Two goals from Elliott List earn caretaker boss Robbie O’Keefe and his side a share of the spoils in Sky Bet League Two…
Robbie O’Keefe named three changes for the trip to Greater Manchester as the fixtures continued to come thick and fast, following two well fought wins against MK Dons and Colchester United last week.
Terence Vancooten returned from suspension back into the defence, while Ross Marshall started where he finished on Saturday in the middle of midfield. Elliot Osborne replaced Bruno Andrade higher up the pitch, as the caretaker boss looked to freshen things up for the long journey north. Chris Lines and Jake Taylor missed out entirely after picking up knocks last time out.
Supporters who made the trip were rewarded with a free woolly hat and hot drink courtesy of the Club upon entry to Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena, in a mark of appreciation for their continued support home and away.
Despite this, it wasn’t a similar warm welcome from the Rochdale players, who started the game with a high intensity and pushed Boro back deep into their half. After just four minutes, the host had their lead through a goalmouth mix up from a corner for Beesley to prod home. Not the start Boro wanted but a lot of football yet to be played.
It would be the hosts to go closest to the second goal of the game too, as somehow Dale’s goal scorer Beesley nodded a free header from three yards out wide of the mark with twenty minutes played.
However, after scoring his tenth of the season on Saturday, with Elliott List in this form Stevenage would always have a chance of scoring.
Just before the half hour mark, Elliot Osborne’s pressing paid off after winning the ball high up the pitch before sliding an inch perfect pass through to Boro’s top scorer. Elliott List took the ball in his stride, before firing past Dale’s Jay Lynch and into the near post. Boro were level - arguably against the run of play.
Nonetheless, the parity didn’t last long as five minutes later Rochdale regained their advantage. After Josh Andrews’ header crashed against the post, the forward could count himself fortuitous with the rebound which fell to his feet for an easy tap in. Two goals conceded that seemed to be avoidable and/unlucky, but Stevenage would have to find another goal from somewhere.
Ben Coker was forced off just before the break through injury, replaced by Arthur Read as a half-time rejig was needed from the temporary management team.
At the restart, Stevenage lined up in a more orthodox formation with five across the midfield, in an attempt to double up on the wings and create more of a threat on the break. And as if by magic, Stevenage were level once more.
Almost a carbon copy of his first, Elliott List doubled his tally after latching onto a through ball beating the Rochdale defence, and took on the goalkeeper before notching his twelfth goal of the season. Back level, and Stevenage had a newfound belief that something or better could be earnt from this game.
A matter of moments later, Stevenage almost found themselves in front for the first time in this tie, as Jamie Reid’s side footed effort was saved by Lynch, before Elliot Osborne’s rebound was cleared off the line.
Jamie Reid had another chance saved before Arthur Read’s effort creeped agonisingly wide of the far post, as the game looked to be turning in the visitors’ favour.
After a succession of Rochdale corners were dealt with effectively by Scott Cuthbert and co, the game continued to open up into an end-to-end encounter. Bruno Andrade and Brad Barry were introduced with ten minutes left to play, and the latter almost won it for Boro in additional time as his left footed strike dragged just wide.
A late influx on Rochdale pressure was dealt with after a superb stop from Adam Smith, as Robbie O’Keefe’s men picked up a well-earned point away from home.
Match tickets for Stevenage vs Scunthorpe United are now available from www.borotickets.co.uk.