A youthful Stevenage secured a 1-1 draw in their final pre-season game at St Albans City this evening.
A neat Dale Gorman equaliser cancelled out a Saints goal on the hour in a competitive game against the Conference South newcomers.
Stevenage named a young line-up with only Chris Day and Simon Walton offering experience in an XI containing four scholars, four trialists and Ryan Johnson.
Playing with such a new team against a side promoted last season, Boro were always likely to be up against it in the early stages and thus it proved. Warren McBean headed wide when well placed and Elliott Buchanan fired straight at Day as the hosts threatened in the opening minutes.
Sam Corcoran saw a 35-yard effort deflect wide and Day again denied Buchanan as the Saints continued to press throughout the half, albeit without finding the back of the net. Boro themselves were restricted only to the odd half-chance with George Casey volleying over a Simon Walton cross in his side’s only real clear effort of the opening 45.
Within minutes of the second half, however, Boro were already looking more threatening, playing with a higher intensity and finding themselves much further up the pitch. Former Stevenage ‘keeper Joe Welch had to be alert to claim a couple of dangerous crosses and Ben Kennedy nearly found himself through on goal but was beaten by the pace of the ball.
For all their improved forward play, Boro fell behind on the hour mark when James Connolly picked up a cross from the left and had time to slot past Day. That lead was nearly doubled when sub Taylor Miles smashed in an effort five minutes later, but Day was there with the save of the game to deny him.
Walton nodded over as Boro looked to hit back and that they did less than 10 minutes after falling behind. Fresh from returning victorious from the Milk Cup with Northern Ireland U20s, Dale Gorman latched onto a cross from the right and lashed home into the bottom corner from the edge of the area for a superb equaliser.
Matt Taylor hit the side netting when it looked easier to score and Day had to be alert with a couple of punches as the Saints rallied, looking for a second late on. However Stevenage stood firm to record an encouraging draw – considering the makeshift look to their team - in their final pre-season encounter.
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Stevenage: Day, Casey (Kerr 90), Walton, Johnson, Millard, Gorman (Jones 79), Trialist, Trialist, Kennedy (Storer 64), Trialist, Calcutt
Sub not used: Reading