Boro's best efforts see Exeter draw

Stevenage Boro 0 Exeter City 0 THIS result effectively ended Boro s slim play-off hopes for another season. But the effort and commitment could not be faulted as Boro and the Grecians produced a tremendous end-to-end battle on Saturday which amazingly fa

Stevenage Boro 0 Exeter City 0

THIS result effectively ended Boro's slim play-off hopes for another season.

But the effort and commitment could not be faulted as Boro and the Grecians produced a tremendous end-to-end battle on Saturday which amazingly failed to produce a goal despite a number of near misses.

Clear, sunny conditions and a good pitch made it ideal to watch football. And the 3,000 plus crowd, boosted by an impressive Exeter following, certainly got their money's worth.

The scrappy early exchanges were exemplified by Luke Oliver's late challenge in the first five seconds which could have yielded a caution.

Oliver, partnering Steve Morison up front again, matched his obvious physical presence with some neat touches as the match progressed.

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Any real threat came from the visitors early on and Boro were lucky when Matt Gill's corner was sliced on to his own bar by Adam Miller and scrambled away.

Adam Stansfield looked lively for the visitors and he shot wide at the near post after a fine flowing move from his side.

Minutes left, he left Exeter old boy Santos Gaia in his wake but John Nutter got across to cover.

Boro were struggling to get into their stride - injuries to the centre-back pairing of Gaia and skipper Ronnie Henry not helping - although Morison spectacularly volleyed over the top from a cross by Stuart Lewis.

Mitchell Cole also pulled a shot across goal as Boro ended the half without a shot on target to their name or indeed a corner.

And Exeter could have grabbed the lead in added time when Stansfield foxed Gaia again.

Stansfield opted to feed Wayne Carlisle rather than going alone and Alan Julian made a fairly comfortable stop.

Exeter, now kicking towards their own fans in the Buildbase Stand, came roaring out of the blocks in the second period.

Richard Logan headed over Lee Elam's cross under pressure from inside the six-yard area.

Carlisle then got round the back of Nutter but produced a weak finish before the same two players were involved when Nutter made a vital last-ditch clearance.

It was all Exeter at this stage but the arrival of Craig Dobson, on for Mark Beard, changed the complexion of the afternoon.

Cole should have scored when an Oliver ball put him through but he stabbed wide with his right foot.

Nutter's rasping drive straight at Martin Rice was Boro's only effort on target during the match and took 66 minutes to arrive.

This was soon followed by Boro's first corner and from the next one from Cole, Morison could only hit the side netting at the second attempt.

Exeter made a double switch in attack and both teams continued to look dangerous.

Oliver pulled a shot just wide after a clever dribble which belied his 6ft 7in frame.

Then Julian displayed the form which won him The Comet's player of the season award.

Gill's brilliant shot from an acute angle looking to be dipping in before Julian got fingertips to the ball to push it on to the bar.

The same Exeter man was also unlucky when a goalbound header from sub Jamie Mackie's cross was blocked by Barry Fuller.

This excitement continued as Boro broke and Morison crossed for Cole to waste another gilt-edged opportunity.

The former Southend man held his head in his hands as he realised Boro's play-off dream could be over at this point.

There was still time for Morison to go close with a header from a Miller free-kick deep into added time but that was that.

Boro boss Mark Stimson said: "It was a fantastic game of football with some great support.

"We needed to win, we didn't, but it wasn't for a lack of effort."

Boro's form in March and April has dipped since reaching the FA Trophy final and Stimson admitted: "Since it's been announced the final would be at Wembley, we haven't won as many games as we should. Perhaps players are thinking of it; that's understandable."

The Boro manager praised his 'new' striker Oliver.

"I thought Luke was our best player; he has got great feet which we have seen in training. Only time will tell what his best position will turn out to be.

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