Boro draw at BournemouthStevenage added a point to the tally with a hard-fought draw with Bournemouth at the Goldsands Stadium.
Boro took a lead in at half time courtesy of a powerful Greg Tansey strike, and in the second half a resilient defence showed no signs of the 16 goals conceded in the 5 games previous. That was until a contentious decision left Mark Roberts and his team furious.
Matt Tubbs had the goal, a close range header, and whether he was offside will only be answered by the video tapes. After they were level the home side looked the most likely to score though and came close on a number of occasions.
As the game wore on things levelled out somewhat and both sides had chances to take all three points but in the end one apiece was the fair result.
Gary Smith was without Luke Freeman, who missed the game due to personal reasons, and the manager made two changes to the side that were defeated at Bramall Lane three days earlier. Anthony Grant returned to the starting line-up in a holding role in front of the defence, whilst Bondz N’Gala partnered Roberts at the back. In a tactical move, Lee Hills started the game on the left of the midfield with Darius Charles at left back.
Neither side could claim total domination in the opening ten minutes but soon after that the Cherries stepped up the pace; Lee Barnard could have opened the deadlock with 13 minutes on the clock but that number proved unlucky for the on-loan Southampton striker who saw his close range strike saved expertly by Steve Arnold.
The football from Boro was far calmer than that on show in the game previous and the build-up play more patient, however no clear cut chances were created. Arnold was forced into another save when a close range header almost caught him out to his left, but just a minute later it was David James in trouble.
Arnold took his goal kick and the ball was headed out of play for a throw on the right hand side, it was played up the line to Haber who squared it to Tansey on the edge of the box – he took a touch before rocketing the ball goal wards, it crashed off the underside of the bar and over the line and Stevenage had a precious lead.
Boro faced some long range efforts but Captain Roberts was bravely throwing himself in anything that was remotely on target. His side made it to the break with their lead intact and would have been pleased with their efforts in the opening 45 minutes.
Lewis Grabban, fresh from a hat trick on Saturday, very nearly turned provider 12 minutes after the break with a brilliant cross from the left wing looping over Arnold’s head, it found Simon Francis it the back post but his effort fell onto the roof of the net. A minute later Charlie Daniels put a low effort wide after driving from left back to the edge of the Boro box, by the time he managed a shot his legs were out of gas.
The home side had Stevenage under the cosh and were looking to convert their dominance into an equaliser, in a rare attack for Boro they won a corner but it was headed clear by the Bournemouth defence.
Hills was taken off with Robbie Rogers replacing him; the former Palace man has gone without first team football for a long while and was understandably tiring after his second game in four days. Moments later Patrick Agyemang also came on in a straight swap for Haber.
Quarter of an hour remained when Roberts furiously confronted the linesman. His decision, or rather lack of it, had gifted an equaliser to the home side as Tubbs, on at half time, headed home from close range. Boro’s Captain was certain that he was offside when the ball was played it but without a flag raised the goal stood.
There looked like there would only be one winner, and it didn’t seem like it’d be Stevenage. Bournemouth pressed and carved out chance after chance, Addison headed wide and Grabban shot over the bar. Smith showed positive intentions though; Shroot came on with ten minutes to go.
Neither side could steal a victory in added time and the shares were spoiled, next for Boro is a home tie against Tramere Rovers.
Stevenage (4-1-4-1): Arnold; Gray, N’Gala, Roberts, Charles; Grant; Akins, Dunne, Tansey (Shroot 80), Hills (Rogers 67); Haber (Agyemang 71)
Unused Subs: Day, Iro, Risser, Comminges
Att: 5504 (136 away)