Stevenage played out a goalless draw with Championship-side Reading this evening as their preparations for the forthcoming Sky Bet League 2 season continued at The Lamex Stadium.
Team news saw just the one change to the starting XI from Chesham with Harry Worley sitting this one out. Bira Dembele partnered Dean Wells at centre-back with a trialist playing at left-back.
After a quiet opening it took a great tackle by Charlie Lee to prevent Hal Robson-Kanu from bursting through on goal after seven minutes. The Welsh international was to go on have a busy first half hour for the Royals.
A minute later Boro had the ball in the back of the net when Dembele jumped with McCarthy and nodded home, but the referee blew for a foul, the goal was ruled out and the game remained goalless.
Just past the 15 minute mark good persistence from Adam Marriott saw the striker rob the Royals defence of possession and play the ball across the edge of the box, but McCarthy was equal to Bond’s shot and turned it behind.
Robson-Kanu was central to pretty much all of Reading's attacking play with his midfield constantly looking for ways of playing in the front-man. On the one occasion he found himself in-between the Boro defence he glanced a 22nd minute header wide, with Michael Hector blazing over moments later.
Robson-Kanu earned himself a daft caution on the half-hour when he stupidly blocked Boro from taking a free-kick before the Welshman failed to recover from a knock after a Lee challenge and was replaced by Jack Stacey.
Despite the visitors controlling much of the play it was Stevenage who continued to create the best of the chances as the half progressed. First Pett curled a shot just wide after Walton had found him in the box with a great volleyed pass. The linesman’s flag then denied Marriott who timed his run onto a Charles through-ball fractionally too early. His finish past McCarthy, however, remained impressive even if it didn’t trouble the scoreboard.
Nick Blackman was the first to have a pop at goal in the second half, finding space on the edge of the Boro box but Sam Beasant was equal to it with a low save.
At the other end Charles picked up possession in midfield and set off towards goal before seeing a shot blocked by a retreating defender. Fortunately that block only found its way out to Deacon, whose cross to the back post was perfect for Pett but the youngster blazed his volley over.
Both sides were working hard and having good moments in possession but neither really created much going forward, with both defences on top. At the back for Boro both Wells and Dembele got stronger as the game went on with their midfield also industrious in front of them. Whelpdale and a trialist replaced Deacon and Charles as Boro made changes during the half, with Okenabirhie also replacing the hardworking Marriott late on.
It was Marriott who had the best chance of the half for Stevenage with 16 minutes remaining, finding himself with a sight of goal in the box but his curling effort was turned behind by McCarthy at full stretch in the game’s outstanding save.
Beasant had to be alert to keep out a couple of late Reading efforts as the Royals pushed on in the final minutes, but neither team could force a winner and had to settle for a draw.
Whilst Boro have shown their attacking threat in their six games prior to this, tonight they were able to show their resilience and defensive qualities. Coventry City are next up on Saturday afternoon in what with prove probably their most realistic test to date ahead of the start of the season a week later.
Stevenage: Beasant, Lee, Wells, Dembele, trialist, Pett, Walton, Bond, Deacon (Whelpdale 62), Charles (trialist 70), Marriott (Okenabirhie 84)
Subs not used: Day, Ashton