League Two's much-anticipated showdown between Leyton Orient and Stevenage couldn't produce a winner or a goal.

The pair had gone into the contest at Brisbane Road first and second in the table and the clash warranted the attention of the TV cameras and a near 24-hour delay from its planned Boxing Day date.

It was as pulsating as expected, it was tough and it was fractious at times. In a way it was the perfect example of football in the fourth tier.

What was lacking though, from both teams, was quality in the crucial areas and that meant a 0-0 draw.

It leaves Orient seven points clear of Boro after 22 games played, although Stevenage moved two points clear of Northampton in third and nine points above fourth-placed Carlisle United.

A break of 17 days since their last league game, as well as problems training due to snow and ice, made selection an unknown quantity for manager Steve Evans.

He went with two changes from their last league game at home to Mansfield Town, bringing in Terence Vancooten and Danny Rose with Dean Campbell and Jamie Reid the duo moving to the bench.

For the first 20 minutes, this was exactly like you would have imagined.

Both teams went about their business at breakneck speed and there were some committed challenges from both sides.

It was Stevenage though who were on the front foot for more of it, Orient sticking to breaks out of defence.

Chances were limited in the period and the first one went the way of the home side, Charlie Kelman cutting in from the left before getting a shot off that clipped the inside of Dan Sweeney's legs.

Taye Ashby-Hammond used his own lower appendages to kick the ball away.

Dan Smyth also scored a marvellous solo goal but after wriggling through a couple of challenges, his effort flashed past the near post.

Boro's only real attempt was a low effort from Jordan Roberts that was straight at Lawrence Vigouroux.

But after that opening stanza, the game headed to half-time, the teams looking like prize-fighters who suddenly realised this was going the distance.

That too was probably what was expected from the combatants but as tiredness started to creep in, so too did the fouls.

Idris El Mizouniu was booked for Orient and Luther James-Wildin for Boro, the latter on the stroke of half-time after a succession of mistimed tackles.

The one that earned him the yellow card was on Orient skipper Darren Pratley who had been involved in a running battle with Sweeney at every corner and attacking free-kick for Boro.

The referee more often than not decided both were pulling and shoving each other.

The two benches were often at each other's throats as well and after the fourth official got sick of them, the man in the middle needed to give them a talking to.

That should the huge desire both camps had to get one over the other, this one definitely mattered.

The half-time break allowed more instructions to be passed on to the players in an attempt to pull them out of the stalemate. Neither manager opted for any changes in personnel though.

The second half was more of the same with perhaps a little bit more grumpiness thrown in.

There were chances above the screaming and shouting every time there was a contact.

For Stevenage, Carl Piergianni headed wide from a free-kick while from another set-piece from Reeves, Roberts stung the hands of Vigouroux.

Pratley had the best chance of all in the opening stages but he blazed over when unmarked in a central position 12 yards out.

He had another chance after Orient had made a double sub. This time his instinctive header from Omar Beckle's knock back across goal went straight at Ashby-Hammond.

But Orient were now in the ascendancy and they head the backing of the home support who raised their voices more and more on every attack.

James-Wildin's flirtation with a red ended when he was hauled off with 10 minutes to go, part of a triple substitution that saw Kane Smith and Jake Taylor enter the fray.

It did spark a slight change in momentum but apart from two wild and speculative lashes by Alex Gilbey, neither of which ever had a hope of finding the net, it looked like a no-score draw was going to be the outcome.

So it proved.


Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, James-Wildin (Smith 80), Reeves, Piergianni, Sweeney, Norris (Reid 80), Campbell, Roberts, Vancooten, Gilbey, Earley, Rose (Taylor 80).

Subs (not used): Chapman, Clark, Campbell, Amoo.

Booked: James-Wildin 45, Rose 50


Leyton Orient: Vigouroux, James, Happe, Smyth (Clay 87), Archibald, Brown (Hunt 87), Moncur (Sotiriou 63), El Mizouni, Pratley, Beckles, Kelman (Drinan 63).

Subs (not used): Sargeant, Ogie, Duke-McKenna.

Booked: El Mizouni 22


HT: Leyton Orient 0 Stevenage 0

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Walton-on-Thames)

Attendance: 3,000+ (1,044 from Stevenage)