This was the one game that no Harriers fan was really looking forward to. Although we have been in excellent form lately and in the middle of a seven game unbeaten stretch it was no comparison to Stevenage's twenty four game unbeaten run.
Today we need worry no longer. Our run has now been extended to eight and Stevenage have seen their own personal best destroyed in tatters by a second half performance from the Harriers that lifted Aggborough to the rafters. We have also put four points between the sides in the play-off race and set ourselves up nicely for the trip to Forest Green on Tuesday.
Starting with one change to the side, with Martin Riley coming back in, that destroyed Woking during the week, we looked very nervous at first and allowed Stevenage to dominate the game. That domination reaped it's dividend just seven minutes into the game when a long kick from the Boro keeper Chris Day found Steve Morison near to the edge of our box. Morison then flicked the ball past Keith Lowe who un-characteristically slipped letting Morison cross the ball to the unmarked Lee Boylan to convert easily.
The goal was something that we didn't want but it wasn't the end of the world and we knew that such a mistake wouldn't happen again and we'd soon pull the goal back.
For the next fifteen minutes we laboured in vain to get anything going. Keith Lowe tried to erase the memory of his mistake with a free kick that wasn't as good as the one at Woking and Mark Creighton tried his luck from thirty yards out but the ball got beaten away by a defender. Just when we looked to be about to make the breakthrough a tragic mistake from Adam Bartlett gifted Stevenage their second goal.
Lee Baker played the ball back to Barts but for some unfathomable reason the usually unflappable keeper chose to move the ball across his box rather than kick it upfield. Mitchell Cole came rushing in and Barts panicked and weakly cleared the ball into the path of Morison. He played it back in to Cole but Bartlett got to it first but it then squirmed away from him and allowed Cole to follow up and put it into the net.
We were looking defeat straight in the face and couldn't believe how inept our usually strong defence were. But then a stroke of good fortune came our way.
Russ Penn was trying to rally the troops and showed them how to do it when he cleanly robbed Danny Murphy of the ball on the halfway line. Murphy got what he thought was his revenge a few minutes later when Russ had the ball in a similar position and went in on him from behind with both feet.
The referee immediately ran over and pulled Murphy away from Russ's angry team mates. At first it looked like Murphy was just going to receive a yellow card but his persistent arguing changed the ref's mind and a red card came out.
Now up against ten men we should have been able to get on top of the game but we were playing it too narrow down the middle and against Stevenage's defenders we weren't getting a look in. The free kick from the original offence went nowhere and we managed to get our first corner just after that but it was obvious that a change was needed.
Off went Darryl Knights and on came Martin Brittain to give us a bit of width and that's just what he did in glorious fashion.
Five minutes before the break the Stevenage defender, Ronny Henry, suddenly dropped to the floor for no apparent reason in the middle of the pitch. The ref went over to him and called for a stretcher so it was certain that he was in some kind of pain but Henry seemed to be refusing treatment and a stretcher so for two minutes we were stood there thinking what was going on.
This inaction was getting to us and the jeers and catcalls started up until finally the apparently injured man left the field and was taken straight down the tunnel. Mark Albrighton came on in place of him.
With the added width we now started to take the game to Stevenage more and the pace of Brittain was leaving the Stevenage defenders in his wake. He got to the byeline and crossed to the far post but the ball was put out for a corner and from that corner, which he took, we finally managed to pull a goal back.
Brit whipped in the corner straight to the keeper but Day flapped at it and could only push it out as far as Matty Barnes-Homer. He doesn't usually turn that kind of gift down and he didn't this time as his header flew into the back of the net at just the right time for us.
We now had forty five minutes to get back into the game.