Roberts mistake gifts Shrimpers a point

Stevenage 1 (Long 25) Southend Utd 1 (Corr 84)

MARK ROBERTS’ demeanour after the final whistle said it all.

The Boro skipper held his hands on his head and gazed agonisingly at the heavens knowing his mistake six minutes from time had just cost his team two valuable points. It was a rare mistake in what was a battling performance at the heart of the defence but substitute Barry Corr’s strike condemned Boro to their ninth league draw of the season. The result shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, though, as neither side have been strangers to stalemates in recent weeks, but manager Graham Westley admitted his team were lucky to escape with a share of the spoils after a below-par showing under the lights at the Lamex.

Boro started the match brightly and nearly went ahead after eight minutes when Peter Winn saw his powerful drive from an acute angle fly narrowly wide of Glenn Morris’ left-hand post.

Chris Holroyd and Stacy Long were the bright sparks in Boro’s attack and it was the latter who gave them the lead after 25 minutes. Scott Laird’s long throw into the box was cleared only as far as Michael Bostwick on the edge of the area and his low shot was deflected into the path of the unmarked Long who steadied himself before side-footing the ball past Morris from six yards.

It was no less than Boro deserved after a good opening spell but instead of spurring them on, the goal induced a notable dip in confidence as Southend began to dominate possession and impose themselves on the match.

Only a fantastic full-length save from Chris Day and a goal-line clearance from Bostwick just before half time ensured Boro went into the break with the lead still in tact.

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The majority of the second half passed without noteworthy incident until the 84th minute when Southend scored the equaliser. Sean Clohessy’s hopeful 50-yard ball down the line looked like food and drink for Roberts who had come across to the touchline to clear the danger. However, the centre-half ended up missing the ball completely to allow Corr the chance to nip in and poke the ball past the hesitant Jon Ashton before confidently firing past Day from 10 yards out.

It was a terrible goal to concede and even Westley admitted he was surprised to see his usually-dependable defensive duo fail to deal with what was no more than a hopeful ball up field.

There was still time for Shrimpers left-back Peter Gilbert to be shown a straight red card in the last minute for a two-footed tackle on Ashton after the referee had already blown up for a prior foul on the defender by Anthony Grant. It mattered little, though, as Boro were left to contemplate yet another draw.

Stevenage: Day, Wilson, Ashton, Roberts (c), Laird, Long, Bostwick, Bridges Foster (Bridges 45), Winn (Charles 76), May (Beardsley 45), Holroyd.

Subs not used: Bayes, Griffin, Odubade, O’Shea.

Southend United: Morris, Clohessy, Monshi, Coughlan (Prosser 65), Gilbert, Simpson, Easton (c), Grant, Soares (Corr 76), German, Midson (Sturrock 65).

Subs not used: Crawford, Herd, Evans, Ferdinand.

Att: 2,544

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