Morecambe 1-1 Stevenage: Late wonder strike from substitute Fraser Franks salvages a point for battling Boro

PUBLISHED: 17:14 13 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:53 13 January 2018

Fraser Franks was Stevenage's hero at Morecambe on Saturday. Pictured earlier in the season: Image Danny Loo

Fraser Franks was Stevenage's hero at Morecambe on Saturday. Pictured earlier in the season: Image Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Stevenage grabbed a late point after a stunning long range strike that was a contender for goal of the day from substitute Fraser Franks in the 89th minute.

The powerful shot from outside the area stunned the home team who had been on the verge of picking up a third win in three games following a 23rd minute goal from the experienced Kevin Ellision.

Off the pitch-before the match it had been a red-letter day on Saturday in terms of milestones for Stevenage.

Captain, leader, legend Ronnie Henry made his 469th appearance for the club at the Globe Arena on the Fylde Coast, moving one ahead of previous record holder Mark Smith while Ben Kennedy marked his 100th appearance after turning 21 on Friday.

Boss Darren Sarll made one change from the starting XI against Reading in the FA CUp third round at the Lamex a week ago as Dale Gorman replaced the injured Mark McKee.

With Boro sitting in 16th place in League Two before kick-off it was imperative the side put in a decent performance not only to push up the table but to give them a boost before their fourth round replay against Jaap Stam’s Reading on Tuesday.

Morecambe were placed in 20th position on 28 points, five behind their visitors.

The Shrimps were keen to avenge a 2-1 defeat in North Herts back in September after goals from Matty Godden and loan signing Kyle Wooton clinched the three points for Boro with only a Steve Old consolation for the away team. A repeat of the scoreline would have been most welcome.

Stevenage sprinted out of the blocks in the opening stages with a half chances missed by a lively Danny Newton. Kennedy looked lively down the right flank as Boro dominated the first 15 minutes.

Dale Gorman chested the ball down but fired the ball over the top while Godden troubled Jim Bentley’s defensive backline with angled runs.

Tom Pett was clipped on the edge of the area leading to Joe Martin firing over the wall but keeper but Barry Roche gathered comfortably.

On 23 minutes Luke Conlan drove through the heart of the Stevenage defence before home forward Vadaine Oliver fed the ball to the experienced Kevin Ellison who showed great technique to fire low into the net past King’s left hand to make it 1-0 on 23 minutes.

It was harsh on Sarll’s men who tried to regain parity.

It may have been a raw January day in the North West but temperatures on the pitch rose significantly with a number of full blooded challenges coming in from both sides which necessitated both physio’s entering the pitch a number of times. Jonathan Smith was perhaps unlucky to be booked for a clash of heads with Shrimps captain Michael Rose that saw a black bandage applied to his forehead.

Gorman was also the subject of a tough challenge in the centre of the park which although legal bordered on the edge of propriety.

With seven minutes to go until the break the talented teenage defender Ben Wilmot played a simple but effective ball through to Jonathan Smith on the right flank who whipped the ball into a crowded box. The predatory Godden edged in front of his marker, Old, and made contact to angle the ball past keeper Roche.

Unfortunately for Godden, Boro and their 70 loyal travelling fans in a crowd of 1,268 the ball clipped the wrong side of the post and away.

Stevenage needed to start the second period with an intensity that matched the first but they looked slightly lacklustre.

However they were hampered by time-wasting tactics from Morecambe and a failure to deliver a telling final ball.

That was until Franks, who came on for Joanathan Smith with eight minutes remaining to play as a target man up front fired home a wonder strike to salvage a point and send the 70 Boro fans home happy.

Speaking afterwards Sarll praised his side’s battling qualities but was happy his side grabbed a point asa he felt they didn’t deserve to lose.

It was a fair summation from the Boro boss who also found time to praise record-breaker Henry calling him a true Stevenage legend.

On a cold afternoon in deepest midwinter after an instantly forgettable game breaking the record was something everyone in Boro colours at Morecambe will remember for a long time.

That and Franks goal.

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