Stevenage secured their second 2-2 draw at home in pre-season in a lively game against Championship outfit Millwall this afternoon.
Boro trailed 1-0 at the break to a Nicky Bailey goal but two sublime free-kicks from Simon Walton turned the game on its head. Jermaine Easter equalised on the hour from the spot for the Lions and both sides had chances to win it but the game ended in a stalemate in hot conditions at The Lamex Stadium.
Graham Westley’s starting XI saw recalls for many of the side that started last weekend’s fixture with West Ham with Charlie Lee named at right-back and Tom Pett partnering Adam Marriott up front.
The opening moments of this game were disrupted thanks to an early injury to Millwall midfielder Nicky Bailey, who went down after an innocuous looking challenge on Pett. But after treatment the midfielder picked himself up and within minutes had given the visitors the lead, slotting home a Scott McDonald cross from close range with 8 minutes on the clock.
Ian Holloway’s men seemed content to retain possession and make Boro run around in the heat, with Stevenage’s first half chance coming on 16 minutes from a Walton corner. The skipper for the day’s cross was met at the back post by Dean Wells but nobody could turn his header back across goal in.
Roarie Deacon went close just before the half hour when he brilliantly kept possession just inside the box with a couple of flicks before seeing his volley deflect wide for a corner. However, after taking a couple of hefty hits in the half he was replaced shortly afterwards by Okenabirhie.
Stevenage created their best two chances just before the break, both through Chris Whelpdale. First a Pett cross from the left deflected into his path on the edge of the box, but he failed to connect properly with the ball and his first time shot bobbled wide. Then heading into injury time, the winger showed good feet to evade three players before firing low but straight at Forde.
Millwall changed their entire XI at half-time and it wasn’t long until sub keeper Stephen Bywater was picking the ball out of the back of his net as Boro equalised. Okenabirhie was fouled on the right hand side of the box and up-stepped Walton to curl a low effort around the wall and into the bottom corner.
Buoyed by their goal Stevenage pushed forward and came close to a spectacular second through Tom Pett. Okenabirhie neatly flicked a long ball into the former Wealdstone man, who cut inside and tried a curler into the far corner which Bywater tipped over in spectacular style.
However it wasn’t long until Boro did take the lead and it was through that man Walton again. Stevenage were handed another free-kick on the edge of the box on 54 minutes, this time on the left, and Walton repeated his trick by finding the opposite corner with a low effort.
John Marquis had a header ruled out for offside and Jermaine Easter failed to hit the target from close range, as Millwall pushed for an equaliser which eventually came on the hour from the spot. Pett was adjudged to have fouled Fred Onyedinma in the box and Easter made amends for his earlier miss by sending Beasant the wrong way.
Youngsters Ryan Johnson, Conor Calcutt, Ryan Johnson and second year scholar Ed Jackson all came on during the last quarter of an hour as Graham Westley opted for changes in the heat, with both Johnson and Jackson putting in good tackles during their time on the pitch.
Marquis clipped the top of the bar with a late header and Beasant did well to hold a fierce effort from Williams with Millwall players closing in for the rebound, before the referee called time on an entertaining game.
Next up for Boro are consecutive trips to Tonbridge Angels and Chesham before Reading are our visitors here at The Lamex Stadium in 10 days time.
Stevenage: Beasant, Lee (Ashton 64), Worley (Jackson 83), Wells, Dembele, Whelpdale (Johnson 66), Bond, Walton, Deacon (Okenabirhie 35 (Gordon 88)), Pett, Marriott (Calcutt 77)
Millwall 1st half: Forde, Edwards, Dunne, Nelson, Briggs, Bailey, Upson, Chaplow, Martin, MacDonald, Gregory
Millwall 2nd half: Bywater, Beevers, Webster, Williams, Malone, Wright, Siafa, Onyedinma, Woolford, Marquis, Easter
Sub not used: Goodman