Stevenage 1 - 1 Preston NE
Tuesday 11th March 2014 - 19:45 (League One)
An oh so familiar story for North End as two points were absolutely thrown away at the Lamex Stadium against a distinctly average Stevenage side. North End dominated the game for long periods and were clearly the only team trying to play the football but once again we succumbed to the late sucker punch after not putting the game away. Tom Clarke's goal should have been enough in all honesty, the 91st minute equaliser from Smith was an absolute sickener to the 402 fans who had made the journey to Broadhall Way. I really have lost count of the number of points we have thrown away late on but surely it is in double figures and more by now.
North End started brightly playing 3-4-2-1 and looked comfortable on the ball. It was no surprise when we took the lead after quarter of an hour with Davies heading down for Clarke to fire home. Stevenage were adopting a route one policy and we were getting dragged into that sort of game without ever really looking troubled save a shot from Zoko that Clarke cleared off the line. Garner and Davies had two more efforts before the break but we would rue going in only one up.
Stevenage came out a little more at it at the start of the second period but once again we were holding firm and looking relatively untroubled. The problem was we were not creating a great deal up at the other end, although Garner hit a rasper inches wide of Chris Day's post. Twice in the latter stages we had to clear our lines but I still thought we were safe until in the first minute of an additional five Smith fired in a shot from the angle of the penalty box. It was a savage blow for the travelling faithful and a game that was a draw was feeling very much like a defeat as the point left us six points adrift of the automatic slots.
A painful night then for both players and fans alike but we still have not got that vital mental strength to hold on to a game when we have the lead late on. There is no doubt in my mind that this should have been a regulation away win and the manager must reflect on how he gets that steely mindedness into the boys for the final ten games. Automatic isn't yet out of the question but we are making it damned hard for ourselves letting games like this slip away.