A second half Luke Norris penalty is cancelled out by Nicky Featherstone’s strike with fifteen minutes to play as Stevenage earn a share of the spoils in the northeast…
Paul Tisdale named four changes from Tuesday’s win over Crawley, with Luther James-Wildin, Jake Reeves, Chris Lines and Luke Norris coming back into the starting eleven in place of Luke O’Neill, Ed Upson, Bruno Andrade and Jamie Reid.
Looking across to the North Sea, it was a bitter yet bright Saturday afternoon on Teeside. The hosts started the tie on the front foot despite their winless form in the league and came the closest to an opener in the early stages.
A shot from the edge of the area looked like it could have spelt danger for the on-loan Christy Pym, but fortunately was set for the centre of the goal and the Boro stopper could collect easy enough.
Twenty minutes in, Stevenage had their first real opportunity of note. After picking the ball up just outside the Hartlepool area, Jake Reeves took it upon himself to beat his defender before firing at goal. A half volley and slightly off balance, Reeves’ shot did little to trouble Ben Killip between the sticks.
Before the half hour mark, Hartlepool had one of the clearest sights at goal of the first half. A cross from the left side of the pitch found its way through the whole of the Stevenage defence untouched, falling for right-back Reagan Ogle just a yard outside the Boro six-yard box. Fortunately for Stevenage, Ogle could only fire wide.
Luke Norris then went close for the visitors five minutes later, stabbing his right footed shot inches wide from the edge of the Hartlepool box.
Just before the break, Hartlepool had another clear sight at goal and again it was right back Ogle with the effort. This time from a cross from the right flank fell to the defender on the penalty spot but rushed his shot to fire high over Pym’s woodwork.
The two sides went in level at the break with not too much to separate them.
Almost straight away from the restart, Jake Taylor almost continued his rich vein of form in recent weeks as the ball fell to him inside the Hartlepool area. A combination of unkucky bounce and good defending cleared any danger, but showed the visitors’ intent for the next 45 minutes.
Stevenage continued to enjoy possession in the hosts’ half, with Chris Lines, Jake Reeves and Jake Taylor controlling the game’s tempo. A Chris Lines cross almost reached the head of Jake Taylor inside the box, just before Luther James-Wildin’s wicked cross was well collected by Ben Killip.
On the hour mark, Jamie Reid was introduced for Zain Westbrook in attack. The forward was straight into the thick of it after combining well with Luther James-Wildin on the right before drilling an enticing ball across the face of goal.
A minute later, it was Jamie Reid again looking the biggest threat for Stevenage. This time on the left side of the area, Reid reached the byline before cutting the ball back onto his right foot, only to be wiped out by a brash Hartlepool sliding challenge. The referee had no doubt to point to the spot with just twenty minutes to play. Up stepped Luke Norris to calmly fire Paul Tisdale’s men into the lead in the northeast.
Just under ten minutes later however, Hartlepool hit back themselves. An attack cleared only to the edge of the Boro box fell to Nicky Featherstone, who lashed the ball directly into the top corner. Level again.
Ed Upson and Charlie Carter were introduced with just under ten minutes to play, but neither side could take advantage of the end-to-end nature of the game to claim all three points.
A point each, as Stevenage now set their sights on the visit of Harrogate Town next Saturday.
Attendance: 4,841 inc 68 away.
Match tickets for Stevenage vs Harrogate Town are now available from www.borotickets.co.uk.