Two late goals from strike partners Jamie Reid and Luke Norris earn Stevenage three points after a fantastic performance at League One opposition in the Papa John's Trophy...
Alex Revell named four changes from Saturday's victory over Hartlepool United, with Luke Prosser, Luke Norris, and Jack Smith coming in for Scott Cuthbert, Elliott List and Jake Taylor. Max Melbourne made his first Stevenage appearance since signing on loan from Lincoln City on deadline day, replacing Ben Coker.
As Stevenage looked to build on their success from the weekend, Alex Revell’s side started brightly at the Kassam Stadium with Elliot Osborne sliding through Bruno Andrade inside the Oxford box, before his shot was blocked behind by Elliott Moore the Oxford captain.
Oxford were certainty full of confidence after their 2-1 win away at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, as they played a succession of passes before Mark Sykes sent in a cross for Dan Agyei to head into the Stevenage goal – giving Oxford the advantage after ten minutes.
Thirty minutes into the game and Sykes was causing problems again for the Boro midfield. After getting past Osborne with a neat turn, his shot on goal was saved comfortably by Joseph Anang. Minutes later, Melbourne slid a beautiful pass through on goal to Jamie Reid, but Simon Eastwood came out fast to make an impressive save.
Stevenage started to build from that chance and five minutes later Luther James-Wildin sprayed a ball into Luke Norris feet, who layed it off to Osborne who skipped past his man inside the Oxford area, before Eastwood got down well to make the save.
Behind at the break, Alex Revell’s side started to grow into the game after Oxford’s first goal with numerous good chances.
As the second half started, Stevenage again started on the front foot with a Bruno Andrade pass to an offside Luke Norris, but he shrewdly left it for Bruno to burst into the space, but his shot fired wide under pressure from Elliot Moore.
Stevenage certainly put the pressure on this League One side. Bruno Andrade had a half chance again after finding himself on the edge of the box, but his shot is fired high over the Oxford goal and into the car park behind.
Despite the Stevenage pressure, Oxford found a chance for themselves midway through the first half. Cameron Brannagan fired a hard and low strike into the path of Anang, who had Luke Prosser to thank for clearing the rebound.
Alex Revell made two changes with fifteen minutes left to play, with Jake Taylor and Mackye Townsend-West coming on for Bruno Andrade and Max Melbourne. The changes made a quick impact with Academy duo Jack Smith and Townsend-West pressing Ryan Williams high up the pitch making him lose the ball, before Jack Smith found Jamie Reid midway inside the Oxford half. The forward turned and drove a venomous strike into the bottom left-hand corner to make it a goal apiece.
As penalties loomed, Osbourne was once again in the heart of the attack. By winning the ball in the middle of the park and bringing it forwards thirty yards, his through ball found Luke Norris inside the area on the striker’s favoured right foot. With an extra touch to beat his man, Norris fired the visitors into the lead at the Kassam – much to the disbelief of the home fans.
The fourth official put up four minutes of additional time, but Alex Revell’s men were determined to make it two wins in the space of four days. As the final whistle blew, delight surrounded the brave 42 travelling fans who had just witnessed a resilient and fearless Stevenage victory at League One opposition.
Cambridge United at home next up in the Papa John’s Trophy, but focus falls to Saturday for the visit of Exeter City.
Attendance 1,712 inc. 42 away.