Liam Osborne, Sports reporter
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Grant Basey’s injury-time penalty snatches a draw for Wycombe
Wycombe Wanderers 1
npower League 1
STEVENAGE’S play-off hopes took a major dent after Grant Basey’s injury-time penalty condemned Boro to another draw.
Michael Bostwick’s sublime 85th-minute opener looked to have won it for Gary Smith’s side, but when captain Mark Roberts brought down Craig Eastmond in the box in the fourth minute of added-on time, the referee had little option but to point to the spot. And to compound matters, play-off rivals Carlisle United snatched a last-gasp winner in their home match with Huddersfield – leaving Boro five points adrift of sixth place.
This was a much better performance from Stevenage compared with recent matches, but their inability to close the game out means they really do have a mountain to climb if they are to overtake the in-form Cumbrians.
Boro started the match brightly and were unfortunate not to take the lead on 15 minutes when Scott Laird’s downward header from Joel Byrom’s corner was well saved on the line by goalkeeper Nikki Bull.
Boro looked far more comfortable on the ball and were able to maintain longer spells of possession than in recent weeks. And from a good period of play came Boro’s best chance of the first half to break the deadlock. Darius Charles did well to get to the byline and when his cut-back found the unmarked Lawrie Wilson eight yards in front of the gaping net it looked certain he would score. However, the winger, who was playing a central role behind the striker, somehow managed to fluff his effort so badly the ball didn’t even go behind for a goal-kick.
Keen to make up for his miss, Wilson then decided to try his luck from distance but his 25-yard effort flew narrowly over Bull’s crossbar.
Boro started the second half with an improved tempo and they came close to taking the lead on two occasions within two minutes of the restart. Firstly, Luke Freeman’s sweet left-footed strike from range was acrobatically tipped over by Bull, before the keeper did well again to keep hold of Bostwick’s 25-yard effort.
The game continued to ebb and flow, and Wycombe’s Stuart Beavon twice came close to giving the visitors the lead only for Chris Day to block his first effort before firing his next attempt just over.
As the match entered the final stages it looked as though Boro supporters would have to settle for yet another draw. But with five minutes left on the clock Bostwick stepped up to score his third goal in three games with another of his trademark finishes. The midfielder jinked past two attempted tackles on the edge of the box before curling a superb effort into the far corner.
All of a sudden things were looking rosy again. Three points had all been but assured, while Carlisle looked to be heading for a draw in their match.
However as the match entered stoppage time, Boro’s fortunes changed in an instant. Scott Laird had a throw-in deep in his own half, but for some reason he found Eastmond instead of a white shirt. The former Arsenal man then drove into the penalty area and was inexplicably brought down by Roberts. Penalty.
Left-back Basey duly stepped up to beat Day from 12 yards to send the Wycombe supporters behind the goal into raptures. It was a moment of madness from Roberts, and one you wouldn’t normally expect of the Boro skipper. But it was a moment that could prove fateful as the play-off dream slipped further away.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day; Henry, Ashton, Roberts, Laird; Wilson, Bostwick, Byrom, Freeman (Reid 72); Myrie-Williams, Charles (Agyemang 43).
Subs not used: Julian, Long, Reid, Lascelles.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Bull; McCoy, Doherty, Stewart, Basey; Hackett (Ainsworth 88), Eastomond, Lewis (McClure 88), Bloomfield; Strevens, Beavon.
Subs not used: Laing, Dunne, McNamee.
Att: 3,593 (738)