Stevenage picked up a point with a goalless draw away at Carlisle this afternoon.
In a low-key affair Boro were grateful to Chris Day for making a handful of good saves throughout the game, whilst up the other end Michael Doughty spurned the best of the Boro chances.
Graham Westley made just two changes to the side which picked up a point at home to Preston on Tuesday. Roarie Deacon missed out through injury and Dean Parrett dropped to the bench, with both John Mousinho and Michael Doughty starting.
It was a lively start to the game with both sides creating chances in the opening minutes. First up was Boro, with former United man Francois Zoko picking up possession halfway inside the Carlisle half and dribbling his way into the box. His low effort was on target but lacked power and Pickford saved easily.
At the other end James Berrett tried his luck from outside the Boro area, forcing Day to parry behind for his first save of the game. From the resulting corner Danny Redmond picked up possession at the far side of the box, escaped the attention of a nearby defender and curled just wide.
Seven minutes in Sam Byrne latched onto a poor header from Jon Ashton to break free, but back came Darius Charles to clear behind, with Boro clearing the resulting corner.
Curtis Obeng has enjoyed some decent performances so far during his loan spell and after one lung-bursting run down the right flank he was hauled down, handing Boro a dangerous 10th minute free-kick. The set-piece came to nothing but it certainly alerted the Cumbrians to the searing pace of Boro’s on-loan defender.
13 minutes in Charles, who was playing at left-back, went to dribble out of defence but overran the ball and brought down Pearson with a crunching tackle. The home faithful cried for a straight red but the referee remained calm and gave Darius a yellow.
Obeng was at it again not long afterwards, bombing down the right and cutting the ball back into the box for Zoko. His shot was cleared but only as far as Doughty who turned and floated a right-footed effort over the bar.
Whilst real clear-cut chances were few and far between in the opening 45 it was Carlisle doing much of the pressing, winning a number of corners. Stevenage stood firm, however, and were able to clear on each occasion.
Day had to be sharp to keep a low Byrne effort from creeping into the bottom corner, with Chris Chantler then trying his luck from 30 yards which had the experienced keeper at full stretch. Fortunately for him and Boro, the ball flew wide.
Doughty tried an effort from distance in a rare foray forward for Stevenage, who were then lucky to survive a real chance moments before half time.
A superb kick from Pickford found Amoo on the right flank, who remained patient against Ashton before winning a corner off the Boro skipper. Lee Miller met the outswinging delivery but fortunately his header towards the back post bounced just wide.
Sam Wedgbury replaced Ashton in a surprise substitution at the start of the second half, with Mousinho dropping into the heart of the defence.
Doughty was finding plenty of space between the Carlisle midfield and defence and on 52 minutes he broke forward and found Zoko. The ball eventually made its way out to Freeman on the right, who advanced along the edge of the box unchallenged before seeing a shot blocked. He recovered possession and stood a ball up to the back post, but Wedgbury’s header was easy for Pickford.
Moments later the midfielder again found space but his through-ball to Akins was just too long and the danger was cleared.
Mousinho had to be at his best in his new defensive role to deny the tricky Byrne a chance on goal, whilst the pacey Amoo hit the side-netting shortly afterwards with a fierce cross-cum-shot after the winger was found in space out wide.
Just past the hour Smith found Zoko, who beat Brown down the left channel and centred a low cross which was cleared behind, with Wedgbury all set for a tap-in.
The two teams continued to trade chances. Doughty blazed one shot over and curled another straight at Pickford, whilst at the other end Day palmed away a fierce effort from Miller and then saw a James Pearson header from a corner fly into his arms.
Berrett forced Day to concede a corner with another long-range effort, from which Miller looked to get on the end of a loose ball but his effort went over the bar in a rare moment of real panic for Boro.
Unlike Tuesday night, four minutes of added time went without drama as Stevenage picked up a point and made it six games unbeaten. Whilst Tranmere’s victory at Notts County means Boro slip back into the relegation zone for now, Graham Westley’s men will no doubt be feeling confident ahead of next weekend’s visit of MK Dons.
Carlisle: Pickford, Chimbonda (Meppen-Walter 51), Chantler, Brown, Pearson, Amoo, Berrett, Potts, Redmond (Symington 75), Byrne, Miller
Subs not used: Fleming, Lynch, Brough, Guy, Novo
Stevenage: Day, Obeng, Ashton (Wedgbury 46), Dembele, Akins, Mousinho, Smith, Doughty (Morais 90), Freeman (Burrow 90), Charles, Zoko
Subs not used: Arnold, Parrett, Reid, Hartley
Referee: Mr J Adcock
Attendance: 3672 (97 away)