oals in the first and last minute of the game were enough to give County a much-needed 2-1 victory over Stevenage to halt a run of consecutive draws and extended the Exiles unbeaten run to six in all competitions. The victory leaves them 3rd in the League Two table, three points ahead of MK Dons.
Boss Mike Flynn told the press in midweek that he would like to start the scoring and develop from there rather than continuing the trend of having to come from behind; the players certainly delivered on that. Robbie Willmott produced some excellent work to beat Jamal Campbell-Ryce – sticking him on his posterior in doing so – and played the ball into Tyreeq Bakinson. While visibly tempted to let fly himself, he left it to Matty Dolan who, as the clock ticked to just 46 seconds, unleashed a wonderful left-footed volley into the top corner. Goalkeeper Seny Dieng was as much a spectator as the rest of the 3,126 in attendance as he dived despairingly to his left.
With players slipping and sliding all over the place due in large to the recent weather, the game was played largely in the middle of the park in the first half; Stevenage built up well but were doing so only in front of the Exiles’ backline. They were unable to produce anything with the wind at their backs...until added time.
A corner from the left found its way back to Steve Seddon whose left-footed cross found its way to Luther Wildin, who guided his header well across goalkeeper Joe Day and into the far corner. To say it was against the run of play would be flattering to County but given the lack of creativity Stevenage offered up, it’s hard to say they were worth going in level at half time.
This was hammered home in the second half where the visitors were limited to a single chance from a corner which was headed just wide, but they could do little to prevent County from getting on top and pushing for a winner. Both Dan Butler and Mickey Demetriou had left-footed drives saved in the first 10 minutes of the second half; a clear signal of intent from the backline.
Jamille Matt had the next big opportunity; he took the ball well on his chest, nutmegged his marker but could only fire wide after taking an extra touch. Demetriou then stepped forward again to have a go but Stevenage ‘keeper Seny Dieng, who himself had a decent game, was again level to it.
County lost both Tyreeq Bakinson and Robbie Willmott to injury in the space of 20 minutes; both occurring in 50/50 tackles. Tyreeq tried to battle on but less than two minutes after the tackle, he was back on the floor and that was that. Robbie, on the other hand, went down and stayed down. He was in visible agony from the tackle and we wish him a speedy recovery from what we hope isn’t too serious an injury. Flynny revealed after the game that the hope is that it is just “a badly bruised shin.”
It was off the back of this injury that the 4th official signalled NINE minutes of added time, the vast majority of which was, like the rest of the game, played in the middle of the park. But with barely two minutes left to play, Captain Mickey once again broke free of his defensive duties and tried to slip a through ball between the visiting centre backs. His attempt was blocked but only as far as the mercurial Antoine Semenyo. The Bristol City loanee took one touch and then rifled a shot inside the near post to send the 3000-strong crowd into raptures.
Mike Flynn said of the victory, "I didn't think we were quite at our best today, but to be able to beat a good team when not at your best shows how far we have come and how far we can go. It is a massive, massive win and I am absolutely delighted for the players.”
Next up for County are a pair of away fixtures at Crawley Town next Saturday and then Bury the following Tuesday and you would think they will travel to both with their tails wagging; this last-gasp victory is sure to send new waves of confidence throughout the squad, even if it is slightly bittersweet considering the injuries sustained on Saturday.
Man of the Match: Matty Dolan
Attendence: 3,126 (71 stevenage)