REPORT: Chesterfield 1 Stevenage 1
Boro have to settle for a point following a last-minute Chesterfield equaliser
Chesterfield 1 Stevenage 1
npower League 1
BORO were made to settle for a point on Saturday after conceding a last-minute goal for the second time in the space of five days.
After being knocked out of the Carling Cup by a 120th minute Peterborough penalty on Tuesday evening, Graham Westley’s men succumbed to a 97th minute Jack Lester header at the B2net Stadium.
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By that time Stevenage had already been reduced to 10 men after Michael Bostwick had picked up two yellow cards but that Boro were disappointed with just one point against last season’s League 2 champions says much about the direction in which the club hopes to be heading.
While their hosts appear to have taken a step back since last year - they lost top scorer Craig Davies to Barnsley and were devoid of creativity except for Drew Talbot - Boro on the other hand kept their best XI this summer and have added to it with some promising acquisitions including Phil Edwards.
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After Bostwick’s departure midway through the second half Darius Charles dropped back into midfield to plug the gap, and it was those two players who had earlier combined to give Stevenage the lead towards the end of an, until that point, nondescript first half.
Boro had won a corner on the right to be taken by Stacy Long and as the midfielder crossed into the box Bostwick pulled away from his marker at the far post and floated a header back across goal where, in a crowded area, Charles got a flick on the ball to nudge it past Tommy Lee and into the home goal.
Until that point the game had not come to life, yet for the next five minutes until half time there was a concerted effort by both sides to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Chesterfield had two good chances before the break with both falling to Lester. The first saw Boro ‘keeper Alan Julian caught underneath a cross before Lester aimed a header at goal only for Ronnie Henry to clear. Moments later the same man headed against the post from a yard after another deep cross found him at the far post.
The game had suddenly burst into life but the second half failed to match the final five minutes of the first period.
There were chances - Mark Roberts headed home on 53 minutes but the whistle had already been blown for a foul while Lester shot behind on the hour-mark - yet the major incident of the half saw Bostwick see a second yellow for a mistimed challenge on Mark Allott.
Charles dropped back into midfield and Chris Beardsley came on soon afterwards for the sluggish Byron Harrison, but even with 10 men Stevenage restricted their opponents to half-chances.
There was one occasion when the home side looked like levelling matters in normal time, and it came from an incident involving Julian.
The goalkeeper showed against Peterborough midweek that Boro have got themselves a really good practitioner in the art of shot stopping, but there must be concerns about his proclivity to get into predicaments when it comes to coming off his line.
On this occasion a ball was played into space behind the Boro back line and Julian set off in a foot race to the edge of his area with Jordan Browery. The goalkeeper got their first but as he slid on the floor to collect it he only got a slight touch on the ball which ran past him. So too did Bowery, and it was only because the striker snapped at his shot first time from a tight angle that Boro remained unscathed.
That was, of course, until Lester headed home deep into injury time. Many of the home fans had already begun heading for the exits when Dean Morgan picked up the ball on the left. Given too much space he put a cross on to the head of Lester who had outjumped his marker to send the ball past Julian to nestle in the corner.
It was tough to take for Boro, but take it they must. Two points from two games is a reasonable return but Westley’s men face a much sterner test on Tuesday when they travel to AFC Bournemouth. Chris Day, who was on the bench here, could be back for that match but whatever side Boro put out they will face a touch encounter against a team that has scored seven goals in two home victories these past seven days.
Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee 6, Talbot 7, Mattis 6, Downes 6 (Boden 88), Smith 6, Whitaker 5, Allott 7 (Randall 78), Niven 6 (Bowery 63, 6), Holden 5, Morgan 7, Lester 6. Subs: Fleming, Darikwa.
Boro (4-4-2): Julian 6, Henry 6, Laird 6, Ashton 7, Roberts 6, Wilson 6, Long 6 (Shroot 72), Edwards 6, Bostwick 6, Charles 6, Harrison 5 (Beardsley 71, 6). Subs: Day, Myrie-Williams, May.
Att: 5,836 (203)