Stevenage stunned league leaders Lincoln City with a late fightback that saw Ilias Chair strike twice to rescue a valuable point...
It was a hard fought and well contested game from Maamria’s men as they managed to largely stifle the high-flying opposition whilst hitting the woodwork twice at the other end and causing the Imps defence all kinds of problems throughout the encounter.
In the end, Boro got what they deserved with two wonderful goals from QPR loanee Ilias Chair who took the game by the scruff of the neck in the final 10 minutes.
Dino Maamria named two changes to the side that fell to defeat at Tranmere the previous weekend, replacing the suspended Ben Nugent with Luke Wilkinson whilst Captain Ronnie Henry came in for Kurtis Guthrie. Such a change meant for a switch of formation as Boro came out in a 5-3-2 to try and combat Lincoln’s obvious strengths.
The switch appeared to work as Stevenage put in a superb first half performance full of endeavour and enterprise. Ilias Chair was once again at the centre of much of the good work, taking the game towards the opposition and letting off shots and putting in crosses at a regular rate.
Stevenage’s best chance of the game came on 22 minutes after Chair whipped in a brilliant ball for the on-rushing Hunt to latch onto from the back-post. The wing-back managed to reach the cross but his effort towards goal flew wide. A few minutes later Revell headed wide from another aerial opportunity after being found with a deep, central cross but he couldn’t steer it on target.
John Akinde had Lincoln’s two best sights of goal in the half and on both occasions, was denied only by a Stevenage defender on the line. The first came about after Farman spilled a simple-looking cross into the path of the striker and just as it looked like he had the simplest of headers to put the Imps in-front, Cuthbert appeared out of nowhere to hook it off the line.
Chair then made Lincoln stopper Smith work with an outrageous strike from distance which had the goalkeeper scrambling before palming over the bar. Before the half was out Akinde had one more opportunity which was denied at the last-second as Lincoln tried to make the most of their many set-pieces. After Akinde rose highest towards the back-post to head towards goal, this time Hunt was back in-time to make the vital clearance.
Despite all the good work up to that point, Stevenage conceded within minutes of the second half. A deep cross from Rowe found Andrade umarked at the back-post and his looping header gave Farman virtually no chance. There was some controversy in the build-up as the Assistant briefly raised his flag, before withdrawing and allowing play to continue.
Rather than lick their wounds, Boro got back on top and took the game to the league leaders. Collective heads were in hands as Chair rattled the woodwork with a wonderful free-kick that had Smith completely beaten.
Right down the other end, Andrade grabbed his second of the game with a brilliant long-distance strike that seemed to all but kill the game in what felt like an unjust fashion giving Boro’s efforts all afternoon. Almost as a way to accentuate the point, five minutes on Chair hit the woodwork again with a shot from the edge of the box.
17 year old Liam Smyth, James Ball and Emmanuel Sonupe all soon entered the fray and with just five minutes to go, Ilias Chair finally made it count with a beautiful hit after shifting the ball inside onto his right foot from just inside the box.
Imps nerves were now frayed and their worst fears were realised in added time as Chair scored what must be Stevenage's goal of the season with a unnerring finish from 25 yards into the top corner.
Chair would go onto force another fine save from Smith during added time but the game ended all square at 2-2 in what was a thrilling encounter at Sincil Bank. The result leaves Stevenage four points outside the Play-Off places ahead of next weekend's home clash with Northampton Town.