Stevenage secured a point in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Bradford City this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
A Greg Tansey gave Boro a 1-0 lead at half-time only for Kyel Reid to curl home an equaliser after the break. An end-to-end game saw both teams continue to create chances but there were no further goals, giving both teams a point apiece.
Graham Westley made two changes to his starting XI with Jordan Burrow replacing the injured Darius Charles up front and Greg Tansey coming in for Jimmy Smith on the right flank. There was also a place on the bench for striker Dani Lopez.
The first effort of the game went to Robin Shroot after just two minutes when the winger found himself in space in the inside left channel and curled an effort just wide of the post.
Good interplay between Tansey, Gray and Dunne gave Luke Freeman a sight of goal in Boro’s next effort but his shot sailed high and wide.
Bradford advanced and Nakhi Wells saw an effort deflect comfortably for Chris Day before Stevenage took the lead from the penalty spot after 21 minutes.
Good work by Greg Tansey down the right saw him beat one defender and advance down the flank before cutting the ball back for Freeman who saw his shot blocked by a hand. Tansey sent McLaughlin the wrong way from the spot to put Boro 1-0 up.
Just minutes later it was nearly two. A quick free-kick from Doughty found Shroot all alone in the box and his shot was turned behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece a Dunne volley looked to be flying into the back of the net but was cleared off the line at the last second.
Bradford woke up and should really have equalised when Wells met a superb far post cross by Reid, only for the Bermudan to somehow fire over from six yards. The Bantams kept up the pressure and forced a succession of corners, from which Gary Jones headed wide and Reid then saw a snapshot fly high and wide.
At the other end Boro created two further chances to double their lead before the break. Michael Doughty burst forward from midfield and saw the ball handled on the edge of the box. Tansey’s free-kick was deflected behind and from the resulting corner Ashton’s back post header was saved by a scrambling McLoughlin.
As the game entered injury time good work by Deacon down the left saw the former Arsenal youngster feed Shroot, who needed no invitation to shoot and force a final corner of the half.
Freeman saw a low effort bounce just wide of a worried McLaughin’s post as Boro started the second half brightly.
But it was Bradford who equalised just two minutes after the restart, Kyel Reid curling home a free-kick from 25 yards after Boro were penalised.
Boro responded through Roarie Deacon, who saw a shot from the left flash wide, before Freeman was the next to test the Bradford goal, turning and firing in an effort from distance which McLaughin parried before gathering.
Bradford enjoyed a spell of sustained possession and looked threatening going forward but Boro held firm and Chris Day wasn’t forced into any saves of note.
Oumare Tounkara came on for the hardworking Jordan Burrow as Graham Westley made his first change just past the hour but it was the visitors who kept up the pressure. Gary Thompson saw a weak effort just wide and Andrew Davies saw a header also fly past the post.
At the other end Luke Freeman saw a fierce shot deflect up and fall onto the top of the net and from the resulting corner Hartley saw an effort cleared off the line.
Dani Lopez came on for Greg Tansey on 73 minutes with Luke Freeman dropping back to left-wing having occupied a more forward position with Burrow for much of the game.
The dangerous Nakhi Wells forced the save of the game shortly afterwards from Chris Day with an acrobatic effort which Boro’s number 16 turned behind for a corner.
In a breathless second half the hosts went back up the other end with Tounkara nearly putting Boro 2-1 up when he found space and fired in a low effort, only for McLoughlin to superbly turn behind.
Freeman was next to test the Bantam’s ‘keeper after turning and shooting from outside the box but it was straight at McLaughlin. Bradford fans thought they had snuck a late winner through sub De Vita but his shot went into the side netting, much to their disappointment and the East Terrace’s delight.
Five minutes of injury time came and went, leaving both teams to take a point in an entertaining game.
Boro: Day, Gray, Ashton, Hartley, Deacon, Tansey (Lopez 73), Dunne, Doughty (Smith 84), Freeman, Shroot, Burrow (Tounkara 65)
Subs not used: Arnold, Jones, Heslop, Haber
Bradford: McLaughlin, Darby, Davis, McCardle, Meredith, Thompson (De Vita 70), Doyle (Ravenhill 70), Jones, Reid (Yeates 81), Wells, Hanson
Subs not used: Ripley, Taylor, McHugh, Connell