Stevenage earned a point in their opening League One fixture against Carlisle United, with a late Robin Shroot goal stealing a draw.
The first half was played under intense heat and in truth it affected things; both sides looked to be lagging and neither came close to scoring.
There were chances in the second period but the game still lacked a real cutting edge; that was until Carlisle took the lead. Matty Robson beat the offside trap and raced through before firing his side into the ascendancy.
With time running out Robin Shroot reacted first when Adam Collin parried a Lucas Akins shot and slipped the ball into the back of the net to share the spoils.
Boro will be happy with the knowledge that they claimed a draw against one of last season’s play off rivals, despite playing way below the standard that both management and supporters will expect this season.
Gary Smith named the same starting XI that began the victory over AFC Wimbledon in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening, with the exciting trio of Luke Freeman, Greg Tansey and Filipe Morais behind tall striker Marcus Haber. Matt Ball returned from Under 21 duties with Northern Ireland and was named as the seventh substitute.
The away side dominated the opening proceedings and looked dangerous in possession, in particular Liam Noble threatened – a long range curled effort was just wide of the mark but his passing also caused problems.
As the sun beamed down on the Lamex and this forced the referee into stopping the game for players to take on fluids midway through the first half; you could call it a drinks break. Boro seemed to perk up afterwards and Haber had a decent chance just before the half hour mark after beating two defenders but his shot hit the side netting.
Into the second half and it showed a Boro side that were coming out of their shell more, the five corners won by the 52 second minute conveyed that dominance to anyone not at the ground and it was the third of those that came closest to producing an opener when Roberts’ back post header was deflected out of play.
Neither team were really testing the opposition ‘keeper as much as they’d have liked, Chris Day saw very little action but with little over fifteen minutes to go he was picking the ball out of his net. A ball over the defence found Robson on the left hand side cutting in, he ran on well and blasted a low finish into the far corner. There were protests from Darius Charles regarding whether the goal scorer was onside but they fell on deaf ears and the celebrations continued in the away stand.
Akins and Shroot were both introduced in the second period, the latter would be hoping to continue blistering goal scoring form from pre-season and with ten minutes to go had a chance in the box; a corner fell awkwardly to the midfielder who done well to even get a shot away but it merely cannoned off of a defender and the chance passed.
The game seemed to be getting away from Smith’s men, the heat would no doubt have taken its toll on the players, but the same could have been said for Carlisle. With two minutes left that was proved as an equaliser came from nowhere. A combination of the two substitutes lead to it, first Akins shot from range and his effort was too hot to handle for Collin, he spilled it and Shroot pounced immediately to hit it over the line.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day; Gray, Roberts, N’Gala, Charles; Dunne, Grant; Freeman, Tansey (Akins 64), Morais (Shroot 78); Haber (Thalassitis 90)
Unused Subs: Arnold, Ashton, Ball, Furlonge
Att: 2736 (456 away)