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9 August 2016

Kennedy goal sends Blues out of the cup at the first round stage

Ben Kennedy’s second-half goal proved enough to send Town out of the EFL Cup at the first stage. 

The Stevenage striker forced the ball in from close range on 53 minutes after Dean Gerken’s feet had kept out Charlie Lee’s deflected shot.

Blues never matched the second-half display against Barnsley at the weekend but rallied late on and David McGoldrick forced Jamie Jones into two good saves as Town searched for an equaliser but to no avail.  

Hat-trick hero Grant Ward and fellow new boy Conor Grant were included in the Blues’ line-up, with Paul Digby making his first appearance as a Town player following his permanent move from Barnsley in the summer.

Jonathan Douglas sent a diving header just wide from Freddie Sears’ cross in Town’s first opening, while Stevenage also went close with a header from Luke Wilkinson in a quiet opening to the game. 

Sears was having some joy down the Town right, his cross just evading the supporting Grant, Ward then seeing a shot deflected wide. 

Kennedy almost forced his way through for Stevenage, the striker creating space but pulling his shot wide. 

Jonas Knudsen’s excellent pass released Sears down the left channel but the former West Ham striker was crowded out as he looked to shoot. 

Gerken was quick off his line to stop Rowan Liburd getting on the end of Lee’s pass, while at the other end Grant just failed to connect with the loose ball as he raced into the box.

Kevin Bru sent his free-kick over the bar from 25 yards after Grant had been fouled, then Gerken had to move quickly to beat out Tom Conlon’s free-kick and keep the scores level at the break.

McGoldrick replaced Andre Dozzell at half-time, the substitute immediately setting up Bru whose effort was held by Jamie Jones.

Gerken pushed Conlon’s free-kick behind for a corner, then Luke Chambers blocked Wilkinson’s goalbound header but from the corner kick, Kennedy stabbed the ball home after Gerken had saved from Lee’s deflected shot.

McGoldrick sent a curler onto the roof of the net as Town looked for an immediate response, Grant then seeing his low drive held by Jones.

It needed an excellent save from Gerken to deny Liburd, who broke away from  Digby and got in on goal, McGoldrick then teasing a cross to the back post but to no avail. 

Teddy Bishop replaced Bru in Town’s second change midway through the half, the midfielder releasing McGoldrick 25 yards out and he exploded a shot at the far corner, Jones equal to the task.

Kennedy whipped a left footer over the bar as Stevenage looked for a second goal, Grant and then McGoldrick responding for Town with shots but Jones and Boro held firm to book their place in the second round.

TOWN: Gerken, Chambers, Digby, Smith, Knudsen, Douglas, Bru (Bishop 68), Ward, Dozzell (McGoldrick 46), Grant, Sears. Subs not used: Bialkowski, Berra, Kenlock, Skuse, Morris. Booked: Smith.

STEVENAGE: Jones, Franks, Wilkinson, Gorman, Lee, Wells (Fox 60), Kennedy, Conlon (Tonge 87), McAnuff, Liburd (Godden 71), Henry. Subs not used: Day, Pett, Hyde, Donnellan. Booked: Lee, Henry.
Att: 6858


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