SWINDON Town’s FA Cup ambitions came to an end in the second round during a frantic game at Stevenage this afternoon as they slipped to a third defeat in a row.

Town produced a superb first-half rally to draw level after falling two goals in arrears, only for Stevenage’s Tom Pett to restore the home side’s lead in stoppage time.

David Flitcroft’s side pushed forward after the break but their hopes were killed off by a second-half double from Stevenage substitute Danny Newton.

Alex Samuel and Matt Godden had earlier put the home side in control with a goal each inside the opening 25 minutes but Town battled back through Amine Linganzi’s header and a superb strike from Matt Taylor direct from a corner.

Town were the first to threaten as they looked to cause the Stevenage back-line problems with their pace and a good ball from Paul Mullin sent Woolery into the box on the left. He was able to get to the ball ahead of onrushing keeper Joe Fryer but then could not quite pick out a team-mate.

Mullin then got on the end of a fine low cross from Taylor but saw his effort deflected out for a corner.

Stevenage then upped the ante and Luke Wilkinson met a cross from the right from Chris Whelpdale but sent his header straight at Lawrence Vigouroux before Godden then met a nice cutback from Pett but Matt Preston got in the way to block it behind.

Vigouroux then clawed away another Wilkinson header before only a goalline clearance prevented the hosts from getting their noses in front as Whelpdale picked out Godden with low ball but a flurry of Town bodies ushered the ball over the bar.

Stevenage did not have to wait much longer for the opening goal, though, as Whelpdale’s subsequent corner was headed back across goal by Wilkinson and Samuel was on hand to nod in at the back post after 18 minutes.

Town were then caught on the counter as the hosts doubled their lead just five minutes later. Swindon coughed up possession on the edge of the Stevenage box and the home side broke, with Godden threaded into acres of space in the visitors’ half to race forward and beat Vigouroux as he rushed from his line.

Despite the setbacks, Swindon raised their game and hauled themselves back into the contest just after the half-hour mark when Linganzi cut the deficit, sending a powerful header onto the bar and down over the line from a Taylor free-kick from the right.

James Dunne then stung the palms of Fryer with a rasping drive from the edge of the box before Joe Martin bundled behind his own goal just as Gordon looked to pounce on a fine low ball from Taylor.

That was the catalyst for Swindon restoring parity on the scoreboard, though, as Taylor’s devilish whipped corner from the right bamboozled Fryer and nestled into the far corner of the net.

After a brilliant fightback, the visitors were stung again in first-half stoppage time when Stevenage reclaimed the lead. Godden met a cross into the box and the dropping ball fell perfectly to Pett, who chested down and rifled home from the edge of the box.

Town looked to be positive after the restart and good work from Luke Norris, who replaced Woolery at the break, saw him win the ball back deep in the Stevenage half, allowing John Goddard to feed Mullin, who shot just wide.

The second period was always unlikely to match the frenetic nature of the first and play quietened down for a period, although that all changed midway through the half.

A late challenge from Martin sent Mullin crashing into the Stevenage dugout and the players then descended on the touchline. Staff and players squared up and the result was that referee Nicholas Kinseley sent Stevenage boss Darren Sarll and Town assistant manager Ben Futcher from the touchline.

Taylor continued to be a dangerous outlet for Town and another free-kick was met by Preston, with Fryer tipping over the bar.

However, Swindon’s challenge then got a lot stiffer as the home side restored their two-goal cushion with 18 minutes to play when substitute Newton planted a header home from Godden’s dinked ball.

Town missed a glorious chance to cut the deficit instantly when Norris climbed highest to meet a good ball in from Ben Purkiss but could only plant his header wide.

With Swindon flooding forward, they were always likely to leave themselves open at the back and Stevenage killed the game off with a fifth goal in the closing stages when Newton drove towards goal, skipped past Vigouroux and planted the ball into the net.

STEVENAGE: Fryer; Henry (capt), King, Wilkinson, Martin; Whelpdale, Smith, McKee, Pett; Godden (Conlon 84), Samuel (Newton 53). Subs not used: Day, Vancooten, Wilmot, Franks, Beautyman.

SWINDON TOWN: Vigouroux; Purkiss, Lancashire (capt), Preston, Taylor; Dunne, Linganzi, Goddard (Brophy 82); Mullin, Woolery (Norris 46), Gordon (H Smith 64). Subs not used: Charles-Cook, Robertson, Knoyle, Iandolo.

Referee: Nicholas Kinseley

Attendance: 1,883