An entertaining affair at The Lamex goes Stevenage’s way thanks to a last minute Luke Norris penalty, meaning Boro progress to the second round of the Emirates FA Cup…
Earlier in the week, it was announced that Academy Manager Robbie O’Keefe would take charge of the Boro team for this Emirates FA Cup Tie. O’Keefe’s side consisted of the return of Ben Coker, Luke Prosser, Chris Lines and Bruno Andrade to the starting eleven.
As Stevenage got the game underway, the East Terrace were heard loud and clear ahead of a new era at the club after some disappointing results.
After four minutes, Harry Darling found his name in the Referee’s book to the delight of the Stevenage fans after pulling down Elliott List. It was List who then managed to get on the end of a superb pass from Chris Lines with huge appeals for a penalty being heard around the Lamex Stadium as the forward appeared to be tripped in the area. The referee thought otherwise.
Twenty-two minutes in, MK Dons came close to getting the first goal of the game as Mo Eisa was played in on the edge of the box, but Stevenage keeper Adam Smith did well to get down and deny.
Ten minutes later, Jamie Reid impressed with a clever turn to get past his man but was dragged down by Hiram Boateng resulting in a free kick from thirty yards and a yellow card. Bruno Andrade attempted a shot from the free kick but blasted low and hard past the post.
Soon after, it was the side from Buckinghamshire who took the lead. Josh Mceachran’s ball in from the corner found the head of Harry Darling who nodded home to put the visitors ahead.
Just before the interval, Elliott List had a crucial chance to equalise for the hosts as he picked up the ball from Luther James-Wildin’s pass and, under pressure, blasted his shot just over the bar. Shortly after, MK Dons’ Josh Martin was handed a straight red card for a hand to the face.
Despite a bright restart for Stevenage, ten minutes into the second half, a defensive mishap almost allowed The Dons to double the lead, but the ball was eventually cleared.
However, the bright restart continued as Boro found their equaliser on the hour mark. Elliott List’s trickery allowed him to skip past two men and play it wide to Ben Coker whose cross met the head of Jamie Reid to nod home. Game on.
Eight minutes later, Jamie Reid almost got his second of the night as he met Luther James-Wildin’s cross at the front post, but his header went just wide.
With just ten minutes to go, both sides looked to put everything into getting the winner. MK Dons introduced strikers Max Watters and Scott Twine with Boro bringing on Luke Norris.
Five minutes to go and Luke Norris’ long range effort appeared to cause trouble. Andrew Fisher spilled before eventually getting two hands on the ball.
Deep into injury time, Stevenage earned themselves a flurry of corners and came close on several occasions but despite trying absolutely everything in their power, the game required an additional thirty minutes of extra time.
It was Boro with the first big chance of extra time. Luther James-Wildin picked up the ball on the right-hand side just inside the box and his low driven effort was well kept out by Fisher in goal.
Stevenage continued to apply pressure, first with Luke Norris’ long range effort going inches over the bar before Elliott List’s header falling into the hands of the Dons’ keeper.
In the second half of extra time, there were a couple of scares for Boro as Troy Parrott had a clear chance to score but his effort went high and wide of the post.
With just three minutes to go, Stevenage were awarded a vital penalty. Elliott List, through on goal, was brought down in the area, leaving the referee an easy decision to make. A penalty and a red card for Harry Darling. It was Luke Norris to step up. The striker calmly struck the ball into the right-hand side of the net, putting the hosts ahead for the first time in the tie and putting smiles on faces at The Lamex.
The penalty turned out to be the final chance of the game as the referee blew his whistle and the Boro fans cheered loudly. An extremely feisty yet entertaining 120 minutes of football came to an end with Stevenage looking forward to a clash with Yeovil Town at Huish Park in the second round.