Battling performance earns Boro a point
A fine battling performance from Stevenage saw them pick up the point needed for Football League survival with a goalless draw against Bristol Rovers this evening.
A game full of effort and commitment by both sides saw little in the way of clear chances but it was a good 90 minute performance from Boro which gave them a deserved point.
After the weekend win over Newport, Darren Sarll named an unchanged team for this game with the same subs too.
Fresh from his goal on Saturday, Aaron O’Connor had the first sight of goal with just over a minute gone but drilled his early effort at Steve Mildenhall.
Fellow weekend scorer Jake Mulraney showed quick feet on eight minutes to create space before firing in an inviting cross which Mildenhall just gathered.
Stevenage continued their bright start with some good possession and probing play, with their next chance coming on 18 minutes. A short corner found Michael Tonge, who took the ball to the byline and crossed for Luer to flick and Franks to fire over the bar.
After that decent start by the hosts, Bristol Rovers really came into the game and looking threatening on the attack.
On 20 minutes the Gas were handed a free-kick and although Boro dealt with the first two deliveries into the box, the ball fell to Jake Gosling whose superb low volley clipped the far post and went wide.
Both Greg Luer and Aaron O’Connor went close with efforts inside the area before a 40th minute Dean Parrett corner was flicked on but Mulraney’s effort at the back post was blocked.
Four minutes before the break Bristol Rovers were awarded a dangerous free-kick after O’Connor was penalised for fouling whilst tracking back. Up stepped Gosling from 25 yards but he lifted his effort over the wall and Jones’ bar.
Moments later the Gas had a golden opportunity to take the lead. The visitors won possession off Ronnie Henry and a lightning break saw a cross from the left find Leadbitter, who blasted wide with the whole goal to aim at.
The second half continued with plenty of effort but again defences were on top. Ollie Clarke and Michael Tonge traded yellow cards for pulling back opponents on the counter in two separate incidents and it took until just past the hour for Boro to forge their next chance.
Greg Luer controlled the ball, turned and ran at goal before exchanging passes with Parrett and seeing a low shot deflect behind.
Straight up the other end and Jamie Jones showed his credentials between the sticks with a fine low save to tip Billy Bodin’s low drive around the post for a corner.
On 68 minutes a great cross from Wilkinson just eluded Luer but was collected by Mulraney at the far post. The winger got into the box and laid the ball off for Parrett who went for goal but could only drag his shot just wide of the near post.
Bristol Rovers threw on attacking subs as they pushed forward looking for the breakthrough, but despite sustained pressure for much of the rest of the half, Boro’s backline stood firm with Dean Wells and Luke Wilkinson particularly impressive.
Still there were half-chances for the hosts with a Mulraney cross turned behind with O’Connor lurking and a cross from Henry then nearly finding its way through to Mulraney.
Stevenage saw out the three minutes of added time to earn a deserved point secure their Football League status. Next up is a trip to Morecambe on Saturday, tickets for which can be found at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Wells, Franks, Pett, Tonge, Parrett, Mulraney (Lee 89), Luer (Kennedy 71), O’Connor
Subs not used: Day, Keane, Okimo, Conlon, Gorman
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter (Bodin 46), Brown, Lockyer, Parkes, Clarke, Taylor, Gosling (Easter 70), Lines, Clarke, Gaffney (Harrison 58)
Subs not used: Puddy, Mansell, Montano, McBurnie
Referee: Andrew Madley
Attendance: 3,836 (1,327 away)