REPORT: AFC Bournemouth 1 Stevenage 1
Boro earn a point at form side Bournemouth as Greg Tansey scores again
AFC Bournemouth 1 Stevenage 1
npower League 1
Make no bones about it – this was a good point for Stevenage.
Coming into the game Boro had posted a bad run of results while their free-scoring hosts have been on an ascent up the table ever since Eddie Howe returned to the helm at the start of October.
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And although Bournemouth had the better – and the majority – of the chances, Stevenage held firm at the back in their most confident and composed defensive performance for weeks.
They were helped by good shifts from goalkeeper Steve Arnold and midfielder Anthony Grant who, sitting in front of the back four, put in a disciplined and dogged display, while up front there was better support for Marcus Haber in the most cohesive Stevenage display for a while.
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Boro were without the suspended Filipe Morais while Luke Freeman was missing due to personal reasons, and they started with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Bondz N’Gala coming back into central defence, Darius Charles moving to left-back and Lee Hills pushing up into midfield.
Gary Smith’s men had an early scare when Marc Pugh, who signed a new three-and-a-half year deal with the Cherries this week, bamboozled Lucas Akins and made his way into the box only for Boro to clear.
Moments later – in a scenario reminiscent of Saturday’s woeful performance at Sheffield United – the home side sent a cross into the box and three players were unmarked on the six-yard line only for Arnold to pull off a save.
Akins had a sniff at goal but fired over, but on 25 minutes Haber found Tansey, who was getting forward at every opportunity, and the midfielder put his laces through the ball to fire in the opening goal from 20 yards off the underside of the bar.
Charlie Daniels tried his luck from distance later in the half, only for Arnold to get behind his low drive, but on the whole the first half was an even affair with Tansey’s goal the difference going into the break.
Bournemouth brought on Matt Tubbs for Lee Barnard at the break, but it was Harry Arter who had the hosts’ first attempt at goal as he fired low and hard but just wide of Arnold’s left-hand post.
Bournemouth’s next chance was perhaps a better one, but when Pugh sent in a deep cross to the far post Daniels, under pressure, could only volley over the bar from close range.
The same player then poked the ball wide of the post with his left foot when he should have put the ball on his right and curled it around Arnold.
Boro were on the back foot for the first 20 minutes of the second half and although they looked a little jittery at times, as a side that has conceded as many as it has in recent weeks will do, they got bodies back and made it difficult for the home side.
Pugh made a good run along the edge of the 18-yard box, only for Lewis Grabban to fluff his lines with an angled shot, but just two minutes later the home side were level when Tubbs headed home at the far post from a cross across the face of goal.
Not content with a point, the home side pushed forward for a second and Shaun MacDonald struck goalwards only for his shot to be gathered by Arnold before, a moment later, Grabban headed wide when he should have buried his effort.
With just five minutes to go Arnold then pulled off a fine save to hook Miles Addison’s header out for a corner, and a minute into injury time the same player pulled off a smart stop with his foot to keep the home side at bay.
At the other end Robbie Rogers, on for Hills, cut inside to shoot at goal only for David James to save as both sides went for the winner in the closing minutes, but neither team was able to hit the back of the net and both had to settle for a draw.
Bournemouth may have been disappointed with a point for all the chances they created, but this was more like the resilient Boro of old, and something for Stevenage to build on ahead of this weekend’s home game against league-leaders Tranmere Rovers.
Bournemouth (4-4-2): James 6; Francis 6, Daniels 7, Elphick 6, Addison 7; McQuid 6 (Fletcher 85), Pugh 8, MacDonald 6, Arter 6; Barnard 5 (Tubbs 46, 7), Grabban 6. Subs not used: Jalal, Cook, McDermott, O’Kane, Fogden.
Stevenage (4-1-4-1): Arnold 8; Gray 6, Charles 6, Roberts 6, N’Gala 6; Grant 8; Hills 6 (Rogers 67, 6), Akins 7, Dunne 6, Tansey 7 (Shroot 82); Haber 7 (Agyemang 72). Subs not used: Day, Comminges, Iro, Risser.
Att: 5504 (136)
Ref: Tim Robinson