All runs must come to an end...
Luther James-Wildin wonder goal cancels out Thomas-Asante’s opener, but an Ian Henderson header wins it for the unbeaten at home hosts. Stevenage taste defeat for the first time in thirteen outings, but are also pronounced mathematically safe after results elsewhere.
Alex Revell named two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Bradford City on Easter Monday at The Lamex Stadium, with Terence Vancooten and Elliot Osborne returning to the side in place of Luke Prosser and Joe Martin.
This was Vancooten’s first appearance for Stevenage since leaving for international duty ahead of the Barrow home game, scoring for Guyana in their World Cup Qualifiers in the process.
After the players woke up to snow at their hotel in Greater Manchester, it was a surprise to arrive to blue skies at the Peninsula Stadium. A stark contrast to our last visit to Salford on the opening day of last season in the boiling sun, Moor Lane in April felt refreshingly cool with the slight overcast clouds.
Stevenage almost received an early lead without knowing too much about it, when Elliott List’s pressure on the goalkeeper ended with a ricochet of the Boro forward from Hladky’s kick, but the ball fell wide much to the hosts’ fortune.
Elliott List, who was awarded Player of the Month for March earlier in the week, looked a threat and an outlet from the off against the Salford backline. Arthur Read almost found Boro’s top scorer with the first through ball of the afternoon, but Hladky was off his line soon enough to intercept the chance.
Down the other end, Salford had their first chance of the game just before the ten minute mark. Paul Coutts found space down the left hand side before crossing towards the back post, and found Ritchie Towell who volleyed over from close range.
The two sides started the game with a high intensity, as to be expected. The ball pinballed for an amount of time for the first quarter of the game, as both sides looked to control possession – but neither side would give in.
Salford City had a bright ten minutes halfway through the first period, with the majority of their joy coming from Ibou Touray from left-back. Stevenage would close any opening however, as they grew back into the game.
Just after the half hour mark, Ben Coker’s low cross found Elliot Osborne who turned inside the area, only to shoot high and wide over the woodwork. Minutes later, Chris Lines slid Elliott List through on goal, but Vaclav Hladky stood firm to make a smart stop from six yards.
Half chances for either side then took the game to level to the break.
As the second half started, the snow started falling. With the conditions growing more challenging as the minutes passed, chances started coming for both sides. Brandon Thomas-Asante’s effort took a kind deflection of Luther James-Wildin to fall into Jamie Cumming’s arms, before Stevenage were not as fortunate a minute later.
Ian Henderson’s quick throw in caught the Boro defence off guard, and found Ritchie Towell on the wing. Thomas-Asante was there to tap home Towell’s cross, and Stevenage were behind with their unbeaten streak on the line.
However, a matter of minutes later Alex Revell’s men were level. And how. Picking the ball up on the half way line after hold up play from Luke Norris, Luther James-Wildin drove forward freely and took matters into his own hands. Twenty five yards out, the right back unleashed an unforgiven effort which nestled beautifully into the top corner of the net. Boro were back level as the game remained in the balance.
Three quarters of the way through the ninety, Salford came close with two chances in quick succession. Jamie Cumming found himself in no mans land after a defensive mix up left the goalkeeper thirty yards from his goal, but Ian Henderson’s attempted chip could only fall wide, thankfully for the Chelsea loanee.
Then, Brandon Thomas-Asante’s free-kick cannoned off the cross bar minutes later, as Stevenage survived another scare.
A number of warning signs for Alex Revell’s men, but the next Salford chance and they would pay the price. Ibou Touray’s cross found Ian Henderson inside the box, who had timed his run perfectly to head home. Boro were behind with fifteen to go.
Jack Aitchison replaced Elliott List for the final ten minutes, and almost got Stevenage back level with five to go. Elliot Osborne found Aitchison unmarked inside the area, but some last ditch Salford defending made sure to keep his shot away from goal. From the resulting corner, Tom Pett’s effort almost looped into the net after a wicked deflection, but the Red Devils had their lucky stars to thank as they remained in the lead.
Alex Revell introduced Luke Prosser up front as the last throw of the dice, but all runs must come to an end as Stevenage suffered defeat for the first time in thirteen games.