As a yellow card came out for a bizarre incident, Harvey White booked for what looked like time wasting despite waiting for Oxford United to make a double substitution, Alex Revell held his arms out wide.

It reminded you of someone, a figure no longer associated with the club, but the gesture didn't quite have the same snap, the same angry energy.

It was a sure sign though that the times they have a-changed at Stevenage. however, the end of a seismic week in their history brought the Hertfordshire a battling 1-1 draw.

Boro were without Steve Evans for the first time since his shock departure, heading to Rotherham United on Wednesday.

And they will take plenty of positives out of this, even though their season is petering out and not ending the way they envisioned.

The first of Revell's two team selections at the end of this season saw five changes from the defeat to Burton Albion.

Dan Butler is suspended but also coming out were Nathan Thompson, Elliott List, Finley Burns and Aaron Pressley.

Nick Freeman, Jordan Roberts, Harvey White, Nesta Guinness-Walker and Kane Hemmings were the men who stepped in.

Youngster Makise Evans joined fellow academy team-mate Rylee Mitchell on the bench.

One of the big questions was how the Stevenage players would react to the upheaval in the week. Would they come out fighting or simply roll over?

Well the opening 30 minutes was kind of neither one nor the other.

They started by getting into a few good positions but passes were never played with any confidence or any accuracy.

They then had to withstand plenty of Oxford pressure although Craig MacGillivray only had to make one save of note, getting low to smother a Josh Murphy shot.

Sam Long headed wide from a corner and there were other shots off target, often caused by Stevenage giving the ball away.

Revell was prowling the technical area at this point, shouting plenty, slumping his shoulders and rolling his eyes on other occasions.

It was noticeable, in comparison to the rest of  this season, he was often alone, something that you never saw when Paul Raynor was still in town.

But for all the Oxford pressure in the half, they didn't score, well not at the right end anyway.

The only goal of the half came on 32 minutes after superb work on the left touchline by Roberts allowed Freeman to head towards goal unmarked.

His low cross was aimed for Hemmings but Long dived to block the cross. His header though flew up and in off the crossbar, completely bamboozling former Boro keeper Jamie Cumming.

There were late changes for Oxford in the half but MacGillivray made a superb stop low down, seeing it late but getting a hand on it to push it behind.

The corner was then fired behind first time by Marcus Browne.

Oxford had claimed for a penalty late in the half when MacGillivray came out to block at the feet of Browne and there was another loud shout early in the second for handball.

Again, that was more in hope than anything else, but seconds later Tyler Goodrhm's shot was blocked by the chest of the Boro keeper.

Oxford's urgency was very apparent and Ruben Rodrigues should have done better when laid in by Mark Harris.

The Oxford man would then be front and centre of them getting an equaliser, and it came after their shouts for a penalty were finally answered.

He got goal side of Carl Piergianni and went to ground as he entered the box, feeling the slightest of touches from the Boro skipper.

A short delay didn't matter and the Oxford captain, Cameron Brannagan, sent MacGillivray the wrong way.

Stevenage did get into some good positions but didn't pick the right pass or deliver it as needed.

MacGillivray continued his excellent evening by making a super stop with his legs to stop  Murphy counter-attack. Guinness-Walker did the same a few minutes later.

That was after Hemmings had squeezed the ball beyond the keeper only for it to be cleared by Long. Ben Thompson's follow-up bounced off bodies and went wide.

And as the clock moved to its conclusion, the frustrations grew around the Kassam.

One late header went wide and Stevenage will now have the weekend to reflect on a job well done. 

Match details

Stevenage: MacGillivray, Piergianni, Freeman (List 80), Roberts (Sweeney 90+2), Smith, Vancooten, White (N.Thompson 90+2), Reid (B.Thompson 60), Guinness-Walker, L.Thompson, Hemmings.

Sub (not used): Mitchell, Pressley, Evans.

Goals: Long (og) 32

Booked: Vancooten 10, White 72, Smith 88


Oxford United: Cumming, Long, Brown, Brannagan, Harris, Browne (Dale 64), Stevens, Goodrham (Bodin 72), Rodrigues (Henry 72), Leigh, Murphy.

Subs (not used): Eastwood, Thorniley, Bennett, Smyth.

Goals: Brannagan (pen) 59



HT: Oxford United 0 Stevenage 1

Added time: 6

Referee: Tom Nield (Barnsley)

Attendance: 9,174 (including 367 from Stevenage)