Awesome Boro hit Cambridge for four
Stevenage Borough 4 Cambridge United 1 BORO began the New Year by going top of the Blue Square Premier with a thumping performance against Cambridge United on Friday. It was men against boys as Boro dominated proceedings with a confident attacking displa
Stevenage Borough 4 Cambridge United 1
BORO began the New Year by going top of the Blue Square Premier with a thumping performance against Cambridge United on Friday.
It was men against boys as Boro dominated proceedings with a confident attacking display to do the double over their local rivals following their 3-1 victory in Cambridge on Boxing Day.
Lee Boylan (two), Chris Beardsley and Yemi Odubade all got on the score sheet but the man-of-the-match was Stacy Long who was immense on the left side of a three-man midfield alongside Darren Murphy and David Bridges as Boro controlled the middle of the park and harried their opponents all afternoon.
Despite the final score, the game took 20 minutes to get going as the opening exchanges yielded too many incomplete passes and no shots at goal but there was still an obvious gulf between the two sides as Martin Ling's side looked a shell of the side that got past Boro in the Blue Square Premier play-offs last season.
It was only a matter of time before the hosts began to test Danny Potter in the Us' goal and with their first real opportunity Graham Westley's men went ahead when Odubade headed home from a yard on 25 minutes.
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Boro had broken from their own half through Beardsley who curled a forward pass along the ground to Boylan on the right as the striker was entering the box.
Boylan's shot was blocked by the advancing Potter and Long, who was following up, managed to chip the ball over both players for Odubade to head home.
From that moment on Boro looked good for the win and even when the Us hit back with a goal of their own later in the half it was obvious that there was only one likely outcome.
Five minutes after they went ahead Boro had further opportunities but Long saw his shot blocked by Brian Saah, who would later be sent off for two yellow card offences, and Boylan, following up, hit a 20-yard shot from the corner of the area over the bar.
Michael Bostwick also went close on 34 minutes when he headed an Odubade corner just wide with Beardsley just inches short of diverting it goalwards.
With Boro controlling the play it came as a surprise when they conceded seven minutes before half time but the skill of the visitors' goal lay not in the flicked header by Danny Crow but by the superb free kick from 25 yards from an otherwise ordinary Courtney Pit.
Without Crow's touch Pitt would no doubt have been claiming the goal for himself, but as it was he missed out getting his name in lights before going on to put in such a poor performance that every time he received the ball there were a small chorus of cheers for the Boro fans.
Many of Boro's own set plays in the first half were poor in comparison, but on 45 minutes Long's neat dead ball found Bostwick at the back post only for the former Ebbsfleet man to head just inches over the bar.
It was the closest Boro had come to regaining the lead, but they didn't have to wait much longer as a minute late Boylan found himself alone in the Us' box and receiving a pass from Odubade on the left passed the ball home into the bottom corner.
To concede just before the break must have hurt Cambridge but to their credit they did go close again themselves a minute later, however Robbie Willmott's volley from inside the Boro box went wide of goal.
The 2-1 lead was the least Boro deserved from a strong finish to the half, and they killed the game off five minutes after the break with Odubade again the provider.
This time it was Beardsley who finished off a flowing move as the striker scored with a diving header after Odubade had headed a Boylan cross back across goal.
The goal was the beginning of one of the most one-sided 45 minutes of football the Lamex Stadium faithful will see all season.
Within 10 minutes of the game resuming Boro had already had five good efforts on goal, and they kept coming as the movement from Boro's three strikers was too much for their markers to handle.
Boylan it was who made it four with a deft finish after he had skipped past a defender 10 yards out following an intelligent through ball from Long. Boylan's pass into the bottom right corner after Potter had dived left epitomized the confidence that was flowing through the veins of the Boro 11.
Beardsley had two headers just over while Andy Parkinson, on for Willmott, had Cambridge's best effort on 67 minutes only to shoot over, but it was Boro's Long who stole the show.
The midfielder has yet to make a permanent first team slot his own this season, but there was plenty on show against Cambridge to suggest he's not far off.
After seeing Scott Laird give away the ball in the first half Long gave his teammate such a dressing down that nobody would have blamed the left back if he had left the pitch and gone for a lie down in a darkened room, but it was his attacking abilities which really impressed.
He created plenty and had a number of opportunities to get a goal himself but was unable to get the ball past Potter, and it was he who, after outpacing Saah, was brought down by the Us' centre back leading to his dismissal on 87 minutes.
With Oxford United's game at Rushden & Diamonds being called off due to the weather Boro went top with this win and it would appear that only a madman would bet against them pushing Oxford all the way this season.
Boro (4-3-3): Day 7, Henry 7, Laird 7, Ashton 8, Bostwick 7, Murphy 7, Bridges 7, Long 8, Beardsley 8, Boylan 8, Odubade 8.
Cambridge United (4-4-2): Potter 5, Tomkin 6, McAuley 5, Coulson 6, Saah 4, Willmott 5, Reason 6, Ives 6, Pitt 3, Holroyd 5, Crow 7.
Referee: S Burt