Stevenage posted another win away from home in Crawley on Tuesday night, as Elliot Obsorne’s superb strike late in the game helped secure a vital win for Alex Revell’s side…
After a relentless battle for 83 minutes that toed and froed, it was Osborne who came up with a moment of magic to split the teams on just his second appearance since coming back from injury. More heroics were needed in the final moments, as David Stockdale saved a Tom Nichols penalty to preserve the clean-sheet.
The win makes it three out of four for Stevenage on the road and five from their last 11 league games, to move onto 32 points and nine points clear of the bottom two.
Alex Revell named two changes from Saturday's defeat at Bolton, with Jack Roles making his full Stevenage debut coming in for the injured Jack Aitchison, and Matty Stevens replacing Danny Newton.
The first chance of the game came just a couple of minutes in, as Maguire-Drew struck a well hit free-kick from the edge of the box towards goal, but Stockdale was able to shuffle across and make a simple enough save.
Stevenage were enjoying the better of the possession during the early goings and were passing the ball around with accuracy and purpose in spells. One such moment came after 18 minutes as Roles, Stevens, Pett and List combined in attack, which lead to a blocked List effort from 20 yards before Pett fired over a few yards further out still.
Dallison almost caught the Boro back-line out with a pin-point pass from within his own half, which sailed right onto the chest of Nicholl’s who couldn’t quite bring the ball down in time as Stockdale came out to smother.
Norris, who has created a habit of scoring against Crawley in recent years, tried his luck from distance on the half hour mark after taking down a long pass and shielding the ball away from his markers before forcing a save from Morris. A few minutes later, Norris again was next to threaten, with a header that sailed over the bar from Lines’ free-kick.
After being fouled earlier in the contest by Reds centre-back Tony Craig, who received a yellow card for the collision, Craig got his own-back as the game approached half-time by drilling a quick free-kick into the Stevenage striker who received a caution of his own for not allowing the set-piece to be taken.
With just four minutes left in the half came the bet chance of the game, as Roles won possession off Norris’ headed flick, before playing a well timed one-two with Stevens, but Morris denied the Spurs loanee a full debut goal by denying him from point-blank range.
Seconds into the second half and Norris was knocking on the door again. This time, getting off a snapshot from a tight angle to test Morris’ palms.
An intricate passing move on the edge of the Stevenage box opened up the chance for Maguire-Drew to open the scoring, but a brilliant recovery run and block from Pett denied the shot on goal.
Alex Revell rang the changes early in the second half, bringing on Osborne and Read for Stevens and Roles. List, now playing as a centre-forward, make a remarkable run to evade a number of Crawley challenges, onto to get himself into shooting position, but was abruptly halted by the referee’s whistle who blew up for an earlier foul on him.
The home team grew in stature during the second half and whilst it was Boro who were stamping their authority in the first, it was Crawley doing so in the second. Their set-pieces in particular were causing problems with each and every Stevenage defender needing to be on red alert in-order to stem the threat.
Despite this, it was Stevenage again who came closest to scoring, this time through Elliott List, who was a menace to the opposition with his pace throughout the match, as he latched onto Norris’ pass to burst through the middle of the Crawley defence before being denied by Morris’ legs from just a few yards out.
As the match began to draw to a conclusion, Boro regained the ascendancy and finally got their rewards in the 83rd minute through a piece of genius from Elliot Osborne. After receiving the ball on the left corner of the box, the returning man shifted the ball onto his right foot before bending a beautiful strike into the top corner.
The drama wasn’t over though, with a few minutes remaining, Read bundled over the tricky Maguire-Drew inside the area which led to a Crawley penalty. With Nichols standing over the ball, the striker went for power and Stockdale produced a terrific save to deny a Reds equaliser.
Despite six minutes of agonising added time, Revell’s side were able to see out the victory, a third in four away games to move nine points clear of the League Two relegation zone.