Stevenage picked up a decent point with a hardworking display in a goalless draw against Bury this evening at The Lamex Stadium.
Graham Westley made four changes from the side that started the weekend defeat at Mansfield, welcoming Jon Ashton, Simon Walton, Andy Bond and Chris Beardsley back into the team. Bira Dembele, Danny Johnson and Ben Kennedy dropped to the bench and were joined by the returning Roarie Deacon and Ton Conlon amongst others.
Chris Whelpdale blazed a Walton corner over in Boro’s first chance of the game on 6 minutes but it wasn’t long until the Shakers were threatening – Chris Day palming over a Craig Jones cross that looked like it might be looping in.
Bury were having plenty of the ball and kept probing the Boro final third, but the home defence stood firm with Ashton and Wells heading way anything that came their way aerially and the team defending well as a whole on the occasions the visitors won a corner.
At the other end the pace of Bruno Andrade looked to be Boro’s biggest threat and with 20 minutes on the clock he twisted and turned his way to the edge of the box. Looking for options, but not seeing any obvious ones, the winger elected to try his luck himself and saw Pope gather well in the Shakers' goal.
For all their neat passing going forward Bury weren’t really testing Day with a 37th minute Nathan Cameron shot over the only real effort of note prior to the break.
The visitors came out after the interval and continued to push with Chris Hussey whipping in some high quality corners with his left foot. Fortunately Boro stood firm.
On his return to first team action Andy Bond was enjoying a decent game in the middle of the park, picking up the pieces in front of the home defence and just prior to the hour he won a free-kick after being fouled whilst shielding the ball. He was to go on to win praise from his manager after the game after an industrious performance.
The lively Danny Rose had the ball in the back of the net moments later for Bury as he broke through the defence, only to be denied by the offside flag.
The game, not helped by the pitch, was turning scrappy with a number of fouls leading to a very stop-start half. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, the non-award of a free-kick on Andrade as he beat two men on the touchline before seemingly being fouled certainly raised the volume of the home faithful.
With 15 minutes remaining Bury won a free-kick 25 yards out, just to the left of Boro’s area. Up stepped Tutte with a spectacular effort that looked like heading in until a last gasp paw from Day clawed it away – a fine save.
Both sides had chances in the final stages - Whelpdale fired over, Beardsley tried to catch Pope out with a speculative shot and Day was again forced into action to parry a Hussey free-kick – but with nobody breaking the deadlock the teams had to settle for a point apiece.
A draw against possibly one of the best footballing sides in the division is a decent return for a hard night’s work, particularly with the squad stretched as it is. The injury list continues to grow however and Boro fans would not have enjoyed the sight of Darius Charles hobbling off in pain in the final moments, particularly with a tough trip to an improving Hartlepool coming up this weekend.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Wells, Charles (Dembele 90), Whelpdale, Bond, Walton, Andrade (N’Guessan 75), Lee, Beardsley
Subs not used: Beasant, D.Johnson, Conlon, Kennedy, Deacon
Bury: Pope, Jones (Nardiello 60), McNulty, Tutte (Adams 84), Etuhu, Rose (Hope 69), Mayor, Hussey, Soares, Riley, Cameron
Subs not used: Lainton, Adams, Sedgwick, Thompson, O’Brien
Referee: Graham Horwood
Attendance: 2,165 (128 away)