REPORT | Stevenage 0 Wanderers 0

Dempsey disappointment Stevenage

Wanderers secured a first clean sheet of the year away from home in League One but couldn’t turn one point into three to stay closer in touch with the automatic promotion places, writes Pete Oliver.

Joel Coleman deservedly secured a shut-out with an assured display but the Whites didn’t do enough at the other end to overcome a stubborn Stevenage side fighting for a play-off place and their own promotion aspirations.

A first-half header from defender Will Forrester that hit the crossbar was ultimately as close as Wanderers came to a first away win in six attempts on a dry pitch and i na swirling wind.

But it could have been worse as Ben Thompson missed the best chance of the game late on for the hosts.

And with four of their next five games at home – starting with the Easter Monday visit of Reading – Ian Evatt’s men must believe they still have the chance to narrow a six-point gap on second-placed Derby County, who have played a game more and don’t return to action until their visit to league leaders Portsmouth next Tuesday night.

Wanderers – still missing a clutch of attacking players through injury – gave a first league start of the season to Cameron Jerome and the striker was close to giving the Whites an early lead as he looked to make the most of the opportunity.


Evatt reaction Stevenage

Chasing a ball over the top from Aaron Collins, Jerome held off defender Dan Butler before lifting the ball over keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond with an effort he then chased down and hooked back across the face of goal from the narrowest of margins.

Nathan Ogbeta then cut in to test Ashby-Hammond, who also had to beat away a free-kick from Josh Sheehan as Wanderers built the pressure.

But the nearest the Whites came to an opening goal before the break was the header from Forrester – who also earned a start in place of the injured Gethin Jones – which thumped against the bar following a corner.

Not that it was all Wanderers in a competitive first half which saw Stevenage have their moments in pursuit of a first win in six games to try and get back into the play-off places.

Coleman made one excellent save to keep a low drive from Butler out of the bottom corner, while it took also took an important block from Eoin Toal to deny his Northern Ireland team-mate Jamie Reid another possible goal to add to the one he scored on his international debut.

Toal and Reid were then involved in a key moment of the second half as the pair tangled following a mis-hit back-pass from the Wanderers’ defender.

Toal escaped punishment and the Whites enjoyed another let-off when a slip from captain Ricardo Almeida Santos gave Thompson a shooting chance he should have taken six minutes from the end.

In truth, Wanderers didn’t look like getting a late winner of their own, although they had enough pressure and opportunities around the Stevenage penalty area early in the second half to get themselves in front.

Ogbeta was a regular threat down the left-hand side and Wanderers felt they should have had a penalty when George Thomason’s cross into the box appeared to be blocked by an arm.

Josh Sheehan and the lively Aaron Collins both had efforts from outside the penalty area but the breakthrough wouldn’t come.

And substitute Kyle Dempsey was denied a landmark goal on his 100th Wanderers’ appearance after he came off the bench and steered a shot just wide as the Whites were left with more ground to make up over the run-in.

Wanderers: Coleman; Forrester, Almeida Santos, Toal; Sheehan (Morley 78); Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma, Thomason (Dempsey 68), Ogbeta (Iredale 87); Jerome (Bodvarsson 67), Collins. Substitutes: Hutchinson, Iredale, Ramsay, Ashworth.

Booked: Sheehan, Maghoma

Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond; James-Wildin, Butler, MacDonald, Roberts (Hemmings 93), Smith, Vancooten, Burns, Reid (L Thompson, 91), Guiness-Walker, B Thompson. Substitutes: MacGillivray, N Thompson, Freeman, White, Oliver.

Booked: None

Referee: Sam Allison

Attendance:  6,282 (1,384)

Read Time: 4 mins