Stevenage picked up a point with a dogged display in terrible conditions at league leaders Burton Albion this evening.
An own goal from Tom Naylor had given Boro a deserved 12th minute lead as the visitors enjoyed the best of the first half in front of the Sky Sports cameras. An unfortunate own-goal from Bira Dembele ensured the teams went in level at the break before Boro successfully saw off wave after wave of second half pressure to secure the draw in the pouring rain.
The rain was constant hours before kick-off but, although extremely wet underfoot, the game started and produced early chances for both teams. Nasser El Khayati saw a low shot turned around the post by Day after just two minutes, with Pett then curling just wide at the other end after being found in space on the counter by Lisbie.
Simon Walton fired just over as Boro pressed in the opening 10 minutes before they deservedly took the lead two minutes later. From a Stevenage corner, Dean Wells peeled off to the back post and powered a header across goal. Kevin Lisbie stuck out a leg as the ball somehow found the bottom corner, with TV replays giving it as a Tom Naylor own goal.
A goal to the good, Stevenage continued their positive start with Okimo making a good run down the left and Lisbie going over in the area as the visitors looked to double their advantage. They were looking comfortable and even when Burton tried to make things happen, the visitors looked assured with Chris Day looking to sweep up anything which evaded the backline in front of him.
Former Boro man Lucas Akins saw a shot deflect behind and the Brewers then had the ball in the back of the net just past the half hour, only for the linesman’s flag to deny them an equaliser.
After soaking up some home pressure – quite literally in these conditions – Stevenage pushed forward again and were soon causing problems in the Burton final third. Andrade again was showing good pace out wide and swung in a couple of great crosses, before Lisbie had a golden chance to double the lead with eight minutes of the half remaining. Found with a great through-ball from Parrett, the veteran front man advanced towards goal only to be denied by a last-gasp challenge from Mousinho.
Just as it looked like Boro would take their lead into the break, the hosts struck back in fortuitous circumstances. A corner on the stroke of half-time was swung in from the left and although Keane got a good connection to clear, the ball hit Dembele and flew back past Day for an unfortunate own goal.
Burton came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and put Boro under some early pressure but, in increasingly slippy conditions, the visitors defence stood firm and rode the pressure well.
Stevenage were dealt a blow 10 minutes into the half when Parrett was left down in a heap on the far side. After receiving extensive treatment he hobbled off, to be replaced by Ben Kennedy who went up front with Pett moving out wide.
Akins headed over the bar on the hour as Burton found more joy down the flanks and that signalled a strong 15 minutes from the Brewers who created chance after chance to take the lead.
Much of their attacking threat came from the lively El Khayati who on three occasions could have made the breakthrough. The midfielder dribbled into the area on 63 minutes but was thwarted by a last-gasp Dembele challenge. From the resulting corner Phil Edwards hit the post with a header and Boro somehow scrambled the loose ball away.
Still the pressure came with Khayati blazing over after good work by Akins and the winger then twice fired wide when well placed.
Stevenage were struggling to make anything stick up top although a rare break saw them win a corner with 20 minutes remaining. The ball eventually fell to Keane outside the box but his shot from distance was straight at McLaughlin, not that you’d call it a straightforward save in these conditions.
Burton continued to press in the closing stages but, unlike recent weeks, Stevenage hung on to record what could prove a vital point in the chase for the playoffs. Next up is a double-header against the two sides currently propping up the division and you can buy tickets for the Good Friday game against Tranmere Rovers here
Burton: McLaughlin, Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Mousinho, Beavon, Akins, McCrory, Naylor, McGurk (Knowles 81), El Khayati, Palmer
Subs not used: Shearer, Taft, Stewart, Slade, Harness, Johnstone
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Wells, Dembele, Okimo, Parrett (Kennedy 57), Walton, Keane, Andrade (Jebb 90), Pett, Lisbie
Subs not used: Beasant, Bond, Whelpdale, D.Johnson, Martin
Referee: G Sutton