Defeat on the road...
Elliott List’s glimmer of second half hope was not enough for Stevenage to take anything away from Exeter, as goals from Archie Collins, Matt Jay and Ryan Bowman sealed the win for The Grecians.
After coming down unwell before the weekend, Manager Alex Revell did not travel with the squad to Exeter City. Three changes were made to the side that was held to a 0-0 draw with Tranmere Rovers last weekend, with Danny Newton, Jack Smith and Tom Pett coming in for Tyrone Marsh, Elliott List and Chris Lines.
It was a bright start for Stevenage in a chilly Devon, as Luke Norris and Danny Newton’s strike partnership was on display for the first time, and almost paid off within the first couple of minutes - a lofted ball up top was knocked down by our new forward and latched onto by the Stevenage stalwart. Danny Newton took aim with his left from the edge of the box but was off balance as Jonny Maxted collected easily.
Minutes later, Luke Norris had a chance of his own when Charlie Carter’s cross found Norris in space inside the box, before his effort kindly deflected into the hands of Maxted.
On the ten-minute mark, Exeter City took advantage of Boro’s earlier missed chances, when Archie Collins drove forward from midfield and fired into the top corner. Unsaveable, but Stevenage will perhaps ask the question why Collins was allowed so much time.
Goal scorer Collins almost doubled the hosts advantage five minutes later with a similar strike, but this time Jamie Cumming made the save.
Stevenage were proving a difficult opposition to play against, pressing high up the pitch and threatening from the wide areas – although the Exeter goalkeeper was yet to be really tested.
Arthur Read had a chance to sting Jonny Maxted gloves on the half hour mark when he took aim from thirty yards, but saw his effort fly high and wide into the stand behind.
Chances were then few and far between as the game ticked towards half-time, with a skewed Matt Jay chance from distance and a half-hearted appeal from Tom Pett after he took a tumble in the area.
Behind at the break, and Stevenage had work to do.
Matty Stevens was introduced for Danny Newton at half-time, and almost made an immediate effect after latching onto a long ball from Ben Coker. Stevens took the ball down in his stride before entering the box and cutting onto his left and taking aim, but it took a fantastic save from Jonny Maxted to keep the ball out.
Alarm bells then rang for Exeter as they raised their game and started to push for a second, but Jay could only fire wide from inside the area five minutes later.
Either side of a couple of Matt Jay strikes that did little to trouble Jamie Cumming, Luther James-Wildin made way for Remeao Hutton on the hour mark.
As the half continued, Stevenage grew in confidence as they looked for what would be a shock leveller. A succession of corners was to no effect with twenty minutes left to play, but Exeter continued to drop deeper.
Gaffer for the day Dean Wilkins then made his final throw of the dice, bringing on Elliott List and Tyrone Marsh for the final quarter of the game.
With ten minutes left to play, the result was all but confirmed. Matt Jay finally took advantage of his plethora of chances and fired into the back of the net from inside the area to make it two.
Stevenage were not to give up without a fight, mind. Substitute Elliott List’s pace got the better of the Exeter backline, before a last ditch tackle deflected his shot behind for a corner. The corner came in and fell to Elliott List, who calmly placed into the bottom corner. Game on.
Game over. A minute later, Nicky Law found Ryan Bowman inside the box who curled into the far corner past Jamie Cumming. A brief glimmer of hope faded as soon as it brightened.
There were a few half chances for Boro but the seconds slipped away, as Stevenage fell to defeat in Devon.