Stevenage picked up a point with a goalless draw against Luton Town this afternoon in an encouraging display at The Lamex Stadium.
A competitive derby saw chances fall to both sides yet neither could break the deadlock, with both ‘keepers called into action and the Hatters twice hitting the bar in the closing stages. The visitors also finished the game with 10 men after a late red card for Paul Benson.
Teddy Sheringham made two changes from the side that drew at Yeovil last week. Dean Parrett missed out through injury and Tom Conlon dropped to the bench, as Charlie Lee and Ben Kennedy returned to the starting XI. New loan striker Jamile Matt was among the subs.
It was Stevenage with the early pressure in this game with Ben Kennedy winning an early corner after four minutes and Armand Gnanduillet firing wide inside the box three minutes later after putting Scott Griffiths on is backside with some neat footwork.
The game continued with Boro in the ascendancy and it took until the 19th minute for Luton to give something for their fans to get excited about. A swift counter-attack saw the ball flash across goal but nobody could convert.
Instead of letting their visitors build on that chance, Stevenage continued to win the midfield battle with Lee, Gnanduillet and Whelpdale in particular winning many of their aerial duals.
Ben Kennedy got the home crowd going on 22 minutes with a mazy dribble before a foul on Ogilvie gave Boro a free-kick three minutes later. Up-stepped Steven Schumacher to fire a 30-yard effort straight at Tyler.
Gradually Luton came into the game and Jonathan Smith smashed over via a deflection just before the half hour, when Danny Green’s free-kick was only cleared as far as the edge of the area.
That resulting corner was cleared and Boro were back on the counter. Good interplay between Lee and Gnanduillet saw the Frenchman find Whelpdale. The winger waited for Henry to advance down the right flank but used him as a decoy, instead opting for an early shot that rose high over Tyler’s bar.
Smith again tried his luck for Luton from distance on 36 minutes, but saw his effort fly just wide of Day’s post, before firstly Wells and then Day cleared off the line within seconds as the Hatters went close.
The half ended with Chris Whelpdale firing just wide with his left-footed as both teams went in goalless.
Both sides emerged unchanged for the second half and within three minutes the chances were coming again, this time Josh McQuoid seeing a volley inside the box bounce just wide.
Jonathan Smith again shot straight at Day before two chances came and went for Armand Gnanduillet in two minutes. First a 53rd minute cross from Kennedy found the Frenchman but his header was easy for Tyler. Then moments later a similar approach down the left saw Ogilvie cross and Whelpdale head back, only for the striker to fire into the side netting.
With 66 minutes on the clock Dean Wells headed a loose ball back towards Day, but without realising Paul Benson was behind him. Fortunately Day blocked the veteran striker’s shot and the chance was gone, with Wells particularly relieved.
At the other end Fraser Franks went mightily close to giving his current side the lead against his former employers, but saw his 68th minute shot from close range saved by Tyler as Luton failed to clear after great Boro pressure.
New loan signing Jamille Matt had come on just after the hour and was providing another physical partner up top for Gnanduillet. With 18 minutes remaining the duo combined for the Frenchman to control and volley inches wide, with some home fans off their feet expecting the ball to hit the back of the net.
The closing stages saw the momentum swing in Luton’s favour and when Wells was adjudged to have handled just outside the area – earning the centre-back a caution – it gave the Hatters a dangerous free-kick 25 yards out. Danny Green stepped up but rattled the bar with a fierce effort. Gnanduillet and Conlon both then showed great composure deep inside their half to retain possession and win Boro a free-kick and temporary relief.
Chances continued to fall for the visitors with a classy turn and shot from Olly Lee which was clawed away brilliantly by Day with 12 minutes remaining. Green continued to find plenty of space out wide and a great cross two minutes later teasingly flew between goalkeeper and defence but nobody was there.
With five minutes remaining Paul Benson was shown a straight red for a two-footed lunge towards sub Conlon, reducing the visitors to 10 men. Even then the Hatters hit the bar late on through McQuoid and were then denied a penalty claim as the game entered five minutes added time, as Stevenage defended with their lives to secure their point.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Franks, Wells, Ogilvie, Lee (Conlon 66), Schumacher, Whelpdale (Matt 62), Pett, Kennedy, Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Voss, McCombe, Hughes, Gorman, Marriott
Luton Town: Tyler, Smith, Cuthbert, Lawless, McGeehan (Marriott 66), Green (Long 87), Benson, Griffiths, Lee (O’Brien 88), McQuoid, Wilkinson
Subs not used: Justham, McCourt, Guttridge, Mackail-Smith
Referee: Rob Lewis
Attendance: 4,782 (1,892 away)