Strikes from Jake Taylor and Dan Sweeney earn Boro victory at Clarence Park…
Having brought the game forward to 1pm, the pitch side temperature remained scorching at kick-off as Stevenage’s pre-season continued at Clarence Park.
Taye Ashby-Hammond started between the sticks in place of Aaron Chapman, fronted by a back four of Luther James-Wildin, Michael Bostwick, Mackye Townsend-West and Saxon Early.
Dean Campbell, Max Clark, Jake Taylor and Jordan Roberts made up the midfield diamond, with Danny Rose and Jamie Reid up top.
Much to be expected, Stevenage started the brighter of the two sides. Pressing from the front from Steve Evans’ side made sure the St Albans City back line were never settled on the ball, with the aim to capitalise on any possession turnovers high up the pitch.
Danny Rose had the first sight at goal just ten minutes in, after picking the ball up on the right and cutting inside onto his left foot. The strike from the edge of the box was a tame one, as Saints stopper Michael Johnson collected calmly.
Three minutes later, Danny Rose again tested the gloves of Johnson but this time with more venom. A spell of head tennis inside the St Albans penalty area ended with an audacious overhead kick from Boro’s new number 32, unfortunately a straight forward enough save for Johnson again.
Jamie Reid and Jordan Roberts both went close midway through the first half but to no avail as Stevenage continued to lay the pressure on the home side.
With ten minutes to go until the interval, Boro found their breakthrough. A well-timed Max Clark through ball found the path of Jake Taylor who had beaten the offside trap, to slot home and give the visitors a deserved lead.
Half-time came as the temperature reached 28 degrees in South Hertfordshire.
As we’ve seen in the last few pre-season games, Steve Evans opted to keep his starting eleven on for the start of the second half – until the hour mark at least.
Jordan Roberts again stung the gloves of the St Albans goalkeeper with a neat spin and shot from the edge of the box, but the stopper stood firm to keep the ball out.
As predicted, wholesale changes were made with thirty minutes left to play. Apart from goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond, all of those who started were replaced and in turn disappeared down the tunnel for a cold shower.
The new Stevenage lineup remained in the same diamond formation, with Alfie Williams, Carl Piergianni, Terence Vancooten and Kane Smith making up the back four.
Dan Sweeney, Jack Smith, Arthur Read and Jake Reeves came into the middle of the park, behind Elliott List and Luke Norris.
Elliott List almost made an immediate impact after latching onto a delightful clipped through ball from Alfie Williams behind the St Albans defence, before beating his man and striking the near post from a tight angle.
Aaron Chapman was then introduced with twenty minutes left to play, replacing Taye Ashby-Hammond in between the sticks.
With the substitutions and the increased heat pitch side, the game took to a slower pace despite St Albans City not relenting their chase for an equaliser. Liam Sole went close but saw his effort fly past the post, before Aaron Chapman was forced into a smart save low to his right to keep Boro in front with minutes to play.
As the game looked destined to be confirmed by the solitary Jake Taylor strike, Arthur Read’s corner in the final few seconds was met by Dan Sweeney, who nudged home to double Boro’s advantage at the death.
Another victory for Steve Evans’ men this season, and a good performance despite the soaring temperatures. Next up for Boro, Derby County visit The Lamex Stadium on Tuesday evening.