Late Wilson strike salvages point for Boro
Stockport County 2-2 Stevenage
“WE played like a side that had been standing in the corridors of the hotel at three o’clock in the morning after the fire alarms had gone off.”
That was Graham Westley’s take on his team’s performance after the 2-2 draw with Stockport County.
And no, it was not some kind of strange metaphor – he and his players had, in actual fact, been woken from their beds in the early hours of Saturday morning after the alarms had started sounding in their nearby hotel.
Despite his disappointment, Boro were able to salvage a point at a gloriously sunny Edgeley Park through Lawrie Wilson’s superb 90th minute volley in front of the 190 away supporters who had journeyed up from the south.
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Mark Roberts continued his trend of scoring on each recent visit to the north with his sixth goal of the season early in the second half before a Greg Tansey penalty and Matt Paterson header had looked like giving the Hatters all three points prior to Wilson’s late strike.
Despite dropping their first points after a run of six straight victories, Boro remain very much in the play-off hunt as they only fell one place to sixth as a result of the draw.
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Boro started the match on the front foot and created their first chance on 10 minutes.
Ronnie Henry intercepted a pass inside his own half before sending the ball out to Craig Reid on the left touchline, but his through ball was not taken advantage of as Darius Charles blazed high and wide from a tight angle with little support from his teammates in the box.
Boro’s game plan of hitting the ball long to Charles and picking up the second ball was working well as John Mousinho, Michael Bostwick and Jon Ashton pressured their opponents in the middle of the park into making mistakes and losing possession, and as a result Stockport struggled to get out of their own half.
Boro’s best chance of the first half fell to Reid on 25 minutes. Mousinho picked out Wilson on the right with a superb 50-yard pass before Bostwick fired in a low cross which found its way to an unmarked Reid at the far post.
However the striker struggled to get the ball out of his feet with only the goalkeeper to beat and Mark Lynch was able to get in a last-ditch tackle to send the ball behind for a corner.
Stockport gradually got themselves into the match and they had their best spell after the half-hour mark when Boro stopped pressing their opponents high up the pitch and sat back – much to the frustration of Westley in the dugout.
Boro were inviting pressure on themselves and unsurprisingly Stockport created the best chance of the match.
Danny Rowe, who was a constant menace to Henry all afternoon, was sent clear down the left and his pull-back found James Vincent unmarked in the middle but his left-footed effort from 15 yards curled agonisingly past Chris Day’s left-hand post.
Boro emerged for the second half minus Bostwick who had been replaced by Rob Sinclair. Bostwick had suffered the injury 25 minutes into the first half but battled through until half time.
Straight away Stockport looked to take the initiative and they had two chances in quick succession to take the lead.
Firstly, Greg Tansey skipped his way into the Boro penalty area before sending a low shot across the face of goal. Wallace pounced on the loose ball at the other side of the box and his shot from a tight angle was well tipped over by Day.
Despite Stockport’s early pressure, it was Boro who took the lead on 55 minutes with Roberts continuing his hot streak in front of goal.
Henry’s free kick from deep picked out Mousinho who had pulled away smartly from Lynch on the left side of the box, and his expert first time cross was met by the Boro skipper at the far post who guided a first time shot past Glennon into the far corner.
Boro struggled to build on their advantage and it was the Hatters who continued to dominate large spells of the play and they went close twice more in the same move through Paterson, only for Day to thwart his first attempt before the rebound was fired over the crossbar from just inside the box.
It was clear Boro were missing the steel and presence of Bostwick in the middle of the park, and as a result Stockport’s James Wallace and Greg Tansey began to enjoy a lot more possession and were able to dictate the play.
Stockport scored the equaliser on 63 minutes through a controversial handball decision given against Wilson.
Rowe’s cross from the left struck Wilson on what appeared to be the shoulder, but referee Geoff Eltringham deemed Wilson to have deliberately handled and Tansey stepped up to send Day the wrong way from the spot.
The Boro players were also adamant Wilson was outside the area when the ball struck him but their claims fell on deaf ears.
Stockport clearly had the bit between their teeth and Boro were not able to cope with the relentless pressure imposed on them in their own half.
Stockport made their pressure tell on 66 minutes when they went in front through Paterson.
The Stockport striker barely had a sniff in the first half but he was proving to be a real thorn in Boro’s side alongside substitute striker Anthony Elding, and the pair of them combined well to cause confusion in the Boro defence following a long clearance and Paterson was able to head into the empty net after Day had failed to punch clear.
Full credit must go to Westley’s side, though, as they never gave up despite the lack of clear-cut chances in the second half, and they were rewarded with the equaliser in the 90th minute.
Sinclair found himself in space on the left and his cross picked out Wilson who crashed home a textbook volley to send the Boro fans behind the goal into delight.
Stockport County (4-5-1): Glennon 6, Lynch 6, Assoumani 7, Brown 6, Griffin 8, Rowe 8, Wallace 8, Turnbull (c) 5 (Fisher 31 7), Vincent 6 (Elding 61 7), Paterson 7.
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Goodall, Poole, Halls, Rose.
Stevenage (4-3-3): Day 6, Henry 6, Roberts (c) 7, Ashton 6, Laird 6, Bostwick (Sinclair 45) 7, Foster 6 (Harrison 68 5), Mousinho 7, Wilson 7, Reid 6 (Beardsley 60 5), Charles 6.
Subs not used: Welch, Long, Winn, Bridges.
Attendance: 3,449 (190).