Stacy Long dropped to the bench to allow top scorer Chris Holroyd to return after his cup game omission and Joel Byrom won a place on the bench after recovering from fracturing his eye socket several months ago.
Seven minutes in, Stevenage won a free kick 20 yards out which was laid off for Michael Bostwick to shoot. The Shrews’ keeper did well to block the ball but failed to hold it and the predatory Holroyd nipped in to turn the ball into the net. It was a perfect start and one Stevenage wanted to build on while Shrewsbury remained under-par.
Poor passing and static defending gave Lawrie Wilson a chance to run clean through when he intercepted the ball but he lacked the composure needed in front of goal and scuffed his shot, sending it trickling narrowly wide of Chris Neal’s right hand post. Another free-kick from Bostwick almost produced the same outcome as before when Neal again failed to hold the ball but this time he clutched it at the second attempt as Holroyd looked on with a wry smile.
The on-loan striker fashioned another chance when he picked up the ball in an innocuous position and proceeded to work his way into the area before squaring for Jon Mousinho who, from ten yards out, was hassled and couldn’t get a shot off. A corner led to another Boro opportunity as the ball fell to Bostwick a few yards out. The less said about his rising half volley the better.
The second half started with a double substitution for the Shrews and it was replacement Matt Harrold who would score the equaliser ten minutes after the re-start. A foul in midfield led to Shrewsbury taking a playing a quick free kick down the left wing. Fans protested as the ball had been rolling when struck and was not in taken from where the foul was committed, which the referee had been particularly insistent on in similar situations before the incident. The ball was crossed in to Matt Harrold, who smashed it in from a position that home fans claimed was offside.
With the sting of injustice spurring them on, Boro attacked in numbers and a minute later almost retook the lead when Holroyd saw his first time effort from a corner dip just over the bar.Ben May’s shot almost embarrassed the keeper who was grateful to feel the ball bounce off his face after it slipped through his hands.
A double substitution saw the introduction of impact player Yemi Odubade and Charlie Griffin as Boro went all out to gain full points. Odubade’s snap-shot had Neal diving desperately across his goal only to see it go wide but the best chance of the second half fell to Jon Mousinho, who had time to control a headed ball from Bostwick at the back post before setting himself for a volley and missing the ball entirely.
More frustration for Boro’s ambitious players and management, who in the program notes outlined intentions to be in a play-off spot by Christmas. The fact that chances have to be taken was also a theme and seems to be a lesson that Boro are having to learn the hard way.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.