Stevenage secured their first victory of the season in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night as Jason Cowley’s early header helped his team to a well-deserved three points...
It had been a long time coming for Boro after a nightmare start to the season, but Tuesday’s win over League One high-flyers Wycombe Wanderers may just give Sampson’s side the confidence needed to turn their campaign around.
The Caretaker Mananger named three changes to the side that lost out at Colchester on Saturday as Jamie Fielding, Arthur Iontton and Tyler Denton all returned to the team in place of Tom Soares, Ben Nugent and Ben Kennedy.
Boro got off to a bright start and had an opportunity to take the lead inside the opening minute. Jason Cowley digging out a cross for his strike partner Kurtis Guthrie, but his header flew over the bar and into the Terrace behind the goal.
Minutes later, Guthrie returned the favour as he swung in a cross for Cowley but this time, the young striker made it three goals in three starts with a brilliant header that gave goalkeeper Yates no chance to stop.
Stevenage continued their bright start throughout the first half and would dominate proceedings, pressing for a second goal and creating a number of clear-cut chances during the process.
On 25 minutes, Cowley looked to break clear for his second but decided to take his shot early from the edge of the box, which sailed high into the Wycombe stands.
10 minutes later, Parker had one of Wycombe’s best sights of goal but couldn’t get a shot away after the Chairboys loaded the box, with Boro Captain Scott Cuthbert in the right place at the right time to clear the ball from danger.
Oforborh then created another good opening, driving to the left-hand by-line before drilling a pass across the six-yard box, which flew past untouched, much to the relief of Sampson’s side.
Then, in the three minutes of added time, Stevenage would have two superb opportunities to extend their lead. First up, Boro had a goal disallowed after a perfectly placed free kick caused chaos inside the Wycombe area before being poked over the line. Unfortunately for Boro, the referee spotted an infringement which caused the decision to be overturned.
Then, a minute later, Guthrie was through one-on-one with the goalkeeper but saw his strike saved by Yates who got one quickly to smother the shot.
Having gone into half-time with a 1-0 lead in each of the past three games, it would have been understandable if the players came out cautiously from the break but on this occasion, it was different.
Cowley had a golden opportunity to score his second of the match minutes after the restart. A nice Stevenage move opened up Denton’s cross for Guthrie, whose header back across goal was met by Cowley, but his off-balance hit was wide of the mark.
The former Sporting Bromsgrove man had his hands all over tonight’s contest and could have had his hat-trick on 56 minutes. Another Stevenage set piece sent panic into the Wycombe back-line which lead to Cowley stabbing at goal from a few yards out, only to see his effort stopped on the line.
El-Abd and Nugent came on for Iontton and Stokes during the second half and just moments after entering the fray, Nugent could have put clear daylight between the two sides with a golden opportunity from the back-post after a recycled corner fell to him kindly. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, the centre-back failed to direct his shot on target and instead, played it across and at the goalkeeper
Paul Taylor replaced Jason Cowley with 15 minutes to go as Wycombe began to apply some sustained pressure onto the Stevenage defence for the first time in the contest. Despite that, the Chairboys mainly resorted to diagonal balls into Akinfenwa which Boro did brilliantly well to thwart, holding the home side to almost nothing in terms of opportunities in-front of goal.
That was until the final couple of minutes of added time, when Wheeler saw his header cleared off the line following a Chairboys corner before Ofoborh blazed over once it was headed back into play.
In the end, Stevenage got the monkey off their back to record a first win of the campaign, moving them into second place in Group O of the EFL Trophy, ahead of Saturday’s home match against Grimsby Town in Sky Bet League Two.