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01:02 2nd April 2014

A Hard Fought Battle

Stevenage 0

Wolves 0

It finished honours even in the bottom v top clash at Stevenage and whilst Wolves edged a little closer to automatic promotion, nobody could deny the home side a point, from a hard fought battle, that bolstered their survival hopes.

Liam McAlinden was rewarded with a start following his match winner at MK Dons and Leon Clarke also returned to the starting line-up with Jack Price and Nouha Dicko dropping down to the bench.

Wolves kicked-off defending the end of the Lamex Stadium that was packed with almost 2,000 off their supporters.

After just 23 seconds, McAlinden got in a shot that was deflected behind for a corner. James Henry’s flag-kick was headed clear by home skipper Jon Ashton.

Wolves were on top in the early stages before Stevenage’s first goal attempt – an angled shot from Luke Freeman who had taken a return pass from Francois Zoko.

After just 12 minutes Wanderers lost the services of Henry who had taken a knock and was replaced by Dicko.

Kevin McDonald’s through ball was just too heavy for Clarke to reach before it ran out of play, and at the other end a Jimmy Smith corner was cleared after Danny Batth had turned the ball behind under pressure from Zoko.

A McAlinden ball to the edge of the home area was nodded down by Dicko to Clarke who was challenged as he shot with his effort lacking the power to beat Chris Day in the home goal even though he was forced into a diving save.

A good run from Michael Jacobs ended with a cross that was cleared from the edge of the six-yard box by a Boro defender before Dicko turned his marker and delivered a cross-shot that was palmed away by Day. The ball went to Clarke at the far post but he had no time to react and his header was wide.

Six minutes before the break a shot from Lucas Akins bounced behind off Batth. From Smith’s corner the ball brushed the head of McDonald and was going in until Ikeme threw himself sideways to save the day at the expense of another corner.

As the half drew to a close McAlinden for Wolves and Akin for Boro were both off target with long distance efforts.

Half-Time: Boro 0 Wolves 0

Two minutes after the resumption Freeman wasn’t far away with a 20-yard drive whilst Sam Ricketts saw his shot blocked when he ventured upfield and tried his luck.

In the 54th minute McDonald ran through and tried a shot that was deflected to Dave Edwards but he was dispossessed as he tried to find the space to get in a shot.

Jacobs sent in a dangerous cross that went through to the far side to the relief of the home defence, and then a Dicko shot was blocked as Wolves enjoyed a concentrated spell of attacking.

But Boro threatened on the hour mark with Ikeme making a great stop to thwart Smith who had been played in by Zoko.

Wolves responded seconds later with a driven cross-shot from Dicko that Day saved with his feet before  McDonald was yellow carded for what looked a tame challenge on Bira Dembele.

Good work by McAlinden gave Scott Golbourne the chance to get in a cross that Day managed to cut out as Clarke moved in for the kill.

Then, in the 71st minute, Jacobs played Clarke in but Day saved well as he beat the ball away.

Stevenage almost took the lead when Zoko lobbed the ball into the path of Smith who blasted the ball over the angle from close in.

Lee Evans replaced McAlinden, who had played well throughout, for the final 20 minutes of the game.

Jacobs, whose runs were a constant threat to the Boro defence, cut in from the left and hit a low shot that Day managed to claim at the second attempt.

Day then made a tremendous save from Evans after McDonald had laid the ball into the Welsh midfielder’s path.

In the dying minutes Jacobs, twice and McDonald had shots blocked in the Boro box, and Evans volleyed over after Ricketts had pumped a free-kick into the box.

Stevenage: Day, Dembele, Ashton (capt), Mousinho, Charles, Akins (N’Guessan 80), Zoko, Heslop (Morais 72), Freeman, Smith. Obeng.

Unused subs: Goodliffe, Wedgbury, Reid, Flanaghan, Henderson.

Wolves: Ikeme, Ricketts, Golborne, McDonald, Batth, Stearman, Henry (Dicko 12), Edwards, Clarke, McAlinden (Evans 72), Jacobs.

Unused subs: McCarey, Elokobi, Price, Ebanks-Landelll, Bancessi.

Booking: McDonald (62 – foul).

Referee: D. Whitestone.

Attendance: 4,664.


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.