Stevenage 0-0 Millwall – honours even as new Boro keeper Joe Fryer shines
- Credit: Paul Dennis/TGS Photo
Goalkeeper Joe Fryer gave a man-of-the-match performance as Stevenage held Championship side Millwall to a 0-0 draw.
The game was Boro’s final home pre-season game before the start of the new League Two season and they battled well against a strong Stevenage side.
Darren Sarll named a number of new signings in the starting line-up, including Dan Newton and former Millwall defender Joe Martin.
Tom Conlon also started as he continues to step up his recovery after missing nine months with a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Boro were, however, missing young star Ben Kennedy, who continues to struggle with a groin injury picked towards the end of last season.
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Last season top scorer, Matt Godden, was also missing through injury.
There was also disappointing news for Stevenage fans as former club favourite Steve Morison was not named in the Millwall squad.
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The Lions had the opening chance of the game with Aiden O’Brien forcing a save from Boro ‘keeper Fryer, diving low to his left.
Stevenage then had their first chance through Luke Wilkinson. The defender was left unmarked at a corner but he couldn’t keep his powerful header down.
The deadlock was almost broken with 15 minutes gone after a long kick from Millwall goalkeeper Tom King released Fred Onyedinma. Despite Boro appealing for offside, the flag stayed down and the pacey striker found himself one-on-one with Fryer.
The goalkeeper – who joined Stevenage on a season-long loan – spread himself big to make a crucial save at the feet of Onyedinma to keep the scores level.
At the other end, Stevenage started to turn the screw with wingers Harry Beautyman and Alex Samuel looking especially bright in the late evening sunshine.
The pair first combined with 18 minutes gone as Beautyman forced a point blank from King following a driving run into the penalty box by Samuel.
The best chance of the first-half came just six minutes later and it was former Swansea attacker Samuel who should have scored.
Millwall cleared a Dale Gorman corner but only as far as Beautyman, whose deflected drive looped over the Lions back line and to the feet of Samuel.
The 21-year-old let the ball bounce in front of him but he rushed his half volley, dragging his shot wide of the post and just beyond Joe Martin at the far post.
Having missed a chance to take the lead, Boro had Wilkinson to thank for keeping Millwall at bay.
The Championship side capitalised on some nervous Stevenage defending, winning the ball in the 18-yard box. Having already seen a good chance foiled by Fryer, Millwall forward Onyedinma looked certain to score, but Wilkinson made a well-timed sliding tackle to save Boro.
Onyedinma – a Millwall academy graduate – then hit the post just before the half-time whistle.
The 20-year-old was left free inside the penalty area once again and had time to pick his stop. However, his scuffed shot hit the base of the Stevenage post and rolled into the thankful arms of Fryer.
Millwall dominated the opening 20 minutes of the second half and they would have been ahead had it not been for two superb saves from the impressive Fryer.
The shot stopper – who spent last season on loan at relegated Hartlepool United – acrobatically kept out a header from Millwall striker Tom Elliot that looked destined for the back of the net.
Fryer then made his best save of the night just past the hour mark. Jed Wallace broke down the right and into the Stevenage box, with his low deflected drive zipping up off the turf. Flying to his right, Fryer was able to get a strong hand on the ball to tip the shot away to safety.
He then made another save from Wallace, with Boro’s best chance sandwiched in between.
Samuel shot straight into the arms of Lions ‘keeper King as Darren Sarll’s men struggled to impose themselves on second half proceedings.
Both teams tired in the last 15 minutes and neither side had any further chances to win and the game finished goalless.