Stevenage 2-2 Crewe: Battling Alex snatch point with late equaliser after brace from Boro’s Bowditch
PUBLISHED: 17:10 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:02 10 March 2018
Stevenage suffered injury-time agony after Crewe Alexandra equalised in the 97th minute of a hard-fought 2-2 draw at the Lamex on Saturday afternoon.
The draw was harsh on Boro despite Crewe refusing to give up at down 2-0 midway through the second half after a brace from Dean Bowditch put the home side 2-0 in front of 2,082 fans.
Boro, occupying 15th place in League Two hosted the visitors four places and six points behind looking for a win to push up the table in what has been an inconsistent season laced with promise and hope, disappointment and despair.
In a scrappy start both sides took time to settle in front of the building site which was formerly the North Stand.
The open space behind Tom King’s goal promised a brighter future, but very much like Darren Sarll’s side is a work in progress with much still to do before the finished article appears.
The deadlock was broken after 12 minutes of shapeless play by a neat low finish Dean Bowditch who slotted past Alex keeper Ben Garrett to put Boro ahead.
It was the perfect response to the dispiriting 2-0 defeat at Notts County last time our before the Beast from the East forced the postponement of the scheduled home league match against Mansfield Town.
The enforced break may have done the home side a favour by stalling Crewe’s momentum after two wins from their last three games including an impressive 4-1 away victory at Lincoln.
David Artell’s men probed the home side but were restricted to long range shots, most notably from Jordan Bowery on the half hour.
The team bosses by the former Alex defender who assumed the role after the club relieved previous incumbent Steve David of the role early in 2017 was bidding to become the first Crewe side to do the double over Stevenage after their 1-0 victory back in September broke Boro’s hearts.
A flowing move minutes later culminated in former Sheffield United forward Shaun Miller firing low at Millwall loanee King. Fortunately the highly-rates Boro keeper was equal to the task.
The passage of play was trademark Crewe - pass and move even if Boro went into the break ahead.
The lead was doubled early in the second half after an excellent run by Danny Newton beat Alex defender and captain George Ray before he squares for Bowditch to slot home for 2-0.
The goal was evidence of what Boro can achieve - vibrant attacking play laced with goals. They just need to show this type of form on a more regular basis.
What was also enjoyable was watching Newton simply relish playing the game of football. At that point Boro could and should have pushed on for more goals.
Yet with minutes remaining Alex right-back Perry Ng fired home into the top right hand corner to give keeper Tom King no chance, in one of the best goals you’ll see this weekend to make it 2-1 as they refused to buckle.
The goal rallied the visitors as they attempted to make late inroads into the home defence.
They certainly deserved credit for refusing for showing character and were rewarded with a late equaliser from substitute Charlie Kirk to break Boro’s hearts to deny them of the three points.
There was an element of controversy after Miller had crossed into the box, sparking home fans to appeal for offside, but boss Sarll did not specifically make an issue of out the difficult call made by the officials who gave the goal.
The Crewe dugout erupted in joy – making a telling contrast with the utterly crestfallen Boro one yards away – as Alex players and fans celebrated in relief as much as joy before referee Graham Horwood blew moments after the restart.
Despite the lively play earlier from Sarll’s men Crewe certainly deserved a point as much for character as the late rally – although the manner of the draw was harsh on Stevenage their performance drew deserved opprobrium from the stands.
Sarll raged afterwards saying he was furious and that the players would realise their performance was simply not good enough. Or as the passionate Sarll added: “It was rubbish. I completely agree with the fans. If I was the fans I’d feel the same [frustration]. I am furious.”
The needless late drama from a Stevenage point of view was indicative of their season.
And although Sarll insisted there were no positives to take from the game, if the team can learn from their mistakes this season there is no reason why they can’t use the experience to kick on next season if they keep learning and progressing – even if that will be of absolutely no consolation to Boro’s bitterly disappointed fans and boss.