A crazy first game back..
Stevenage were made to settle for a 2-2 draw against Tranmere Rovers in a barnstormer of an opening day of the 2018/19 season.
There will no doubt be a tinge of disappointment after Ball and Byrom put Boro into a 2-0 lead, only for the newly-promoted visitors to claw their way back into the game.
Taking into account the fact that Johnny Hunt was dismissed in the second half after receiving two yellow cards, there was plenty to be encouraged about as Maamria’s new-look Stevenage side picked up their first point of the season.
The Manager named nine debutants for the first game of the Sky Bet League Two opener with only Kennedy and Revell part of last season’s squad.
At a sun-soaked Lamex Stadium, it was the visitors who got off to the stronger of starts as they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession inside the opening 20 minutes. It didn’t turn into much in terms of goal-scoring chances though as a stingy Stevenage defence were able to keep the forwards quiet.
Indeed, it was Stevenage that struck first with the team’s first real attempt of note as James Ball sent the Boro supporters wild with his first for the club.
After Tranmere failed to clear their lines inside the box, the ball fell beautifully for Ball who rifled the ball home past the helpless Davies in goal.
Before long, it was 2-0 and the Lamex was temporarily in dreamland. Joel Byrom marking his return to the club with a beautifully measured curling effort
It is fair to say the one-two punch left Tranmere reeling somewhat but it didn’t take them long to find a route back into the contest. With just over 30 minutes gone, Oliver Norwood was released through on goal and one cool swipe of the boot later, it was 2-1. The Super White Army who packed out the away stand feeling like they finally got what they deserved.
Both teams came out for the second half unchanged and after just a few minutes of the restart, Revell and Timlin both had opportunities to extend the lead within a matter of minutes. Revs failing to connect with a clever ball into him whilst Timlin fired over from the resulting rebound.
James Ferry replaced James Ball early into the half and within minutes Tranmere found an equaliser. Poor defending at fault after Stevenage failed to clear a clipped free-kick into the box, Norwood on hand to grab his second of the game from less than a yard out.
Last year’s Player of the Season, Danny Newton soon entered the fray for Reid much to the encouragement of the Stevenage supporters.
Eager to get back into the lead, Dino Maamria wasn’t hanging about with his substitutions as he made his third and final change not long after the hour mark as Sonupe came on for Timlin.
For ten minutes Boro got back on top of the game as they were able to sustain a period of pressure on the Tranmere defence. Revell and Timlin both miscued difficult chances before Newton was denied on the goal-line following good work out wide by Sonupe. It felt like a potential turning point with the game so finely in the balance.
Norwood should have grabbed his hat-trick with just over ten minutes to go on two occasions, both from close-range and both over the bar as the game got more and more stretched.
Revell came a whisker away from his first of the season as he attempted a deft flick at the near-post but instead of finding the far corner, it fell just wide of the post.
In the dying minutes, it was Stevenage that looked the more likely to find a winner but it just wasn’t to be our day as Newton headed fine following a Byrom corner that was flicked on from his strike partner, Revell.
So, a share of the spoils to start the season ahead of next Saturday’s first road trip to Crawley.