If Stevenage are to mount a successful challenge for promotion this season, then winning away at Shrewsbury Town had to be one of those non-negotiable moments.

They managed that but the 1-0 win, courtesy of Jamie Reid's 84th minute goal, was anything but pretty.

Manager Steve Evans had said in his pre-match chat that a reset button had been pressed following the shock FA Cup defeat to Maidstone United last time out.

From now until the end of the season, the focus was on securing promotion and that they had the tools and ambition to do so.

He will gladly accept the three points but they have to play better than this though if that future is to come true.

The boss made four changes from the XI that started the FA Cup defeat at Maidstone United.

Dan Butler returned to the left back position while Aaron Pressley, Finley Burns and Ben Thompson came in.

Dan Sweeney, Jordan Roberts, Louis Thompson and Kane Hemmings were the four to miss out, all four taking their place on the bench.

Not alongside them though were Harvey White and Harry Anderson, the two to drop out of the match day squad.

The first half was as frigid as the weather, with the action putting most watching on into a state of hibernation.

Reid sliced wide from a tight angle inside 30 seconds but there was precious little to warm the hands, the throat or the heart.

In fact the biggest and most fun part of the half was watching the heavyweight battle between the skippers.

Chey Dunkley and Carl Piergianni are two centre-halves carved from granite but seeing the Boro man out-performed in the air was akin to watching Superman kneel before General Zod.

Boro did have one late opportunity in the half but Nick Freeman scuffed wide from about 12 yards.

There was any attempts at the other end either, one Dunkley header drifting wide of the target all the Shrews could muster.

Stevenage's performance was one of concern though and not one that made you feel the midweek rallying call for Boro to charge to promotion had been understood by the players.

First-team coach Alex Revell and Pressley had a bit of a disagreement towards the end of the half over what the forward was or was not doing.

He was the one singled out though, it could have been any one of the men in red and white.

That meant it was a wee bit surprising to see the same XI reappear for Boro after the interval.

There was no obvious tactical changes from the visitors either with the most likely half-time chat being a reinforcement of what people should be doing.

But the hoped-for second half charge did not come.

Jamie Reid got into one good position down the right, getting in behind Jason Sraha, but instead of pulling the trigger or squaring it, he went down softly and the chance was gone.

There was also a header by Pressley that lacked any sort of power and bounced through to Marko Marosi.

As with the first half, too often did Shrewsbury win the first header and then sweep up the second ball.

Their problems in front of goal remained, just 17 league goals all season, but the home fans quickly went from ironic "we've had a shot" chants to genuine belief they could claim all three points.

Max Mata had a shot blocked and then shot straight at Taye Ashby-Hammond while Tom Bayliss sliced horribly wide from the edge of the area.

It did seem likely that the game would end as it had started, goal-less, but from out of nothing, Reid got ahead of his marker to the right of the penalty spot and poked it past the out-rushing keeper.

Whether it was deserved was one for the trip home and the coming days. It possibly wasn't.

But there could come a time later in the season when this win will be lauded as a pivotal moment.

Match details

Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, James-Wildin, Butler, Piergianni, Forster-Caskey, Freeman, Vancooten, Burns (Roberts 77), Reid, Pressley (Hemmings 68), B.Thompson (L.Thompson 77).

Sub (not used): Mitchell, Sweeney, MacDonald, List.

Goals: Reid 84

Booked: Vancooten 55, Forster-Caskey 90+1


Shrewsbury Town: Marosi, Benning, Feeney, Sraha, Winchester, Bowman (Bayliss 61), Sobowale (Idowu 61)), Pierre, Dunkley, Shipley (Mata 61), Kenneh.

Subs (not used): Burgoyne, Anderson, Bennett, Loughran.

Booked: Kenneh 69


HT: Shrewsbury Town 0 Stevenage 0

Added time: 7

Referee: Thomas Kirk (Wilmslow, Cheshire)

Attendance: 5,259  (including 245 from Stevenage)