All square as woodwork comes to Boro’s rescue
First clean sheet of the season sees Stevenage hold league leaders to draw
Stevenage 0 Torquay United 0
npower League 2
THERE were chances for both sides as league leaders Torquay United came to the Lamex on Saturday but a lack of shot accuracy saw just a single effort on target all afternoon.
The visitors were a lick of paint away from scoring on three occasions as Boro had the woodwork to thank, while at the other end Ronnie Henry and Stacy Long – the former on his 250th appearance for the club – both went close but failed to test Scott Beven in the Torquay goal.
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The draw, Boro’s first scoreless game in 26 games, saw Torquay lose top spot to Shrewsbury Town while it meant Graham Westley’s men have not won in their last five games, but there was a sense at the end that both sides were content at not losing.
Boro made three changes to the side which lost at Cheltenham Town last weekend with Joel Byrom, former Torquay striker Tim Sills and the suspended Lawrie Wilson making way for Stacy Long, Darius Charles and John Mousinho.
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Torquay’s Eunan O’Kane was the first to fire off target when he cut inside from the left on two minutes only to shoot over, and the visitors went close again when Martin Gritton split the Boro defence by running between Charles and Mark Roberts only to fire Danny Stevens’ through ball over the bar.
Scott Laird, playing in front of Charles, had Boro’s first effort but saw his shot blocked on 20 minutes while the hosts had the woodwork when Kevin Nicholson’s peach of a cross was flicked on to the bar by Chris Robertson and Chris Day picked up the rebound.
The Gulls were looking dangerous going forward with Danny Stevens causing Stevenage problems on both flanks but despite the trickery of Stevens and fellow wide man Chris Zebroski Boro were able to hold them at bay.
Both defences were on top and when Henry went close on 43 minutes with a low shot from 25 yards it was their first shot for more than 20 minutes.
Torquay, meanwhile, were restricted to efforts from outside the area with Stevens hitting the post on 44 minutes after he cut inside on the left and hit his effort low at goal.
The post may have saved Boro but could just as easily have caused them embarrassment as the rebound hit the floored Day on the back, only for it to bounce just the wrong side of the post and out for a corner.
After a hit and miss first half, the second began well and promised much.
Just as he had the first half, O’Kane started the second period with a shot at goal; he got the ball 25 yards out, turned and took a few steps before fizzing a neat effort which went wide of Day’s left hand post.
Yemi Odubade sent a cross in from the right which Bevan failed to clear and the ball fell to Laird who took a touch and shot over from 14 yards, and then Griffin had what could onl be described as a ‘stinker’.
The Boro striker ran on to a bouncing ball 30 yards and had a shot which was so high the ball not only went over the bar but it also went over the stand and out of the ground.
Griffin missed the target by some distance, but Torquay’s Nicholson went much closer 10 minutes after the break when he took a free kick, got the return pass and struck it low against the post.
After seeing some dubious decisions go against them in recent matches, Boro were due a spot of luck and it was looking as though they had used up a season’s worth in just 60 minutes.
Boro’s midfield was getting on top of the game in the second half with Long influential on the right. He went close with a shot just over on the hour mark and he set up another chance moments later when his free kick was headed at goal by Michael Bostwick.
The ball hit Odubade on the six yard line and as he turned to shot at goal Bevan got himself down quickly and smothered the shot – the only effort on target the entire match.
The fans of both sides were left to wait another 25 minutes before another shot at goal, and it was Griffin again this time going a little closer.
Mousinho pinged a long ball out to Long on the right wing and the midfielder trapped it and got a little bit of luck before he pulled the ball back for Griffin who took a touch and then swung his foot at the ball only to send it just over.
Boro were pleased with a point and a clean sheet against the league’s form team, but they will hope a run of two games without scoring won’t be extended to three when they travel up to Lincoln City next weekend.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day 6, Charles 7, Ashton 6, Roberts 6, Henry 6, Mousinho 6, Bostwick 6, Long 7, Laird 6, Griffin 6, Odubade 7 (Winn, 90). Subs not used: Bayes, Foster, Byrom, Sills, Sinclair, Vincenti.
Torquay (4-4-2): Bevan, Nicholson, Robertson, Branston, Ellis (Charnock, 86), Mansell, O’Kane (Benyon, 89), Wroe, Stevens, Gritton (Kee, 78), Zebroski. Subs not used: Potter, Carlisle, Lathrope, Macklin.
Referee: D Coote