Stevenage 1 Shrewsbury Town 1 - match report
Boro remain eighth after draw with Shrewsbury
Stevenage 1 Shrewsbury Town 1
CHRIS Holroyd’s first half strike gave Boro a share of the spoils in a hard fought game with Shrewsbury Town.
The in-form striker was back in the starting XI after missing last weekend’s FA Cup tie with MK Dons, and he made an immediate impression on his return by scoring Boro’s only goal.
Holroyd’s effort was cancelled out in the second half by Matt Harrold, but the striker’s run of six goals in nine games shows just how important a player he has been for Boro since he joined on loan, and how much he will be missed should Boro be unable to keep hold of him after his loan deal expires on Boxing Day.
Boro, as is their custom at home, started on the front foot with Holroyd sending a Michael Bostwick cross wide of goal on two minutes, but they were soon ahead when the same two players - plus Shrewsbury goalkeeper Chris Neal - combined for the opening goal.
Standing 25 yards from goal with a free kick at their disposal, Boro had the opportunity to test Neal and they did just that. Scott Laird ran over the ball and down the left of the wall, causing the blockade to stretch and leave a gap.
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Through that gap Bostwick sent a low shot at goal, and Neal could only block it and Holroyd followed up to make it one-nil.
Five times in the first 20 minutes Holroyd was caught offside, but this time he had timed his run perfectly.
Boro were looking dangerous on the ball, and they could have made it two on 20 minutes. Lawrie Wilson, playing more centrally than he has in recent weeks, received the ball with his back to goal 25 yards out. He snuck the ball past the tall frame of Exodus Geohaghon, ran into the box and rather than shoot with his weaker left foot tried to curl the ball with the outside of his right. The ball did curl, but not enough and it went out of play the wrong side of goal.
Boro were looking comfortable on the ball and at one point strung 25 passes together from one end of the pitch to the other only to see an attempted cross into the box get deflected out for a corner.
The movement up front of Holroyd and Ben May was creating the space for Mousinho and Wilson, while Bostwick kept demanding the ball in the middle and tried to catch Neal out again with long-range efforts on more than one occasion.
May saw an effort blocked inside the box, but Shrewsbury then remind Boro of their own goalscoring capabilities when they broke down Boro’s right with Jake Robinson beating Jon Ashton for pace. His shot from just inside the box and across Chris Day was pushed out for a corner by the Stevenage goalkeeper.
Neal had looked susceptible to shots all afternoon and Bostwick tested him against just before the break, and the ‘keeper duly responded by spilling the effort. This time, however, he beat Holroyd to the ball and gathered.
Shrewsbury made two changes at half time in an attempt to get back into the game, and it worked.
On came Matt Harrold and Benjamin Van Den Broek, and it was the former who made the difference but not before May’s 20-yard shot went through Neal’s hands, hit him on the head and the ‘keeper gathered second time of asking.
Boro rarely get caught out cold, but that’s exactly what happened on 55 minutes when Sean McAllister took a free kick from inside the centre circle. The ball was fed inside Ronnie Henry for Kevin McIntyre to chase, and the speedy midfielder did just that.
With four defenders and two strikers running into the box there were plenty of bodies to hit and McIntyre found a sliding Harrold who beat Laird to the ball and poked it home for the equaliser.
It was the first goal Boro had conceded in five games, and it galvanised the hosts who went close through Holroyd and Mousinho.
Shrewsbury began to see more of the ball without creating any clear-cut opportunities, while Boro were restricted to shots from outside the box at the other end. Holroyd and substitute Griffin both had efforts at goal, but the best was that of Scott Laird who tried a dipping, swerving shot which would have crept in the corner of the goal had it not been for a feint header from Cansdell-Sherriff to flick it away from danger.
Mark Wright dragged a shot wide for the visitors on the stroke of 90 minutes, but Boro were able to hold on for a draw, a point which sees them remain eighth in League 2.
Boro (4-4-2): Day, Henry, Laird, Roberts, Ashton, Wilson (Bridges, 83), O’Shea (Odubade, 64), Mousinho, Bostwick, Holroyd, May (Griffin, 64). Subs: Bayes, Foster, Long, Byrom.
Shrewsbury: Neal, Sadler, Holden, Cansdell-Sherriff, Geohaghon, McAllister, Disley, McIntyre, Obadeyi (Harrold, 46), Wright, Robinson (Van Den Broek, 46). Subs: Smith, Sharps, Leslie, Neal, Taylor.
Referee: R East.