Stevenage picked up a point with a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw away at Exeter this afternoon.
Initially it looked like being another tough day as the Grecians took a 2-0 lead after just 15 minutes thanks to goals from David Wheeler and an overhead kick from Clinton Morrison, but a Dean Parrett free-kick and Ben Kennedy header levelled matters for Boro before the break. Wheeler scored his second and Exeter’s third with a beautiful volley with 10 minutes remaining, only for Stevenage to draw level in equally impressive style thanks to Chris Whelpdale’s sumptuous 92nd minute volley.
There were just 12 seconds on the clock when Morrison fired wide after Boro failed to clear the first ball forward of the game and if that was a warning, worse was to follow as the Grecians took the lead four minutes later. Lee Holmes was given time and space down the left to whip in a cross which David Wheeler headed in for 1-0.
To their credit Stevenage began their fight-back immediately, keeping possession nicely and pushing forward looking to create opportunities. They began on the 7th minute when Dean Parrett swung a dangerous free-kick just over and then fired a cross-shot wide moments later. He was just finding his range though, as Exeter would find out later in the half.
It wasn’t just Dean looking to make this happen with good work by Conlon and Kennedy presenting Schumacher with a chance to skip around his man in the box and play the ball back for Conlon, but the young midfielder could only bundle wide under pressure.
12 minutes in Schumacher set his sights from 25 yards but fired straight at Olejnik and then a long throw from Whelpdale caused trouble but eventually found its way into the ‘keepers arms.
However for all their possession and chances Stevenage were dealt a hammer-blow as Exeter doubled their lead on the counter. From a rare push forward, the ball was spread out wide and veteran Clinton Morrison scored his first Grecians goal with a stunning overhead kick.
A two goal deficit could have seen the wind knocked out of Boro’s sails but Stevenage stuck to their possession game and bossed the bulk of the rest of the half.
Chris Whelpdale sawa 22nd minute shot blocked and then on the half hour more good interplay between Franks and Whelpdale saw the latter cut the ball back for Kennedy, with an Exeter clearance then smashing Parrett in the face and flying into Olejnik’s arms.
11 minutes before the break Hughes brought down Grant on the edge of the box, handing the Greicans a dangerous free-kick but Holmes saw his deflected effort fall kindly for Day.
However three minutes later Boro won an identical free-kick at the other end, from which they gave themselves hope. After initial confusion about who would take the set-piece, up stepped Dean Parrett to curl the ball into the top corner to halve the deficit.
Holmes fired over from a 43rd minute corner as Exeter pushed to extend their advantage, but instead it was Stevenage who drew level moments before the break. A Conlon corner was dealt with at first but after Schumacher headed the ball back in, Kennedy was in the right place to head home an equaliser.
Exeter came out for the second half with more attacking intent and won a couple of early corners which Boro defended well.
With 51 minutes on the clock a missed interception by Wells saw Grant sprinting towards goal from the touchline, only for Hughes to come across and made a vital block.
Ben Kenned saw a header gathered by Olejnik at one end before the Grecians began to turn the screw at the other, with much of their attacking play coming from their right flank. David Wheeler was inches away from latching onto a good ball from Grant before a great block by Franks again denied Wheeler just before the hour.
With 20 minutes remaining a Boro break saw Whelpdale play the ball through to debutant Gnanduillet who showed great pace and power to race into the box and win a corner.
Troy Brown headed over from a Grecians corner with 16 minutes remaining as Boro survived a scare, only to counter moments later through Dean Parrett and nearly create a chance of their own. The midfielder broke into the Exeter half and fed Kennedy, who looked up and floated the ball across to Gnanduillet only for the Frenchman to completely miss his attempted volley.
If Morrison’s goal and Parrett’s free-kick were quality strikes, then more was to come in the closing 10 minutes. First Wheeler looked to have won the game when he cut in from the right and bent a volley into the far corner with the outside of his boot, to put Exeter 3-2 up.
Tom Conlon then hit the corner of post and bar with a swerving free-kick after Kennedy have been brought down right on the corner of the area and it looked like being another of those frustrating and pointless afternoons.
However Boro never gave up and although Parrett rifled a shot just over the crossbar on 88 minutes, salvation was to come in the 92nd minute courtesy of a beautiful Whelpdale volley, from a Williams flick.
A point was no less than a much improved Stevenage deserved after this performance and with the recent string of defeats now behind, there is hope of similar performances and even better results in the coming weeks. Wycombe Wanderers are up next Saturday and tickets can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Day, Franks, Hughes, Wells, Ogilvie, Schumacher, Parrett, Whelpdale, Kennedy (Williams 83), Conlon (Pett 83), Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Lumley, McCombe, Okimo, Hitchcock, Loza
Exeter: Olejnik, Noble, McAllister (Tillson 84), Ribeiro, Oakley (Davies 71), Holmes, Morrison (Nichols 62), Moore-Taylor, Wheeler, Grant, Brown
Subs not used: Hamon, Butterfield, Nicholls, McCready
Attendance: 3,235 (97 away)