Boro and Us share the spoils
Game fails to live up to thrilling opening
Stevenage 0 Oxford United 0
Last March when these two sides met, Boro’s 1-0 win all but handed them the Blue Square Premier title at the expense of their guests.
On Tuesday evening there was no title at stake, but neither team was able to find a cutting edge to carve through the other’s defence for the three points that were on offer.
For Boro it was the sixth game in a row without a win. For Oxford, it was a point and another clean sheet away from home as they look to sneak into the League 2 play-offs.
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Boro boss Graham Westley rested a trio of players following Saturday’s defeat at Shrewsbury with Chris Beardsley, Joel Byrom and Taiwo Atieno out of the first 16, and in their places came David Bridges, Ben May and Stacy Long.
Although he never found the net, May continues to improve but Bridges was out of sorts at times with his poor passing gifting the opposition plenty of possession while too often he failed to chase midfield runners through the centre of the park, leaving midfield partner Michael Bostwick to do most of the work.
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Bostwick almost put his side ahead after just 30 seconds when he rattled the crossbar from 25 yards. What was remarkable is that there was hardly any back lift to his shot - he just whacked it.
The Boro fans enjoyed it, and every time the midfielder got the ball in the Oxford half from then on he was greeted by a chorus of ‘shoooooot’ by the Boro faithful.
A section of Oxford fans were singing slightly different songs, and really should be reprimanded by their own club for some of the distasteful chants aimed at Boro boss Westley in particular.
Oxford went close themselves just a minute later when Tom Craddock broke down the right, cut inside his marker in the box and curled an effort past Chris Day and onto the far post before it was cleared.
It was a terrific opening two minutes, but unfortunately the rest of the game failed to live up to that standard.
Oxford skipper James Constable then worked an opening for Craddock but the former Luton Town man again found the woodwork, his low shot kissing the outside of the post.
Scott Laird had an effort cleared off the line and Oxford’s James Constable missed a sitter on the volley, but in all it was a decent point for Boro after a run of two away defeats.
Next up is a trip to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day 6, Laird 6, Henry 6, Roberts 7, Ashton 6, Long 6 (Sinclair 6, 65), Bridges 5, Bostwick 6, Wilson 6, Reid 6 (Winn, 72), May 6 (Harrison 5, 66). Subs not used: Bayes, Charles, Foster, Daley.
Oxford (4-4-2): Clarke 6, Tonkin 6, Wright 6, Worley 6, Purkiss 5, McLaren 6, Clist 6, Hackney 6 (MacLean 6, 63), Payne (Hall 6, 63), Constable 7 (Midson, 79), Craddock 6. Subs not used: Eastwood, Sangare, Heslop, Potter.