Chris Beardsley rescued a point with a late equaliser as Stevenage twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
Nicky Hunt saw red after just two minutes to give Boro the numerical advantage but two Sean Maguire goals either side of a Simon Walton penalty gave Stanley a half-time lead. Stevenage pushed forward in the second half and it looked like being a frustrating afternoon until Beardsley smashed home with minutes remaining to secure a draw.
Stevenage made just one change from the side that beat Portsmouth in midweek with Simon Walton coming in to midfield for Tom Conlon, who dropped to the bench.
Boro’s last visit to Accrington in 2011 saw late drama with a Chris Beardsley winner and we had early drama here with a dismissal inside two minutes. Nicky Hunt’s aerial challenge on Charlie Lee on the halfway line looked innocuous enough but referee Mathieson saw differently and gave the former Bolton man his marching orders with a straight red.
With a man advantage it looked a promising start for Stevenage, however what was to follow for the next 45 minutes was anything but comfortable. Constantly looking to hit Boro on the counter Accrington remained a threat throughout and with Graham Westley's men pushing up it left plenty of space behind the visiting defence, if Wells or Dembele were beaten to the ball.
Chris Whelpdale had a 10th minute shot comfortably saved by Scott Davies until Boro had a scare minutes later when Maguire latched onto a missed header by Wells, only for Dembele to rescue the situation with a crucial tackle.
Boro failed to heed that warning, however, as Accrington took the lead in their next attack. Again a long ball down the side was missed by Wells and this time Maguire made no mistake, latching onto Josh Windass’ cut-back to slot home for 1-0 with 14 minutes on the clock.
A goal down, Stevenage hit back immediately. Pett scampered down the right flank and swung in a cross which saw contact with a Stanley hand inside the box. Mr Mathieson pointed to the spot and up-stepped Simon Walton to send Davies the wrong way. 1-1.
Chris Beardsley missed two tough half-chances and Dembele was just beaten to a Walton free-kick by Davies on the half hour as Boro looked to pick up the momentum. Walton and Parrett both saw efforts blocked within a matter of seconds as one goalmouth scramble looked promising but Accrington stuck bodies in the way and cleared the danger.
However when Day had to make a good save from Windass with six minutes of the half remaining, it sparked Stanley back to life and within seconds they retook the lead. Day’s original save saw the ball go out for a throw and when that throw was laid off into Maguire’s path, he made no mistake for his second of the game from close range.
Bruno Andrade came on for Chris Whelpdale at the start of the second half as the two teams traded periods of possession without creating too much. Stevenage were invited to push forward with Stanley again favouring the counter-attack, a ploy that nearly worked again with Josh Windass going close on two occasions to increasing the hosts’ advantage.
However Stevenage eventually started to create chances with Walton flashing a great 62nd minute ball across goal for nobody to tuck home and Dean Parrett stinging Davies’ hands with a fierce drive from 20 yards moments later.
Tom Conlon and Jack Jebb came on to offer fresh legs in the middle of the park and it seemed to have the desired effect with Boro slowly wrestling the bulk of possession back and again probing the Stanley defence.
Bruno Andrade finally got a chance to show his pace with 15 minutes left with a good run down the right which won Boro a corner. Charlie Lee met Walton’s delivery but saw his header bounce down and into Davies’ arms as Boro’s frustration continued.
Parrett saw a free-kick deflect behind and Conlon saw a 87th minute header fly straight into the ‘keepers arms as Boro kept up the pressure. It looked like being one of those days until Stevenage struck late – Jebb pinged a beauty of a ball out to Andrade, his cross was met by Bira Dembele and there was Chris Beardsley to smash home an equaliser.
Four minutes added time came and went as Stevenage picked up what could prove a vital point in this playoff race. A win against Carlisle next weekend will secure a playoff place and tickets for that massive game can be found here
Accrington: Davies, Buxton, Joyce, Jones, Winnard, Windass, Mingoia, Hunt, Maguire (Gornell 75), Atkinson, Conneely
Subs not used: Warner, Liddle, McCartan, Naismith, Gilchrist, Barry
Stevenage: Day, Bond (Conlon 62), Wells, Dembele, Okimo, Whelpdale (Andrade 46), Walton (Jebb 78), Parrett, Pett, Lee, Beardsley
Subs not used: Beasant, Worley, Ashton, Millard
Attendance: 1,352 (132 away)
Referee: Scott Mathieson