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Report: Cheltenham 4-2 Stevenage

7 September 2019

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Stevenage suffered a fourth league defeat of the 2019/20 season during a topsy-turvey encounter at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

After twice going behind to Michael Duff’s Cheltenham, Boro were able to equalise twice through Danny Newton only to see the Robins strike twice late in the contest to secure all three points.

Dino Maamria named two changes to the team that played out last Saturday's league draw against Macclesfield Town, as Adam El-Abd came straight into the starting XI following his arrival on Friday whilst captain Scott Cuthbert returned from injury to partner the former Egyptian International at the heart of defence.

Boro got off to a decent start in the contest with List creating the first chance of the match, driving at the Cheltenham back four before firing low but straight at Flinders. With another reshuffled defensive line, there were some early signs that not all was well as Broom passed up a golden opportunity to put the home side ahead, after El-Habd lost the ball inside his own box which lead to Varney picking out Broom about six yards out, only for the striker to lose control of the ball and see the chance go missing.

Kelland Watts was showing a real aerial presence despite his young age and came close to opening the scoring with a back-post header on 18 minutes that crashed into the side netting. Two minutes later, the ball fell to Carter just inside box, but his shot deflected high and into the hands of the goalkeeper.

22 minutes in, Cheltenham went ahead. Gavin Reilly with a superb strike into top corner after shifting the ball past Cuthbert inside the area, leaving Farman no chance in goal.

Reilly almost got his second minutes later but for a brilliant save from Farman and then goal-line clearance by Cuthbert, as the forward burst past the defence once again. 25 minutes, Cuthbert’s return to the team was cut short once again, as he was forced off with injury for Danny Newton, meaning a change in formation and tactics for Maamria’s side. Cheltenham had the ball in the back of the net on 39 minutes after Broom forced a parry from Farman that landed in the danger area where Varney was there to sweep up. Thankfully for the Boro supporters behind the goal, the assistants flag was raised.

Right before the half was up, Watts had another headed attempt at goal after good work Stokes down the line to find the centre-back lurking. A frustrating first half for Stevenage who were going to have to up their levels in the second in-order to claw back something from the contest.

Up their levels they did. Just three minutes in, Danny Newton scored his first goal of the season as he headed home Byrom’s cross into the bottom corner to make it game on at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

All that good work almost came undone immediately, as Cheltenham broke on the counter-attack, leaving Varney unmarked at the back-post but the experienced striker inexplicably fluffed his lines with the goal at his mercy.

Rather than being undone immediately, it was instead undone shortly after. A brilliant pass from midfield split the Stevenage defence, leaving Broom with the opportunity to cross for Clements at the back-post, who had the relatively simple task of hitting the target to see Cheltenham retake the lead.

Kennedy, who was having a big influence on proceedings, continued to pepper the Cheltenham box with cross after cross and found the perfect one for the on-rushing Stokes on 65 minutes as he ghosted in behind the Cheltenham defenders only to fire high and wide when faced with the goal.

With 20 minutes remaining, Newton levelled things up once again, powering home a rocket of a shot from distance that took a deflection and went under the goalkeeper. Mackail-Smith entered the field immediately after in place of Elliott List as Boro went in search of a first league win.

Guthrie almost completed the turnaround on 75 minutes, as the ball fell to him from just 12 yards out, but the Robins had enough men in the box to make the block, survive and ultimately, take advantage.

Farman seemed to save Stevenage’s bacon soon after, as Varney broke through the defensive line again only to be thwarted by the stopper. In the end, the save was made in vein, as another slick Cheltenham move finished with Ryan Broom smashing in from close range to make it 3-2.

During the closing stages, Newton headed over the bar and Cowley replaced Guthrie, but the Robins added a fourth on the counter-attack, after Addai broke clear before finishing with aplomb to make it 4-2 and continue Boro’s difficult start to the league season.


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