BORO BACK UP TO OLD TRICKS
THEY may be struggling to pick up points on the road but Stevenage manager Graham Westley is seeing Broadhall Way become a fortress again after their latest home success against Exeter.
During their rise from the Conference to the League One play-offs, Stevenage was a place nobody liked to visit – a fear factor that had drifted away during the club’s relegation of last season.
But Charlie Lee’s late winner capped a strong finish by the Boro, who have now won seven of the 11 matches they have played at home in the league this season.
Westley said:“We’ve done a lot of work on the training ground to make sure that we regain that Stevenage attitude of being a strong side at the end of games.
“You can see that the players have done extra strength work and you could see in the last 15 minutes that we were really quite determined to make sure we got the three points.
“Our home ground is starting to become that fortress again – we’re starting to get results here and I think that’s now six wins in nine here now.
“We want to eradicate the defeats and the draws obviously but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Stevenage suffered an early blow when striker Lee Barnard was forced off after 15 minutes, but they were still created the game’s first chance. Dean Parrett did well to battle his way the byline and cut the ball back for Ryan Brunt, whose backheel from close range was kept out by Exeter goalkeeper James Hamon.
Alex Nicholls came within a whisker of giving the Grecians the lead when he cut inside from the left before bending an excellent shot against the bar.
Matt Oakley’s long ball was then flicked on by David Wheeler to put Nicholls through, whose effort was this time kept out by the legs of Chris Day.
Tom Pett shot just wide for the hosts before the crossbar was left shaking for the second time when Lee’s half-volley just didn’t dip early enough.
Both goalkeepers were ensuring the game remained scoreless with Hamon keeping out Brunt’s shot with his legs while Day then parried Danny Butterfield’s speculative effort from 30 yards.
But Lee proved to be Stevenage’s hero with six minutes left when he controlled Pett’s cross in the penalty area before sliding a low shot into the far corner.
This was Exeter’s first defeat since their humiliating cup exit to Warrington and their boss Paul Tisdale said: “At some point we were going to lose that unbeaten run and it wasn’t through a want of trying.
“It was a very, very tight game and the pitch was a bit of a leveller.
“Stevenage had a really decisive focus about their play and put their game into action.
“We’ve got ours and considering the surface, considering the energy and the effort that Stevenage put in to stop us I thought we played extremely well. I’m proud of the team.”
CHEEKY CHARLIE: Charlie Lee gives Stevenage the lead with just six minutes to go WHEELS ARE OFF: Exeter’s David Wheeler chases Charlie Adams