League Two: Stevenage 2 Tranmere Rovers 2
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Stevenage were pegged back for a 2-2 draw against League Two new boys Tranmere Rovers on the opening day of the season.
The hosts got off to a flying start with goals from new signings James Ball and Joel Byrom, but a brace from James Norwood stole a point for the visitors before Boro went down to 10 men late on when Johnny Hunt was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Tranmere started the stronger of the two sides and had the majority of the possession in the opening few minutes.
Striker Cole Stockton had the first real chance of the match in the fourth minute but sent a header just over the bar after a corner was taken short.
But Dino Maamria’s Stevenage side weathered the storm and grew into the game as time went on.
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It soon resulted in a period of dominant possession for Boro and the deadlock was soon broken in the 20th minute when Ball netted his first goal for the club since joining from Stockport County in the summer.
The 22-year-old midfielder fired a shot into the bottom left corner of the net after captain Alex Revell had pushed the ball across the edge of the box for his team-mate.
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Seven minutes later it was almost an identical goal which put Boro 2-0 up thanks to Byrom.
The 31-year-old also slotted his shot into the left corner past keeper Scott Davies to endear himself to the fans after returning to the club in the summer after six years away from the Broadhall Way club.
Rovers found a way back into the clash when striker Norwood netted in the 33rd minute as he capitalised on some sloppy defending from the hosts and it stayed that way until the half-time break.
The visitors came out after the break fired up and pushed Boro back right from the off and were rewarded in the 55th minute when Norwood bundled home his second goal of the match at the far post from a chipped free-kick to make it 2-2.
In the 68th minute substitute Danny Newton had his effort denied on the line after he was picked out inside the box by team-mate Emmanuel Sonupe.
But six minutes later after a spell of dominance Boro found themselves down to 10 men after right-back Hunt was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for hacking down Rovers substitute Ben Tollitt.
Norwood almost completed his hat-trick on a couple of occasions in the later stages of the match but fell short.
And Boro skipper Revell also had a chance to seal the points in the 84th minute as his little flick-on went just of the post.
Both sides had a few chances in the final stages but neither failed to capitalise – meaning both left with a point.
Stevenage: Farman, Wildin, Cuthbert, Nugent, Hunt, Byrom, Ball (Ferry 53), Timlin (Sonupe 64), Kennedy, Reid (Newton 58), Revell. Unused subs: Dieng, Henry, Iontton, Guthrie.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Caprice, Sutton, McNulty, Bakayogo, Smith (Tollitt 70), Harris, Banks, Jennings, Stockton, Norwood. Unused subs: George, Monthe, Ellis, Mullin, Gilmour, Cole.