Tranmere Rovers F.C
Stevenage continue better form but draw with Tranmere Rovers is best they can manage
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
Stevenage extended their better run of results with a 0-0 draw at home to Tranmere Rovers - although it wasn't as impressive a performance as in previous games.
They now have lost just once in the last eight League Two outings but for good periods of this encounter, they were second best.
That said there wasn't too many clear-cut chances from the away side and a strong end to the game from the hosts almost brought a smash and grab victory.
The result keeps Boro just outside the relegation places with the two below them, Grimsby Town and Southend United also drawing 0-0.
A change in formation had seen Boro switch to 4-4-2 and away from the set-up that had seen them put together a better run of results.
And for the opening quarter of the game it seemed to be an error of judgement.
Tranmere were by far the better of the two and should have been ahead inside two minutes when a free-kick from 35 yards or so was dropped into the box.
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Manny Monthe was the intended recipient but although being unmarked six yards out, he failed to get any contact on it. His own reaction suggested he should have.
Paul Lewis was guilty of the same thing on nine minutes. He was a bit further out and the ball did glance of his head but he really should have tested Jamie Cumming in the Boro goal.
Crosses seemed to be the way forward for Rovers and a third headed opportunity fell again to Lewis after two more excellent deliveries.
He was unsighted this time and although he did divert it towards goal, Cumming gathered easily.
The closest either side came was from a deflected cross from Morgan Ferrier.
The former Hemel Hempstead Town and Boreham Wood man had looked lively throughout but his endeavour on 29 minutes needed a deflection to send it towards goal. The post along with a little bit of Cumming's hands kept it out.
Boro did have some chances of their own, all falling to Luke Norris.
A firm effort from outside the box was partially blocked, Scott Davies scrambling to prevent the corner, and another was sliced wide.
The best one was also a header, but he couldn't get any power on it.
One big difference between the two teams, other than the quality of the crosses, was the pressing of the opposition defence. Tranmere's was excellent, almost forcing a mistake when Scott Cuthbert's pass caught Luther James-Wildin out.
Stevenage in contrast had prompted assistant manager Dean Wilkins to scream he wanted it quicker because it was "too slow".
It may have led to the change at half-time with Elliot List, given little change from Monthe, was replaced by Matty Stevens, making his Boro debut.
The physical presence of the new strike-force had an instant impact and pushed Boro forward for their best spell.
They had their best chance too in this period but even though Charlie Carter's low cross to the edge of the box found Tyrone Marsh, the forward's first-time side-footed effort sailed harmlessly over the bar.
And play soon returned to the other end with Tranmere having a couple of chances again.
James Vaughan fired a good shot from a tight angle and it needed to Cumming to kick it away. The rebound hit a Stevenage body but the cries for handball went unanswered.
The Boro keeper made another save shortly after from yet another header. This one was from Ollie Banks and the on-loan Chelsea man did gather it but not as comfortable as he would have liked.
The visitors may have been on top again but Stevenage almost hit them with a sucker-punch. Stevens got the ball on the left side of the box and drilled a low effort across the face of goal and beyond the dive of Davies.
Unfortunately it also beat the far post and the sliding Norris who must have been inches away from connecting.
A triple substitution, bringing on Danny Newton, Jack Smith and Jack Aitchison, seemed to be Alex Revell's last throw of the dice and the energy of the trio did threaten to make a difference.
There was certainly a strong finish from the hosts but bar a penalty shout when Aitchison went down, and a couple of scrambled clearances from the Merseyside side, it ended with a point each.
Boro will take that.
Stevenage: Cumming, James-Wildin, Coker, Cuthbert, Carter, Marsh (Aitchison 77), Vancooten, List (Stevens 46), Read (Smith 77), Norris (Newton 77), Lines.
Subs (not used): Johnson, Prosser, Pett.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Monthe, Spearing, Vaughan, Ferrier (Blackett-Taylor 78), Woolery (Feeney 55), Khan, Macdonald, Lewis, Clarke, Banks (Lloyd 69).
Subs(not used): Murphy, Morris, Ray, Hyde.
Booked: Spearing 65, Vaughan 90+1
HT: Stevenage 0 Tranmere Rovers 0
Referee: Lee Swabey (Plymouth)