Steve-Evans-age cause cupset against young Royals


Stevenage maintain their 100% winning record for the 2022/23 season with an upset away at Championship side Reading to progress into the Carabao Cup 2nd Round thanks to a dramatic late Danny Rose goal.

Two divisions separate Reading and Stevenage in the football pyramid, but cup football can often bridge that gap and provide a variety of upsets.

With both sides buoyed by wins at the weekend, there was little to lose and everything to gain in this Carabao Cup fixture, with the opportunity to meet Premier League opposition in the second round.

There were also wholesale changes from both managers, but it was Stevenage who fielded an XI filled with more experience, whilst Paul Ince incorporated some of the Royals youngsters for this game.

This proved a telling factor as Stevenage unsettled their inexperienced hosts early on and, with just ten minutes gone, took the lead to put the upset on the cards.

Jake Reeves resisted the urge to shoot despite the shouts from the away end to find new signing Kane Smith. The 26-year-old joined from Boredom Wood in the summer, and linked up with his fellow full-back and new signing in Saxon Earley.

Incidentally, despite the difference seemingly being somewhat experienced based, it was a 19-year-old Norwich City academy prospect on loan at ‘Boro who slotted home at the back post, with Bouzanis scrambling across goal in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to parry the ball wide.

After going ahead, the visitors looked confident and comfortable in possession, in stark contrast to their hosts.

As the half wore on, the hosts crept into the Stevenage half without seriously troubling the backline of Steve Evans’ side.

Frustration built as the game petered towards half-time, with Reading unable to register a chance of note.

The visitors had seemingly been able to continue to stagnate the Royals, but as the game passed the hour mark the hosts found a breakthrough, with one of the youngsters getting his name on the scoresheet. Kelvin Ehibatiomhan had been living off of scraps up top for Paul Ince’s side, but he was played clean through with a pass that carved open the Stevenage defence, and the 19-year-old did not waste his opportunity as he slotted past Aaron Chapman.

Following the equaliser, the tide seemingly turned and the hosts looked far more comfortable in possession against their League Two opponents.

However, with the game seemingly destined for penalties, Stevenage grabbed a dramatic, yet somewhat bizarre late winner.

Dan Sweeney swept a seemingly scuffed ball in to the Reading area, but by some hook or crook the cross evaded all Reading defenders and ran all the way through to Danny Rose at the back post.

The 28-year-old could not believe his luck as he arrived unmarked to sweep home his first goal for the club, sending ‘Boro into the second round, despite a late penalty shout for the Royals.

Paul Ince’s side ultimately paid the price for fielding an XI filled with inexperienced players accustomed to academy football. Whilst Stevenage made just one less change to their starting XI, they called upon players who largely have a significant amount of first team experience.

Reading return to Championship action this Saturday as they travel to Yorkshire to play a potential relegation rival in Rotherham United, whereas Stevenage will find out their second round opponents after Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland before heading to the Bescot Stadium to play Walsall in League Two.

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