Stevenage Borough Community v Reserves, 31 Oct 2020 (League)
Buntingford Drew 2-2
On Halloween Bunt Town Reserves took to the road for the 5th week in a row, this time coming up against a SBC team who sat 2nd in the league, winning 5 of their opening 6 games.
In hoooowling conditions, Town welcomed Sid Arnold, Alex Hewer and Liam Faik to the starting line up, as well as Chas Bailey and Lloyd Bowman to the squad.
Town were hoping to continue their recent good run of form but the game got off to a scrappy start, SBC knocking several long passes which ran through to Ewan and Town struggling to settle down and play any kind of disciplined football.
Neither side had fashioned any real clear cut openings apart from the home GK flapping at a deep free kick which almost fell kindly and a wayward direct free kick from Sid the game just ebbed back and forth with neither team showing enough quality to break down the opposition.
On 25 mins however, a bit of skill on the right from the home team and a shot from 15 yards was palmed out by Ewan and was well followed up by an opponent despite being surrounded by defenders; 1-0 to SBC.
The game continued in the same vein, Town looking organised but struggling to create anything meaningful going forward, despite the hard work of Tommy, George and Liam in the front line.
On 35 mins though Town drew level when SBC conceded a free kick 25 yards out and Sid stepped forward to curl the ball into the roof of the net, the home GK flailing wildly at the ball - he will have nightmares about that one!
There was still time for a horror tackle on Sid to go unpunished and he had to be withdrawn before the half time whistle blew.
With the first 45 down Town reflected on a game in which they knew they could get more from and so they changed to a more offensive line up with Jacob Willis, Chas Bailey and Luke Sloan replacing Parkins, Sid and Ayo.
The changes seemed to work a trick or treat as within a minute of the restart, pressure by Willis resulted in Chas first winning a tackle on the edge of the box and then slotting the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper.
Great character from the team to come from behind, but now they had to weather the storm.
The next 30-35 mins saw Town sitting deeper and deeper with SBC dominating possession and doing their best to find a way past a defiant defence marshalled superbly by Ryan Bailey who stood resolute throughout.
Tommy, Chas and Jacob worked hard up front and tried their best to create chances but Jacob became more isolated as Town struggled to keep possession for more than a pass.
Town lost Liam Faik on the hour to a rolled ankle and Kaps Patel came on as he continued his return to full fitness.
With 20 minutes left a break down the left saw a mistimed tackle give the winger time to cut in and hit a fizzing shot at Ewan, who appeared to be caught between palming the shot over the bar and taking the sting out of it; unfortunately the ball looped in the air and dropped inside the far post to bring SBC level.
An edgy 10 mins for Town ensued with some scatty clearances and a few scary moments around the box and SBC went for the win.
Lloyd replaced Will who had put in another excellent shift and Ayo came back on for George who had worked his socks off to contain a very decent number 10.
Actually in the final 10 mins Town came back into it and forced a number of free kicks and corners which on one occasion almost saw the ball fall for Kaps and Ayo but neither got the opportunity to find a finish.
In fact there was a massive shout for a penalty in the final 5 mins when a large and cumbersome defender enveloped Jacob from behind and he was bundled to the floor, the referee was unmoved however and the game ended with Town defending and the SBC coach venting his frustration at the referee that his team hadn’t had the rub of the green.
A 4th game unbeaten for the reserves, scoring 12 goals in the process.
A draw away to the 2nd place team now feels more like the norm as the expectations of the team continue to grow.