Late Day penalty save earns point for Boro
Aldershot Town 1 Stevenage 1 npower League 2
npower League 2
CHRIS Day’s late penalty save earned Stevenage a point from an entertaining match at the EBB Stadium after Chris Beardsley’s 51st minute opener had been cancelled out by Damian Spencer.
Day saved from Marvin Morgan after Jon Ashton had brought Spencer down in the box on 85 minutes and although the ball was poked into the net from the rebound a foul in the box saw referee Mark Halsey rule the effort out.
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Boro will be pleased with a draw against a strong and attack-minded Aldershot side and after the match manager Graham Westley said he didn’t think the hosts would drop many points at home for the remainder of the season.
The bad news for Boro was that they had to play more than three quarters of the game without Charlie Griffin.
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The striker dropped to the floor after a challenge on 20 minutes and although he tried to walk off the pitch he was unsteady on his feet and after some prolonged medical attention he was then taken from the stadium to hospital.
Griffin had begun the game upfront alongside Beardsley and Yemi Odubade, who was back in the side after missing last weekend’s win over Stockport County through injury, while Scott Laird, Griffin’s eventual replacement, lost out at left-back to Darius Charles.
Both sides looked to get the ball down on the floor in the opening exchanges but it was Aldershot who had the better of the opening 30 minutes as they controlled the midfield, found plenty of space and tested Day on a number of occasions.
Anthony Charles was the first to go close, shooting over from 12 yards, and then Jamie Vincent shot just past the left hand post with a diving Day in close attendance.
Between these efforts Aldershot had a decent penalty shout turned down when a cross from the right hit Charles on the arm, but the ball was perhaps too close to the defender when it was struck for him to do anything about it.
Boro had some terrific defending, notably from captain Mark Roberts, to thank as some last-ditch blocks prevented Day from having to dirty his shirt once more but they had to make a tactical change on 25 minutes when Griffin went off.
Boro’s top scorer this season, Griffin has hit some good form early in this campaign but in a way his departure, and the introduction of Scott Laird, saw Boro up their game.
Until that point Aldershot’s Luke Gutteridge had run the show and had been a constant menace down the left.
Laird’s introduction, and his proclivity to attack the Aldershot right-back, saw Gutteridge moved to the right to try to halt his runs and in doing saw he became less effective as the half went on.
Laird gave Boro an outlet on the left but also allowed Boro to string four across midfield to close the gaps they had been leaving previously.
Ben Harding had a shot at Chris Day midway through the half and Boro then made a second change with the struggling Darius Charles taken off for David Bridges for the midfielder’s first action of the season.
Chris Beardsley had a goal ruled out from a Scott Laird free kick with a minute of normal time left through offside, but Boro went in to the break perhaps happy to be on level terms.
Not for the first time this season Boro began the second period with the intention of taking the game to their opponents.
John Mousinho and Michael Bostwick began to hold the ball better and started to dictate play and Beardsley led the front line well with Odubade in good support.
The front pairing of Odubade and Beardsley combined for the opening goal when the former headed the ball down and the latter ran on to it, 20 yards out, and placed his shot past Jamie Young and into the net for his first of the season.
Bostwick headed into Young’s arms as Boro looked to add to their lead but the hosts had showed in the first half they had enough up front to trouble Boro and they had a deflected shot go just wide of the post to prove the point.
Bridges then had a shot at goal but Young caught it and unleashed a big punt upfield to Spencer.
The ball bounced over the head of Ashton and as he and Day waited for the other to clear the ball, Spencer snuck in, pinched the ball and shot into an empty net with Ashton chasing.
Laird went close with a free kick only to see it land on top of the net as both sides pushed for a goal but as the entertaining half was coming to an end Ashton brought down Anthony Straker in the box with five minutes to go.
The defender was lucky to stay on the field having already been booked in the half and a minute’s waiting up stepped Morgan only to see Day save his effort.
Ben Harding had the last effort of the game, but his long range free kick was tipped over the bar by Day, and Stevenage held on for a deserved point.
Aldershot (4-2-3-1): Young, Herd, Vincent, Jones, Charles, Harding, Panther, Gutteridge (Spencer, 59), Little (Small, 76), Straker (McGlashan, 87), Morgan. Subs: Hylton, Fortune, Halls, Kitteridge.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day, Henry, Charles (Bridges, 38), Ashton, Roberts, Bostwick, Mousinho, Sinclair (Wilson, 89), Griffin (Laird, 25), Odubade, Beardsley. Subs: Bayes, Foster, Byrom, Sills.
Attendance: 2,525 (246 away)
Referee: Mark Halsey