked to set Boro on their way to a comfortable victory over what appeared to be an overmatched Fulham side, but a strong second half from the visitors had Stevenage on the backfoot throughout. Just when it looked like Sampson’s side had got away with it, Timmy Abraham headed home from close range to send the tie through to penalties.
After being one of the heroes on Saturday in his first league game, Bastien was once again Stevenage’s main man as he played a spectacular second half before saving a crucial Whites penalty to add a further 2 points to Boro’s Leasing.com tally, taking it to 5. Wycombe Wanderers will need to win both their remaining games in the group to deny Boro qualification.
Mark Sampson named seven changes from the side that beat Morecambe on Saturday as Sacha Bastien, Dean Parrett, Kelland Watts and Tyler Denton were the only players to keep their place, with Charlie Carter, Joel Byrom, Emmanuel Sonupe, Noor Husin, Arthur Iontton, Craig Mackail-Smith and Michael Timlin coming into the side.
During the Stevenage enjoyed the majority of possession and territory against a young Fulham team. It took until 18 minutes though for the first shot on goal to be registered, as Michael Timlin struck Mackail-Smith’s lay-off over the bar.
There was a scare two minutes later, as Carvalho broke through the Boro defence before feinting inside and sending Bastien the wrong way. Thankfully for the Stevenage fans in the stands, the goal was ruled offside.
Another two minutes later, Mackail-Smith was next to try his luck as he fired over the bar from the edge of the box but on 34 minutes, Charlie Carter made it count as he headed home from Joel Byrom’s free-kick to put Stevenage ahead.
Parrett should have doubled Boro’s advantage shortly after, when he was played in on goal after a deft lobbed pass put him one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his rash effort flew high into the South Stand seats.
At half-time, Parrett was replaced by Cowley and 10 minutes later, Rollinson came on for Carter.
The second half was far from a stroll as Fulham had the better of the play by far. Bastien was forced into a number of superb stops as De La Torre, Hilton and Carvalho all had shots denied inside the opening 20 minutes of the half.
Kelland Watts had a goal of his own disallowed on 64 minutes and then with 15 minutes to go, he denied Taylor-Crossdale with a last-ditch block that appeared destined to level the scores. Stevenage’s final change saw Emmanuel Sonupe replaced by Jamie Fielding and there was a further scare on 81 minutes as Taylor-Crossdale was again denied by a goalline block, this time by Iontton who put his body on the line in the nick of time.
Then, in added time, Abraham headed in from close range to send the match to penalties, where goals from Mackail-Smith, Cowley, Byrom and Watts scored to give Stevenage a superb chance of making it through to the knockout stages of the competition.