A late equaliser deep into stoppage time denied Stevenage a win at Cambridge this afternoon in an otherwise professional performance.
Dean Wells’ first half volley looked to have secured all three points for Boro at the R Costings Abbey Stadium and the visitors defended resolutely throughout, only for Robbie Simpson to hook home in added time to rescue a point for the U’s in a 1-1 draw.
Stevenage made two changes from the side that won against Newport last weekend with Keith Keane and Dave Martin coming in for Simon Walton and Chris Beardsley, neither of whom were fit to make the 18.
A lively start to the game saw both teams on the attack with Pett seeing an early shot blocked and Cambridge then forcing a couple of corners which Boro defended well despite an obvious height disadvantage.
The hosts went close on the quarter hour when Wells was left appealing for a foul, allowing Slew to latch onto the loose ball just inside the box, but there was Day with a low save to deny the former Boro loanee.
Cambridge were to regret that miss as Stevenage promptly took the lead a minute later. From a free-kick on the right, Martin’s arrowed delivery into the box was headed out, but only as far as Wells who volleyed home through a sea of players to send the travelling fans into raptures.
A goal down Cambridge immediately went looking for the equaliser and had a penalty shout turned down after working their way into the Boro box. It signalled the start of a period of concerted pressure for the hosts who spent the majority of the rest of the half pushing Boro back and advancing into the final third.
The ref handed the hosts a variety of free-kicks giving them the chance to pile on the pressure but Stevenage stood firm. Even when the U’s resorted to through-balls, the visitors remained calm with the back-four mopping up any danger that came their way.
After soaking up the pressure the visitors went close to a second five minutes before the break, when Kennedy was bundled over on the edge of the box. Up-stepped Dean Parrett but his dipping effort just evaded Dunn’s bar.
There was still time for Cambridge to threaten an equaliser before half-time when a mix-up between Day and Bira nearly saw Wells put into his own net from 20 yards, but fortunately Day recovered to avert danger. A Donaldson cross moments later just evaded Kaikai as Boro went in a goal up.
Richard Tait saw an early second half free-kick swing past Day’s post with a Martin corner minutes later showing the verocity of the wind as it whipped across the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
Both sides continued to plug away but there lacked any real chances on goal, with the game getting slightly scrappy in parts. Dave Martin was subbed on the hour after an edgy few minutes in which he was cautioned for one crunching tackle and then lucky to escape a second yellow moments later with another challenge.
Cambridge sub Robbie Simpson blazed over on the volley shortly after coming on and fellow Boro sub Bruno Andrade won a free-kick, from which Lee struck the wall with a fierce drive.
Andy Bond came on for Ben Kennedy to add more protection in midfield and the move seemed to wrestle back some of the momentum for Boro, with Bond, Parrett and the impressive Keane imposing themselves in the middle of the park in the closing stages.
Pett went close with 17 minutes remaining when he cut in from the left and went for the spectacular, but his effort drifted wide of Dunn’s far post in a rare sight of goal for the visitors.
As time ticked on it looked like Boro were seeing the game out, but a signal of six minutes of injury time reinvigorated the home faithful, who urged their side on and Stevenage faced a barrage of late pressure.
That pressure finally told as Cambridge scrambled a 95th minute equaliser to break Boro hearts. A long throw was launched into the box and dropped kindly for Robbie Simpson to turn and fire home low to send the hosts into delirium.
Both sides saw late free-kicks cleared as opportunities to snatch the game came and went, leaving Boro to reflect on a point gained ahead of the midweek trip to Exeter City.
Cambridge: Dunn, Tait, Coulson, Donaldson, Champion, Slew (Simpson 61), Dunk, Hughes (Taylor 64), Nelson, Mendez-Laing (Margetts 68), Kaikai
Subs not used: Miller, Norris, Hunt, Ball
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Wells, Dembele, Okimo, Pett, Parrett, Keane, Martin (Andrade 60), Lee, Kennedy (Bond 67)
Subs not used: Beasant, Ashton, D.Johnson, R.Johnson, Conlon
Referee: Graham Horwood
Attendance: 5,503 (926 away)