Boro held on opening day by Tamworth
Stevenage Boro 1 Tamworth 1 Boro had to be content with a point against Tamworth on the opening day of the Blue Square Premier season after squandering the lead. Lee Boylan put Boro ahead from the penalty spot after Scott Laird had been fouled inside th
Stevenage Boro 1 Tamworth 1
Boro had to be content with a point against Tamworth on the opening day of the Blue Square Premier season after squandering the lead.
Lee Boylan put Boro ahead from the penalty spot after Scott Laird had been fouled inside the penalty area and it looked like Graham Westley's side would cruise to a routine home win after dominating the early stages.
But Tamworth proved themselves to be made of sterner stuff and levelled through Bradley Pritchard in the 29th minute after he got behind the Boro back four.
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Stevenage had chances to win it late on through Charlie Griffin and Michael Bostwick but a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing saw the Lambs grind out a draw.
Joel Byrom was shown a straight red card in injury time for a high challenge on Pritchard to complete a disappointing day for the Boro faithful.
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Boro could have been in front as early as the seventh minute when Darren Murphy met Andy Drury's corner at the near post but the Irishman's stooping header went into the side netting.
But five minutes later Boro went in front thanks to a wonderful free-flowing move.
Michael Bostwick's 40-yard pass out to Stacy Long was bettered only by the former Ebbsfleet man's first time pass into the path of the buccaneering Scott Laird down the left flank.
Laird's progress into the penalty area was then halted by Michael Briscoe and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Boylan stepped up in the absence of regular penalty taker Mitchell Cole and calmly sent goalkeeper Daniel Alcock the wrong way to give Boro the dream start to their 2009/10 campaign.
Tamworth hadn't settled into the game at all well and Boro threatened to steamroller the opposition in the early stages.
However, they failed to turn this pressure into goals and just before the half-hour mark the Lambs equalised against the run of play.
Bradley Pritchard found space between the two Boro centre halves and Chris Day could only get a slight hand to his shot before seeing the ball nestle in the corner.
The goal visibly lifted Tamworth and they started to show some of the form that saw them win the Blue Square North title last season while Boro had been knocked out of their attacking rhythm.
Tamworth could have taken the lead just before the break when a speculative shot by Neil MacKenzie from 25 yards whistled just wide of Day's left hand post.
Chris Smith then went tantalisingly close to making it 2-1 early in the second half when he found space in the Boro penalty area but his low cross flashed across the face of goal without a Tamworth player there to apply the finishing touch needed.
Boro were lacking any kind of penetration going forward and Mitchell Cole was brought on to liven up their attack in the 57th minute.
The former Grays man was into the action quickly, skinning full back Richard Tait, but his low cross from the by-line was cleared away from danger.
Cole's introduction saw the momentum swing in Boro's favour and Byrom went close with a rasping effort from 20 yards that flew just over the crossbar in the 64th minute.
Mark Roberts should have put Boro back in front but he headed over after finding himself in acres of space inside the Tamworth penalty area.
Griffin then had a great chance when Drury played him in on goal but the former Salisbury man dragged his shot wide from a tight angle.
Westley's side were turning the screw as Tamworth sat deeper and deeper, seemingly content to take a point. Alcock made a fantastic save to tip a Bostwick header on to the crossbar after the youngster had met Byrom's pinpoint free-kick.
Stevenage Boro (4-4-2): Day 6, Henry 6, Bostwick 6, Roberts 6, Laird 7, Drury 6 (Ashton 90), Murphy 7, Byrom 7, Long 6 (Cole 57, 7), Boylan 6 (Odubade 90), Griffin 6. Subs not used: Bayes, Beardsley.
Tamworth (4-3-3): Alcock 7, Tait 6, Briscoe 6, Smith 6, Wylde 6, Shaw 6(Benjamin 79), Rodman 6, Mackenzie 7, Pritchard 7, Sheridan 7, Wright 6 (Blackwood 63). Subs not used: Lyttle, Lake-Gaskin, Nicholson.
Referee: Stephen Ross (Lincolnshire)