REPORT: Stevenage 2 Crewe Alexandra 2
Shroot rescues a point for Stevenage who feel hard done by after a late Greg Tansey ‘goal’ is ruled out for offside
Stevenage 2 Crewe Alexandra 2
npower League 1
Robin Shroot is fast becoming a cult hero at Stevenage, and with his fourth goal of the season rescuing a point against Crewe it is easy to see why.
The wide man is still not a regular starter for the club, for which this is his second season, but with regular – and vital – goals now added to his armoury, he cannot be far from nailing a spot in Gary Smith’s starting XI.
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Here, with his side 2-1 down following two Crewe goals in the first eight minutes and Luke Freeman’s first-half strike, Shroot came off the bench and with 10 minutes to go collected a Freeman pass with his back to goal.
With a defender also in close attendance, just inside the box, the wily midfielder then shifted his weight to his right and turned his man before firing past Alan Martin with his left foot and into the net.
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It was a strike which maintained Stevenage’s strong start to the season – three home draws, three away wins – but it was also the fourth game in a row in all competitions that Boro had had to come from behind after conceding within the first 12 minutes.
Smith, searching for that first home win this season, opted for Patrick Agyemang and Marcus Haber up front but his side had hardly got started when they were two goals down.
There were a number of scouts at the Lamex with many there to see hotshot Ajay Leitch-Smith and it was the Crewe striker who scored twice to put Boro on the back foot.
His first was a finish at the far post after a free-kick had hit the Stevenage wall and Mark Ellis had found Leitch-Smith from the left, and his second was a strike low to Chris Day’s right.
Haber had a header for Stevenage but failed to test Martin, but Freeman’s effort on 27 minutes, from just outside the area, beat the goalkeeper and clawed Boro back into the match.
Chances were coming thick and fast, and when Crewe’s Max Clayton broke forward he tested Day from distance but the Boro goalkeeper was able to palm the ball out for a corner.
Both sides had their shooting boots on and it was up to David Gray to keep Stevenage in the game five minutes from half-time.
Luke Murphy’s ball behind Darius Charles for Byron Moore found its target, and when the Crewe man pulled the ball back for Leitch-Smith there was a feeling of inevitability that this would be a hat-trick.
His shot beat Day but not Gray, who was on the line at the far post to clear the danger.
Stevenage started the second-half the better of the two sides, but their early possession was not turned into chances and it was the visitors who had the better of the early efforts with Ellis heading over from a corner.
Stevenage’s task then became, on paper at least, a little easier with the sending off of former loan player Chuks Aneke for a two-footed challenge on Anthony Grant.
Boro had made all three changes by the time of the equaliser with Shroot, Greg Tansey and Dani Lopez coming on, and it was Shroot who grabbed the glory.
It was a fine finish from the in-form midfielder and when Stevenage pushed on for a third they though they had pulled it off on the stroke of 90 minutes through Tansey.
Yet the substitute, collecting a Dunne shot which had taken a couple of deflections on route to him, was denied his moment after a consultation between referee and linesman ruled he had been in an offside position.
It was a cruel blow for Boro – and a decision that Smith found slightly bewildering – but it is a blow which Stevenage will aim to put behind them when they host another form side, Walsall, on Tuesday evening.
Stevenage: Day 6, Gray 7, Charles 6, Ashton 6, Roberts 6, Akins 5 (Tansey 76), Dunne 7, Grant 6 (Lopez 79), Freeman 6, Haber 6, Agyemang 5 (Shroot 64, 7). Subs: Arnold, N’Gala, Comminges, Risser.
Crewe: Martin 6, Davis 6, Ellis 7, Mellor 6, Robertson 6, Osman 6, Clayton 7, Murphy 6, Aneke 5, Leitch-Smith 8 (Tootle 76), Moore 6. Subs: Garratt, Dugdale, Turton, Guthrie, Daniels, Colclough.
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