No lack of effort and endeavour from Westley’s warriors

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A good away performance at Rotherham gained a resolute Stevenage side a deserved point in the two sides’ first ever meeting. 

With some fearing the result may end up much the same as the Wycombe game, Graham Westley opted to deploy a 4-5-1 formation in order to shore up the midfield and make it harder for the third-placed Millers to break them down.

Chris Holroyd was up front on his own, Peter Winn won a start and Roberts returned to the field after injury. 

There was nothing much by way of action in the opening exchanges but Stevenage had the lion’s share of the possession in midfield with the likes of Stacy Long and Peter Winn particularly involved with play.

Stevenage were ineffective in their attempts to carve out a chance down the wing in the opening 15 minutes, which perhaps their tactics were relying on, and the first chance of the game fell to Rotherham’s Ellison, whose volley from outside the area was dealt with solidly by Day. 

This stirred a response from Boro who quickly seized the initiative to create chances and for large periods had the Millers on the back foot. Twenty minutes in, Holroyd worked his way into the area and unselfishly pulled the ball back to Long, who from ten yards looked odds-on to net his first of the season. 

Unfortunately, his shot could have been better and the keeper had positioned himself well enough to pull off a good save with his legs. Another longer-range attempt from Ronny Henry was palmed away by the Millers’ keeper Andy Warrington low to his right as Stevenage sensed the momentum continuing to shift. Warrington was the key man today as his saves stopped what would have been a comfortable Boro victory. 

With Stevenage committing men forward it was all too inevitable that Rotherham would try to counter-attack. Well into added time in the first half a defended free kick saw a slip from Scott Laird which let Le Fondre slide a ball into the path of Nick Fenton, who made sure Day had no chance by crashing the ball into the top corner. 

Determined to atone for their lapse in concentration, Boro came out again intent on finding the net but had few real chances despite again running the game in midfield, with Mousinho and Bostwick particularly imposing. 

The hour mark saw Wilson replaced by Odubade, whose pace made Rotherham think twice about committing too many forward even on counter attacks. Shortly after, Warrington was called into action again by Winn, whose thundered shot was pushed past the post. 

Boro did get the reward they deserved for a courageous performance when David Bridges, a 75th minute substitute, controlled an excellent deep cross from the left only to have his shot blocked by the defender. With Holroyd calling for it, Bridges decided to cut it back to Mousinho whose first time side-footed effort caught the badly positioned keeper by surprise and rolled in straight down the middle of the goal.

Much to the delight, and pride, of manager Westley who said: “We took the game to Rotherham, the bulk of the play in the first half was ours and I lost count of the number of corners we earned from some excellent attacking play.

"Rotherham had a tough afternoon, but it was a real shock to concede just before half time. It was a real body blow and we stuttered at the start of the second half.

"But the last half hour, we got the ball down, and we were positive, penetrating and causing problems and the equaliser was terrific and I was really disappointed that we didn't get the winner.

"I was really pleased with the attitude the players showed, the positivity and the desire and the fitness levels, because we were really on top of the game in the last 20 minutes." 

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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