Defences on top as Stevenage and Cheltenham share the spoils

Stevenage manager Darren Sarll.

Stevenage manager Darren Sarll. - Credit: Archant

Stevenage’s winless run on the road extended to five matches after a goalless draw against Cheltenham Town, though it was a first clean sheet for the team in the league this season.

It was a game which had plenty of endeavour but called out for a player to take it by the scruff of the neck - but alas, no such performance was forthcoming and both sides had to settle for a point while for Boro it meant a third successive match without a goal.

Darren Sarll made four changes following Saturday’s defeat to 10-man Exeter City with Luke Wilkinson dropping to the bench where he was joined by both Michael Tonge and Andrew Fox. Winger Jobi McAnuff missed out with a knock.

In came Ronnie Henry at right-back while there were also starting places for Ben Kennedy, Henry Cowans and Dale Gorman.

Jack King moved back into central defence and Charlie Lee came into midfield as the formation also changed, with Sarll opting for 4-3-3.

Cheltenham shaded the first 10 minutes with a direct approach with a few of their high balls causing concern for Stevenage, including one from Daniel O’Shaughnessy which Fraser Franks failed to deal with allowing Billy Waters to test Jamie Jones.

King and Lee both had headers for Boro while Harry Pell’s low strike was pushed away from goal by Jones, before Tyler Walker forced a save out of Cheltenham keeper Russell Griffiths at the other end.

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A few too many passes went astray early doors for Stevenage but as the half progressed a spell of end-to-end football was slowly replaced by Stevenage dominance as their three in midfield began to get to grips with the game, even if Walker got little change out of Cheltenham captain Aaron Downes.

Lee and Gorman were quick to the tackle, while Cowans offered an attacking prowess that has been missing from central midfield in recent weeks.

The second half began with Cheltenham on the front foot, but they were unable to build anything substantial with only the odd shot from distance despite plenty of possession.

There were short bursts of attacking intent from the visitors, too, but these were few and far between for the first 20 or so minutes of the half.

At the other end Jones was tested once more by Pell only to dive to his left and punch the shot clear, but in truth there was little other goalmouth action of note as Stevenage’s trip to Gloucestershire ended in a whimper with each team taking a share of the spoils.

Cheltenham Town: Griffiths, Barthram (Dayton 70), O’Shaughnessy, Downes, Pell, Waters, Wright, Munns (Morgan-Smith 70), Hall, Cranston (Parslow 87), Dickie. Subs: Kitscha, Lymn, Suliman, Thomas.

Stevenage: Jones, Ntlhe, Henry, King, Franks, Lee, Cowans, Gorman (Tonge 80), Kennedy, Pett, Walker (Hyde 86). Subs: Preston, Fox, Wilkinson, Liburd, McKirdy.