Torquay hit the woodwork three times but Stevenage’s luck held out to make it seven points from seven games in a far from dull encounter.
Graham Westley went into the game without being able to call on Lawrie Wilson through suspension or Chris Beardsley, David Bridges or Darren Murphy who are all long-term injury victims. In came Stacy Long for Wilson, Darius Charles for Sills and John Mousinho for Byrom.
In the opening few minutes, Danny Stephens picked up the ball on the left wing and took on Ronny Henry before clipping a ball over the top to the unmarked Martin Gritton, whose shot from ten yards rose over the bar.
Soon after, another Gritton effort, this time a header from a cross, looped beyond the motionless Day and cannoned off the bar before landing straight in the keeper’s arms.
Stevenage had the ball under their control in the midfield and put together some good passing moves but there was a lack of cohesion at times and attackers usually ended up with the ball at their feet with their backs to goal, making getting shots off and working the ball into the area difficult.
Danny Stephens again caused trouble from the left when he burst into the area and whipped a dipping shot towards the bottom corner. Only a combination of Chris Day’s diving right hand and the post kept the scores even.
At the other end, Ronny Henry’s long run and low shot wide was the best opportunity of note for Boro, although Mark Roberts had a half chance with a header.
In the second period the game came alive quickly and Stevenage immediately had a chance to score on the counter attack; Yemi Odubade’s cross into the area evaded Laird at the first attempt but he still gained possession and cracked a rising shot just wide of the upright.
This was quickly followed by another lucky break for Stevenage as Mark Roberts gave away a free-kick for a cynical foul which was taken low by Kevin Nicholson, who saw the ball rebound yet again off the frame of the goal.
Boro took control of possession in periods but play was mainly end to end, with Stacy Long having two efforts off target and Odubade’s close range snap shot ending up eventually in the keeper’s gloves.
In the dying seconds, a nice counter-attacking move saw the ball delivered from Odubade to top-scorer Charlie Griffin, who took a touch before smashing the ball high over the keeper and goal.
A late corner for Boro after a poor back pass could also have ended up in the net but in a goalmouth scramble the ball went out for a goal kick.
Odubade and Charles both stood out as Stevenage’s key performers and put in more of their fair share of work in their respective areas of the field. Charles was imposing at left back and kept Zebroski quiet and Odubade worked tirelessly to hound the defence off the ball.
An entertaining match drew to a close and although the Gulls had hit the frame of the goal several times the draw was a fairly good representation of the game as a whole.
However, if Torquay had been slightly luckier and found the net it was plain to see that Boro weren’t likely to score a reply.
Perhaps Westley should look to Lee Boylan in coming weeks to provide his quality as a link between attack and midfield to maximise the chances made.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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