Sarll is eye­ing au­to­matic spots

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Mike Sim­monds

S TEVENAGE boss Darren Sarll ad­mits he is dream­ing of a top-three spot after his side show­cased their au­to­matic pro­mo­tion cre­den­tials with a su­perb win at fel­low hope­fuls Lu­ton.

The vis­i­tors were good value for their vic­tory, leapfrog­ging their op­po­nents in the process, as they climbed up to fourth in the ta­ble.

They trail third-placed Portsmouth by just four points and ex­tended their ex­cel­lent re­cent run to eight wins from nine games.

And Sarll claims the en­vi­ron­ment his high-fly­ing squad have cre­ated is con­ducive to suc­cess.

“We’ve got a ter­rific, ter­rific chang­ing room and a ter­rific at­mos­phere,” said Sarll.

“They’re do­ing their job, that’s the great thing about it.

“There is no magic for­mula, they’re all do­ing their jobs and the play­ers have found form – Tom Pett has found form, Steven Schu­macher has found form, they all have.

“They’re work­ing so well for each other and as long as they keep their stan­dards high, we’ll be fine.

“I’m sure there will be a few bumps along the way, but if we keep our stan­dards high then there’s no rea­son to think we can’t go and win pro­mo­tion.”

The 9,000 fans in at­ten­dance saw the hosts fall be­hind in­side three min­utes.

Ex-Lu­ton de­fender Luke Wilkin-

son showed great de­ter­mi­na­tion to power a header home from a cor­ner, de­spite tak­ing a whack to the head for his ef­forts.

Boro al­most had a sec­ond, Jobi McAnuff’s ef­fort well blocked by Alan Shee­han, while Pelly-Rud­dock Mpanzu’s header was cleared off the line by Jack King.

Home keeper Matt Macey had a for­tu­nate es­cape mid­way through the half, when his free­kick was hit straight at Ben Kennedy, who chipped over from 30 yards.

Isaac Vas­sell was de­nied by an on­rush­ing Chris Day some 40 yards from goal and the Steve­nage stop­per had to turn over Dan Potts’ de­flected ef­fort from range.

Boro wasted a de­cent counter, with Char­lie Lee shoot­ing over the top and Macey having to shovel McAnuff ’s vol­ley be­hind for a cor­ner.

In the sec­ond pe­riod, Danny Hyl­ton was de­nied by a goal-line clear­ance from Steven Schu­macher, as his header looked to creep in while Jonathan Smith’s vol­ley was well wide of the tar­get, as was half-time sub­sti­tute Luke Gam­bin’s hope­ful at­tempt.

Vas­sell’s shot was straight at Day, with the keeper then making a su­perb stop from Ol­lie Palmer’s close-range header, fly­ing across his goal to palm away.

That was to prove crit­i­cal as Steve­nage killed the game off with six min­utes to go when Kennedy burst for­ward on the counter at­tack and let fly from 20 yards, ham­mer­ing his won­der­ful shot past Macey and into the top cor­ner.

Late on, Day was to pro­vide a bar­rier be­tween Lu­ton and a con­so­la­tion, par­ry­ing Vas­sell’s down­ward header, while also making a fine re­ac­tion stop to pre­vent Hyl­ton and then Palmer pulling one back as Lu­ton dropped five points away from au­to­matic pro­mo­tion.

Frus­trated Hatters boss Nathan Jones said: “I’m dis­ap­pointed with the per­for­mance and the result in los­ing such a big game.

“We were nowhere near it over­all, but say­ing that, we had enough chances to have still have prob­a­bly won the game.

“We’ve had two kicked off the line, hit the post, their keeper’s had an in­spired af­ter­noon and that’s with us be­ing ab­so­lutely nowhere near where we need to be.

“So a very, very frus­trat­ing af­ter­noon for us, but credit to Steve­nage, they came with a game­plan and got a vic­tory.”

BORO MAGIC: Lu­ton goal­keeper Matt Macey can’t stop Ben Kennedy’s ef­fort fly­ing past him

PIC­TURES: Gareth Owen

UP­WARDLY MO­BILE: Steve­nage cel­e­brate Ben Kennedy’s goal as, in­set, Ol­lie Palmer, left, and Isaac Vas­sell go close for Lu­ton


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