Who needs strikers? It seems it’s fashionable these days to play without them. For the trip to Tranmere Rovers on Saturday Graham Westley followed the trend set by Spain and Barcelona and sent his Stevenage side out loaded with midfielders.
The move was far from negative with the attacking threat of the likes of Luke Freeman, Robin Shroot and Greg Tansey in the side, but it allowed Boro to set a solid and fluid base to earn a point from a goalless draw.
Both sides enjoyed sustained periods of possession in the first half, but their efforts floundered on well-organised rearguards and misplaced final balls.
The main threats to Boro’s goal were self inflicted. Robin Shroot gave the ball away in midfield allowing Ryan Lowe to break clear but his surging run was thwarted by an excellent tackle from Michael Doughty. Later in the half Simon Heslop was at fault squandering possession just outside his own penalty area allowing Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro to stride forward and curl a shot against the foot of Chris Day’s left post.
For their part Boro offered a Luke Freeman drive that had Jason Mooney scrambling across his goal and a header from Jimmy Smith from a corner by Doughty that was saved comfortably by the goalkeeper.
The home side began the second period on the front foot and once again Day had to rely on his post to keep the ball from the net. This time it was a low 25-yard drive from Evan Horwood that struck the woodwork.
Soon after Westley rang the changes replacing Greg Tansey and Jimmy Smith with the striking dup of Oumare Tounkara and Jordan Burrow.
For Boro, despite enjoying long spells of possession, sights on goal were rare. Shroot and Doughty combined well but Shroot’s effort was blocked. Some smart control, a turn and Freeman looked set to open the scoring but he dragged his shot across goal.
But ultimately and despite much huffing and puffing the scoreline remained blank. The positives for Stevenage were that the unbeaten run now extends to three matches and another clean sheet and Westley’s rebuilt side continues to grow in confidence and belief.
Stevenage (4-3-3) Day – Gray, Ashton, Hartley, Deacon – Doughty (Sub: Wedgbury, 86min), Heslop, Tansey (Sub: Burrow, 61) – Shroot, Freeman, Smith (Sub: Tounkara, 46).
Substitutes not used: Arnold, Hills, Jones, Lopez