An undermanned Stevenage showed an abundance of fight and passion on Saturday afternoon as they held promotion-chasing Colchester United to a goalless draw at The Lamex Stadium...
Tom Soares was shown an early red card for a full-blooded tackle in the first half but Boro kept strong in their shape throughout the match to keep the U’s at bay.
Graham Westly made two changes to the starting line-up from their defeat on New Year’s Day away at Northampton Town. Kelland Watts and Craig Mackail-Smith replaced Jason Cowley and Michael Timlin along with the return of Alex Revell starting on the bench.
It was a quick start to the match as Boro dictated the play early on and almost opened the scoring in the 13th minute Craig Mackail-Smith found Dean Parrett alone in the box but the midfielder lost his balance at the crucial moment and the chance went begging. Down the other end, Harry Pell connected well with a header inside the Stevenage area as his effort just went wide of Paul Farman’s post.
The game took a huge in the turn in Colchester’s favour in the 19th minute after Tom Soares was shown a straight red card after what the referee deemed a dangerous challenge on Luke Gambin, sending Soares down the tunnel for an early bath.
That only seemed to galvanise Westley’s side though and Farman was called into action for the first time just after the half hour mark, when the Boro keeper, heroically, made a double save after Luke Norris looked odds on to open the scoring from close-range but was shut down as the away side had little to shout about after the sending off.
Three minutes were shown to end the half, and it could have been 1-0 to the away side when the ball deflected of a Boro defender - which left Farman flat-footed but luckily enough, the chance hit the bar as both teams went into the half still searching for the opening goal.
Graham Westley made his first change of the game at the start of the second half as Dean Parrett made way for Timlin and still, the away side couldn’t break down Stevenage as the players showed their resilience to keep their discipline around the edge of the box, looking for any potential counter-attack as Colchester threw more men forward for that opening goal.
A second change was made just before the hour mark as Watts came off for Denton, with extra pace when attacking clearly in-mind. It almost worked soon after, as Denton and Mackail-Smith spear headed a Boro counter as the team were gifted with a 2 on 2 but the striker saw his effort fly over the bar.
The game started to get more stretched as minutes went on and Boro were made to defend deeper and deeper. Norris almost found the advancing Frank Nouble - who was inches away from scoring that all important first goal as his shot flew past The South Stand, leaving the away end frustrated.
Farman once again showed how crucial he is to the team after denying Callum Harriot at the back post in what looked destined to be the first goal of the game and then with ten minutes remaining, Revell made his return to the team as he replaced the tireless Mackail-Smith.
Despite a number of scary moments, as Stevenage defended with all their mite, Boro saw out the rest of the game to post their first point of the New Year.