Beardsley and Barnard show puts Cheltenham Town to the sword and fires Stevenage into the top half of League Two

Chris Beardsley celebrates his and Stevenage's first goal

Chris Beardsley celebrates his and Stevenage's first goal - Credit: Archant

The temporary strike force of Chris Beardsley and Lee Barnard proved too clinical for a calamitous Cheltenham Town side to handle as a brace apiece and Charlie Lee’s first-half special claimed a terrific 5-1 win for Stevenage in League Two at the Lamex Stadium.

While Beardsley lit up the first half with a poacher’s double, one a tap-in from several yards out and the other, a crisp finish following great wing-work from Lee, Barnard, on loan from Southend United, took the applause for his quick-fire haul in the second.

As instinctively as Beardsley had been, Barnard first touched home after substitute Adam Marriott’s strike had been parried by the Robins’ keeper Trevor Carson and seven minutes later, ended the rout with a sidefoot into an empty net.

On another day, Lee may have been sucking up the plaudits as his ninth-minute 25-yard curler brought the Lamex Stadium to it’s feet but it was the starting frontline that wrote the headlines.

Boro boss Graham Westley made four changes from last Sunday’s gritty goalless FA Cup draw with Ryman League Premier side Maidstone United, with the major surprise being the absence of top scorer Chris Whelpdale from the matchday squad.

His replacement Beardsley soon made sure he was not missed though as he opened the scoring inside five minutes.

Simon Walton’s cross was nodded into his path by Barnard and he tucked with assurance.

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Stevenage had only beaten the visitors once in seven meetings but ironically it was by a four-goal margin back in February 2011 and when Lee’s special doubled the lead, the home side were baying for a similar hammering.

The Robins managed to stem the flow of goals for almost half an hour but when Beardsley was again fed by a knockdown, this time from fellow goal hero Lee, he required no second invitation as he thumped home his second and Boro’s third.

Buoyed by their 3-0 half-time advantage, Westley’s men ramped up the pace once more at the start of the second period and had Lee had a little more luck, he would have notched a second 25-yarder of the afternoon.

As it was, his drive thundered off the crossbar and to safety.

Despite the impressive Beardsley and Roarie Deacon leaving the action for Adam Marriott and Charlie Adams respectively midway through the second half, the home side’s intensity did not drop and good battling from Marriott created Boro’s fourth and Barnard’s first.

The lurking Southend loanee was on hand to force home the rebound after Marriott had been denied.

The visitors did manage a consolation through former Boro man Byron Harrison soon after but Westley’s men still had time to add a fifth with nine minutes to go.

Cheltenham’s shot-stopper had looked a confused figure for the majority of this demolition and when he was caught attempting to stop Marriott scoring from near the touchline, Barnard collected the loose ball, rounded the last line of defence and stroked home the final goal.

What a difference a week makes.

Having hammered Swindon Town 5-0 in the FA Cup last Saturday, they were left to cling on to prevent further Stevenage goals in the final moments as Marriott went close once more.

Westley will have some tough selection decisions to make before Thursday’s FA Cup replay at Maidstone United.

For now it’s top half and the playoffs on the horizon for superb Stevenage.

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