Stevenage showed how easy it can be to undo good work after fighting to come from behind at the Lamex Stadium, only to surrender their lead late on against Bury.
Despite coming from a goal down to lead, sloppy play late on allowed Kevin Blackwell’s side to take a point from the unbeaten Boro, who will look at a campaign without loss so far, as one with too many draws.
Bury took the lead in the tie as Tom Hopper headed an effort into the far corner but the record books from this season painted a picture of an unfinished story. The only time Bury had led so far this term was away to Doncaster Rovers, a game that they ultimately lost 2-1.
By half time an equaliser hadn’t been found but it didn’t take long for Stevenage to get into their stride in the second period. First Marcus Haber headed home from a Luke Freeman corner to pull the game level and just a minute later Greg Tansey added another spectacular effort to his youtube playlist, curling in a beautiful goal from range.
It wouldn’t be an exact repeat of the fixture at the Keepmoat Stadium though because Bury equalised in the closing five minutes. Mark Cullen was the man to find the back of the net with a simple finis after David Worrall worked hard on the left wing and drilled the ball across the six yard box.
Prior to kick off a minutes applause was observed brilliantly around the Lamex in memory of Brian Hierons, who sadly passed away last weekend. The work that he put in for the club for more than thirty years played a part in the success that we have experienced on the field and best wishes are passed on to all of his friends and family from the club.
Back to the football, and Gary Smith made three changes to the side that drew with Doncaster Rovers a week earlier; Darius Charles made his return from injury with Miguel Comminges dropping to the bench, whilst Luke Freeman and Greg Tansey also returned to the XI in place of Oliver Risser and Filipe Morais, both on amongst the subs.
Boro began the game well and two corners inside the opening quarter of an hour could well have yielded an opening goal; the second was the most troublesome as somehow the ball made it to the back post where a lucky bounce dropped it to the feet of Roberts in front of goal. The centre-back turned and struck it cleanly but ‘keeper Trevor Carson made himself big and done his job well. A Tansey turn and shot minutes later was created beautifully but proved more dangerous to the away fans in the south stand than Carson.
Despite the early promise the bottom of the table side stunned the hosts with an opener on 25 minutes. Hopper netted with a looping header after a free kick into the box found the top of his head, Day was beaten at his far post and the yellow shirts wheeled to the corner flag in celebration.
Before the half hour mark he could have had his second of the afternoon as Ashton stood off and let a long ball come down before the on-loan Leicester City man drilled a shot into the ground which very nearly bounced over Day.
Looking to pull level before the break, Boro attacked down the right wing. Akins made space before cutting the ball back nicely to Dunne in the box but as he looked to pull the trigger referee Graham Scott pulled play back as Adam Lockwood went to ground injured. After minimal treatment the midfielder continued play and rather than give the ball back the Bury ‘keeper looked for a pass up field. It was a disappointing lack of sportsmanship from the away side and the home supporters showed their annoyance with a chorus of boos.
At the break Ashton was substituted for Risser with the on-loan Swindon Town man slotting into central defence. Inside the opening minute Akins tested Carson with a low drive, it lacked the venom needed to find the back of the net but showed an attacking intent that was perhaps missing in the first half.
That continued into the next ten minutes, and when Akins won a corner after a cross was headed out of play a chance to score was given. Freeman in his orange boots placed the ball and sent a deep cross to the back post – Haber rose well and directed his header downwards, it somehow wriggled under the ‘keeper and over the line and Boro were level.
Amazingly just a minute later Stevenage took the lead and Tansey had another blockbuster effort for the highlights reel. The Boro fans were treated to some great work down the right from Akins and a lovely weighted pass back to Tansey, who beautifully curled it into the top corner.
Morais, on for Grant who seemed to have picked up a minor injury, attempted a curled effort which was just over the bar as the game approached its final ten minutes. Bury were still battling and with just a one goal lead there would always be a danger of letting the three points slip. Shroot came on for Freeman as Boro aimed to extend their advantage.
That warning was not heeded by the home side and with six minutes to go the second equaliser of the game came. Second half sub Cullen poked home from three yards after Worrall had broken well down the left wing and squared it across the face of goal.
It looked as though either team would be taking three points as each side traded blow for a winner; Hopper headed just wide of the post and Cullen tested Day with a low drive, meanwhile Shroot saw a shot from the edge of the box blocked well.
Neither side were to leave with the loot though and despite some late attacking forays Boro were left with just a point.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day; Gray, Ashton (Risser 46), Roberts, Charles; Dunne, Grant (Morais 71); Akins, Tansey, Freeman (Shroot 81); Haber
Unused Subs: Arnold, Ball, Comminges, Lopez
Att: 2660 (163 away)