Oldham Athletic 1 Stevenage 1

Mark Roberts on target for Boro in Boundary Park draw

Oldham Athletic 1 Stevenage 1

npower League 1

Stevenage and Oldham shared the spoils at Boundary Park after Shefki Kuqi cancelled out Mark Roberts’ early header.

Roberts had struck first for the visitors on four minutes after nodding home Michael Bostwick’s wayward volley, but Graham Westley’s men failed to turn the screw against a shell-shocked Oldham side who were able to work their way back into the game culminating in Kuqi tapping home on 19 minutes.

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The home side perhaps had the better of the chances - Kuqi should have won his side all three points but missed a header from six yards midway through the second half – but Stevenage were rarely outclassed against a side which focused on pumping balls into the Boro box in the hope that Kuqi would get change from the Boro back line.

Boro, unchanged from their victory over Rochdale last week, saw Craig Reid and Chris Beardsley resume their partnership up front but it was Roberts who put them ahead.

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Boro had a corner on the right and Oldham failed to pick up Bostwick running into the box. The midfielder was the target for John Mousinho’s cross, and as he made contact with the ball he directed it into the path of Roberts and the Boro skipper headed home from four yards.

Zander Diamond headed wide from a free kick minutes later, but Oldham levelled the game on 19 minutes when Kuqi diverted a Chris Taylor free kick past Chris Day.

Boro were guilty of squandering possession far too easily and allowing the home side to build attacks, with Taylor a menace when cutting in from the left.

It was the winger who was next to strike at goal, but Day was quickly behind it and was able to hold on.

Oldham made a change at the break with debutant Robbie Simpson replacing the injured Diamond forcing Nathan Clarke to move into the centre of defence.

Boro began the half with Mousinho firing low at Alex Cisak only for the goalkeeper to fumble the ball to safety before a blocked Beardsley shot was gratefully held by the Oldham stopper.

Both defences were on top and when Roberts got on the end of a Charles cross from the left he was well marked and could only nod wide.

Rueben Reid had a shout for a penalty with 25 minutes to go but the striker saw his appeal meet a deaf ear.

Reid had managed to wriggle free of his marker and made his way into the box but was met by Day and as both players collided Reid went over and Day claimed to have got something on the ball, with the referee agreeing with the latter.

Day was in action again soon afterwards when Tom Adeyemi played in substitute Matt Smith and from a tight angle, eight yards from goal, the substitute fired goalwards only to see Day tip the ball over his bar.

The home side were seeing plenty of the ball and looked the most likely to score a winner, and they almost did when Kuqi got on the ball with 10 minutes to go.

Taylor was the provider of an accurate ball to the big forward but although Kuqi was unmarked he headed clear of the crossbar from six yards.

While Kuqi and his strike partners – firstly Reid, and then Smith – held the ball up well to allow team-mates into the game, the same could not be said of the Boro front line of Beardsley and Craig Reid who struggled to shrug off tight marking from the Oldham back line.

With just over a minute to go Simpson stepped up to fire a free kick just past Day’s left-hand post before Jean Yves M’Voto headed wide from another set piece, but although Oldham finished the game strongly they were unable to force the ball past Day and Boro looked fairly content with their point.

Oldham (4-4-2): Cisak, Lee, Clarke, M’Voto, Diamond (Simpson 46), Adeyemi, Taylor, Wesolowski, Winchester, Reid (Smith 66), Kuqi. Subs: Gerrard, Mellor, Millar.

Stevenage (4-4-2): Day, Henry, Charles, Bostwick, Roberts, Wilson (Walker 60), Laird (Long 79), Mousinho, Byrom (Shroot 66), Reid, Beardsley. Subs: Julian, Edwards.

Att: 3,402

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