Late equaliser denies Boro all three points
Stevenage took a point from their first game of 2016 after an injury time equaliser from Leyton Orient denied them a win at The Lamex Stadium.
In a game played in wet and wild conditions all the goals came in the final 32 minutes. Jay Simpson put the visitors ahead just past the hour from the spot after Fraser Franks was harshly penalised for handball, but sub Armand Gnanduillet struck twice in six minutes to swing the game in Boro’s favour.
It looked like all three points were Stevenage’s until Simpson struck again in the 92nd minute, finding the top corner from close range as Orient snatched a draw.
With further injuries depriving Boro of Lee Cox and Jerome Okimo, there was a start for Rohdell Gordon and a welcome return for Connor Ogilvie. Fraser Franks shuffled along to partner Jamie McCombe at the back, Pett dropped in with Tonge, with Charlie Lee supporting Matt up top.
With driving rain, howling rain and an increasingly slippy pitch, conditions were always going to prove tricky and thus it proved for much of the first half as both teams worked hard but made little in the way of clear-cut chances.
It was Stevenage though who enjoyed the best of the play with Lee, Matt and McFadzean all looking busy and Pett constantly pushing forward from his midfield role.
Lee almost found Matt with one through-ball after 10 minutes then went close with a acrobatic effort of his own a few minutes later as Boro pressed early on, although they had to also stay alert at the other end as Blair Turgott’s ball from the right flew across the face of goal on 19 minutes.
Matt headed over a minute later and then a header by McFadzean from a McCombe ball forward caused chaos in the Orient box but nobody in red and white could convert.
On the half hour Matt was played through on goal and the big striker did everything right, firing low towards the bottom corner but Cisak got down well to turn the ball behind.
Moments later and the visitors nearly had the lead in a rare chance for them inside the Boro box. Jay Simpson latched onto a loose ball in the box and fired at goal, only for birthday boy Ronnie Henry to somehow clear off the line.
In a more open second half, early chances again came for Stevenage with Matt again denied by Cisak and Charlie Lee seeing an effort cleared off the line. However a controversial penalty decision just before the hour saw the hosts take the lead. Fraser Franks was adjudged to have handled when a shot from yards away struck a hand down by his side and Jay Simpson coolly slotted home for 1-0.
Ben Kennedy came on for Rohdell Gordon and he was immediately into the action, winning a corner from which McCombe headed onto the roof of the net.
Teddy Sheringham threw on Armand Gnanduillet for Callum McFazean on 63 minutes and it proved an inspirational sub as the Frenchman caused havoc and struck twice to turn the game on its head. First he rose highest to head home Pett’s cross from the right to pull things level with 17 minutes remaining. Then five minutes later a sublime chipped pass from Kennedy found the striker and he finished with aplomb to send the Lamex into raptures. It was a deserved lead for Stevenage’s positive play and constant probing, despite the difficult conditions.
The hosts looked to be heading for all three points after some resolute defending from Orient pressure in the closing stages. However, frustratingly, well into four minutes of added time predator Simpson latched onto a loose ball in the box and curled home for his 20th goal of the season to snatch a point.
An improved performance meant a point was the least Boro deserved on the night, but they will be frustrated at once again conceding late and not taking all three points. Next up are consecutive away games at Mansfield and Plymouth before Stevenage take on Barnet in three week’s time. Tickets can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Franks, McCombe, Ogilvie, Cox, Pett, Gordon (Kennedy 60), Lee, McFadzean (Gnanduillet 63), Matt
Subs not used: Crowe, Gorman, Conlon, Johnson, Hughes
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, Shaw, Essam, Palmer, McAnuff (Marquis 80), Payne, Turgott (Jahraldo 76), Pritchard, Kpekawa, Simpson
Subs not used: Grainger, Dunne, Kashket, Moncur, Pollock
Referee: Darren Deadman