A Yemi Odubade goal was emphatically cancelled out by Ashley Westwood’s curling effort as Stevenage endured a second consecutive draw against a tough Crewe side.
Graham Westley made the decision to recall Charlie Griffin to his starting XI after his recovery from concussion, replacing injury victim Chris Beardsley, and Robbie Sinclair was handed a start at Peter Winn’s expense. Stacy Long was handed his first start in the league as Joel Byrom was demoted to the bench.
Calvin Zola looked imposing as Crewe used the route-one tactic in an attempt to exploit both Boro’s defensive ineptitude at dealing with the bouncing ball and Zola’s strength.
In a half of few clear opportunities, Bostwick had a long range drive comfortably saved before a moment of controversy involving the referee denied Boro’s opponents a goal.
Zola was again involved and took a tumble before the impressive Shaun Miller whipped the ball beyond the helpless Chris Day from 20 yards only for it to be disallowed because the referee had already blown for the foul.
The second half saw Crewe come out dominantly as Stevenage gave possession away far too cheaply in midfield and lacked supply to the front line, inviting the Alex to attack in numbers.
The equaliser came just after the interval as Michael Bostwick’s loose pass was pounced on and a neat counter attack saw Ashley Westwood receive the ball in the time and space to rifle a curling right-footed effort past Day and high into the corner, flicking the post as it went in.
Soon after Long, who had previously been booked for a robust but seemingly fair challenge early on in the half, lost possession and lunged to block the ball in an attempt to win it back. The referee went by the book, thrusting a red card in Long’s direction for intent although there was virtually no contact.
The loss of arguably Boro’s best player wiped out any remaining goal threat and Stevenage very rarely threatened from then on. Crewe took the initiative to force Day into several saves from good positions; Zola should have done better from six yards out and 16-year-old Nick Powell, tipped as a prospect for the future, had a 25 yard drive parried convincingly by Stevenage’s keeper.
By the end of the game, most fans would have been happy to come out with the point but again the performance failed to live up to the billing. Stevenage were considered favourites and notes in the programme said fans were to expect an improved performance - although I don’t think it was noticeably different from what we’ve seen so far.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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