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Match Reports

Report: Stevenage 0-0 Portsmouth

26 August 2023

Jim Steele
Match Reports

Report: Stevenage 0-0 Portsmouth

26 August 2023

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An end-to-end battle finishes goalless as Stevenage pick up a hard-earned point against Pompey...

Stevenage returned to The Lamex Stadium in the hope of a big three points to continue their impressive start to life in Sky Bet League One. The opponents, Pompey, aimed to keep their unbeaten run flowing after conceding just one goal in their first four league games.

Steve Evans made three changes from the defeat against Reading with Taye Ashby-Hammond, Alex MacDonald and Ben Thompson returning to the starting eleven. Dan Sweeney and Harry Anderson made the squad for the first time this season after a period out through injury.

The opening ten minutes saw little action in the eighteen-yard areas as both sides looked to establish themselves into the game. There was a brief stoppage in play after eight minutes as Carl Piergianni received treatment, but after a swap of shirts, the captain was back on the field to help his team through the game.

Stevenage came close to scoring the opener when the clock reached twenty. Aaron Pressley’s headed flick-on allowed Jamie Reid to get a header on target, forcing Will Norris to stretch to his right and save.

Pompey, who were backed by a noisy, sold-out away end, tried their luck at an opener soon after. Joe Rafferty delivered a teasing ball into the area, but the danger was cleared out for a corner.

On the half hour mark, Stevenage created another close chance as they looked to break the deadlock. Alex MacDonald’s ball across the face of goal met Aaron Pressley who couldn’t quite get his effort on target.

Chances were becoming fairly regular for both sides, but neither could find the back of the net. Portsmouth’s Abu Kamara got a shot off from inside the area, but Taye Ashby-Hammond superbly denied, keeping it level.

The back-and-forth battle continued as a thunderstorm approached in the distance. This time it was Stevenage creating a chance and it was the best of the half as Jordan Roberts struck the post from the edge of the box. Then, a few minutes later, Jamie Reid carried the ball forward before firing into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Boro looked comfortable for the remainder of the half as the referee blew his whistle for half time to send the sides into the break level. No changes were made by either side ahead of the second half as a big forty-five minutes of football got underway.

The noise inside the Lamex Stadium began to really grow from all four stands early on in the second half. Louis Thompson drove into the box, taking on three or four men, but his cross from the by-line was blocked.

Just over ten minutes into the half, the referee reached into his pocket and displayed two red cards, one for Jake Forster-Caskey and one for Pompey’s Joe Rafferty due to a scuffle on the floor after a 50-50 challenge. There was a lot of confusion amongst the crowd.

Stevenage didn’t allow themselves to get too distracted by it as they continued to search for an opener. Tensions grew as the intensity of the game really picked up. Jamie Reid tried his luck from distance but fired wide.

With twenty minutes to go, Steve Evans made his first two changes as Harrison Neal and Elliott List were introduced in place of Jamie Reid and Aaron Pressley. It was a special moment for List who made his first competitive appearance since July 2022 after a lengthy period on the side-lines through injury.

He was almost sent immediately through on goal after coming on, but Will Norris was quick off his line to deny him a vital chance.

Ten minutes remained when the referee went down due to an off-the-ball, requiring some treatment. He attempted to carry on but was unable to as he stopped the game for a second time to leave the field. He then traded places with the fourth official who stepped in as referee.

The new fourth official soon held up eleven minutes of additional time to be played as the score remained goalless. The intensity was still pretty high and Boro did not stop trying for an opening goal. They capitalised on a miss-kicked goal kick as Elliott List played in Jordan Roberts whose cross was blocked and out for a corner. They came close from the resulting corner but Norris managed to hold on.

Despite all their hard work, the ball just would not find the back of the net as Stevenage picked up a hard-earned point against a strong Pompey side. Attention now turns to Tuesday’s Carabao cup tie with Exeter City.

Attendance: 5352 including 1384 away supporters.

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