Stevenage suffered a first home defeat of the season as Salford City prevailed at the Lamex Stadium, winning 1-0 courtesy of an early Ash Hunter goal…
Stevenage made two changes to the team that lost against Bradford City last week, with Ross Marshall coming into the side to replace Jack Smith, making his first ever EFL start. Youngsters Mackaye-Townsend West and Yasin Arai were also named on the bench for the second successive game whilst Inih Effiong returned to the matchday squad following an injury.
Salford attacked Stevenage from the start, pressing with intensity and the first goal arrived just after the minute mark. Arthur Read was chased down by numerous Salford players, resulting in a pass-back into the path of Ash Hunter, who calmly dispatched past Jamie Cumming despite an initial save.
Ash Hunter continued to find space within the Stevenage back line with Salford finding their rhythm within the early stages the Lamex Stadium.
Stevenage offered little threat until Marcus Dinanga won a free kick on the edge of the Salford box after a mazy run. Arthur Read took the resulting free kick which was heading towards goal and had to be tipped over by Salford keeper, Vaclav Hladky.
Despite going behind, Boro responded well for the remainder of the first half and it was Arthur Read who was involved once again after 15 minutes. The visitors failed to clear a Luther James-Wildin cross which fell to an unmarked Read inside the box. Read struck the ball on the volley and Hladky was called into action once again, palming the midfielder’s effort away for a corner.
The away side continued to show their quality though, as Ian Henderson found room inside the box after a lofted through ball by Darron Gibson. Henderson went to shoot, but was intercepted in the nick of time by Boro captain, Scott Cuthbert.
As the first half came to a close, Elliot Osborne had a long range effort which was deflected away and Salford also had a late chance to extend their lead, with Jordan Turnbull scoring a goal which was ruled out for offside.
The second half commenced with Salford once again on the front foot, with James Wilson striking the bar from close range after the first minute of resumption. The ball bounced off the bar straight to Henderson, who cushioned the ball down to Gibson who was thwarted on the edge of the box by the Stevenage defence.
Salford troubled Stevenage once more minutes later, with Hunter forcing Cumming into a smart stop from long range. Salford pressed Stevenage with persistence in forward areas, penning Stevenage inside their own half for long spells of the game.
Stevenage were happy to give Salford time on the ball in the midfield, and Stevenage were nearly punished on the hour mark. Richie Towell escaped from his man on the left hand side, playing a low driven ball into an unmarked Hunter who scuffed his effort wide.
Salford hit the bar for the second time minutes later, with Henderson cutting inside before releasing a shot that evaded Cumming in the Stevenage goal.
Inih Effiong was brought on after 70 minutes as Stevenage began to play more direct, with Cuthbert coming close to levelling the scores with a glanced header which went over the bar from a corner forced by Effiong.
Jack Smith was also introduced and troubled Salford with his technical ability, whipping in a cross from the right hand side which was dealt with by Hladky before an onrushing Danny Newton could pounce.
Salford caused problems for Stevenage late into the game, with a long ball finding substitute Brandon Asante who was closed down by Cumming, only for Henderson to collect the ball and cross into Emmanuel Dieseruvwe, who headed an effort towards goal which was cleared on the line by an alert Ross Marshall.
Despite Boro’s best efforts, it was the impressive Salford who collected the three points and maintained their unbeaten run in the league, rising to 3rd in the table. This was Stevenage’s first home loss of the season which sees Boro drop down to 16th after two consecutive defeats.