Salford take home all three points despite Luke Norris' late goal...
After a well-earned point in Carlisle last weekend, Boro returned to familiar territory as they welcomed Salford City who went into the game two points inside the play-off places. Steve Evans made just one change to last week’s starting eleven as Jordan Roberts replaced Josh March.
Stevenage started the game brightly and earned themselves a corner inside three minutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was met by the towering head of Carl Piergianni, but his header was cleared away.
After a slower period, Alex Gilbey picked up the ball in midfield before taking it forward and having an attempt from outside the box, but Salford’s Alex Cairns got down to his right-hand side to deny.
The Ammies grew into the game shortly after and came agonisingly close to taking the lead. Luke Bolton drilled a low ball across the box as Matty Lund had an open goal to tap in to, but fortunately for Boro, he was unable to get a touch on it.
Twenty minutes had been played and it was a reasonably open game, with Boro creating the better chances. Luke Norris touched the ball down superbly on the edge of the area, before striking at the goalkeeper who initially spilled it, but then collected it to prevent Jake Taylor getting the rebound.
With half-time approaching, Boro created their best chance of the first forty-five minutes. Jake Reeves’ free kick was sent into the area with Dan Sweeney rising highest to meet it, but his header on goal was acrobatically saved by Alex Cairns to keep the score goalless as the sides went into the break.
Five minutes into the second half, Salford came close to breaking the deadlock as Jon McCracken went down holding his head, leaving an open goal. The play was not stopped, and Kane Smith was forced to make a crucial block on the line to keep the score level. After minutes of treatment and getting his head bandaged up, McCracken was back on his feet and play continued.
The second half was far slower than the first as Stevenage were creating less chances. Just after the hour mark, the deadlock was broken but in favour of the visitors. The ball fell to Stevie Mallan on the edge of the box who placed it into the bottom of the corner to give Salford the lead.
The Ammies were really applying the pressure as they looked to double their lead. Luke Bolton fired on goal from the edge of the area, but Jon McCracken tipped it past the post. Steve Evans then made his first substitution of the afternoon as Jake Taylor made way for Jake Forster-Caskey.
With ten minutes remaining, Salford did in fact double their lead through number nine, Callum Hendry. The forward latched onto a loose ball on the break before slotting it past Jon McCracken to give his side a two-goal advantage. The returning Daryl Horgan then replaced Alex Gilbey.
Just before the clock struck ninety minutes, Boro got a goal back. Jamie Reid fired the ball across goal, with Luke Norris taking a touch and tapping it past the goalkeeper to give his side a sense of hope. Steve Evans was determined to go for it as he introduced Danny Rose in place of Kane Smith.
As the fourth official held up twelve additional minutes, the atmosphere picked up inside The Lamex Stadium as the supporters dreamt of a comeback. Salford quickly killed off hope though, as veteran striker Matt Smith fired home to regain his side’s two-goal lead.
In the final minutes, Stevenage kept on fighting but it just wasn’t to be for the hosts as the referee’s whistle concluded a disappointing afternoon, with Salford taking home all three points. Boro go on their travels to Northampton next weekend in an absolutely crucial clash.
Attendance: 3749 including 120 away supporters.