Beardsley shows he’s a cut above the Glassboys

Stourbridge 0 Stevenage 3

Stourbridge 0 Stevenage 3

FA Cup Second Round

Stevenage will have to overcome Reading if they are to progress to the fourth round of this year’s FA Cup after they beat Stourbridge on Saturday afternoon.

The Royals, away, may not have been the stellar draw Boro fans had been hoping for, coming as it does a year on from that wonderful third round night at the Lamex Stadium when Stevenage dumped Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United out of the competition.

But the chance of revenge against the team which eventually put an end to Stevenage’s cup run last year – Reading won the fourth round tie at the Lamex 2-1 back in January – is incentive enough ahead of this year’s clash at the Madejski Stadium.

Boro’s win on Saturday never looked in doubt.

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The deployment of Ben May and Chris Beardsley up front – the former putting in a good, workmanlike shift and the latter grabbing two goals – was necessary for Boro who looked to avoid the bumpy playing surface by pumping many a long ball in the direction of the front pair who held the ball up well.

Stourbridge play at a cricket ground which doubles as a football pitch, with the pavilion acting as a press room for the nation’s media, and for Saturday’s game two temporary stands were erected to boost the capacity to over 3,300.

What the cricket enthusiasts in the town may have made of their outfield being churned up by the stands and metal fencing is anyone’s guess, but the location and the enthusiasm of the home club turned what was a rather dreary game into a rather jovial occasion.

With very few car parking spaces at the ground, Stourbridge players had to park in a nearby church but that is all the help the man upstairs gave to the Glassboys on this big occasion for the club as they were easily despatched by a professional Stevenage display.

The first half saw plenty of running and long balls punted upfield by both sides with Stevenage finding May and Beardsley and Stourbridge locating striker Ryan Rowe on occasion, but the half ended goalless.

May had made a turn and shot at goal after plucking a deep Lawrie Wilson cross out of the air before his shot was cleared off the line by Nathan Bennett while Luke Freeman, having been granted permission by Arsenal to start, forced a very good save out of the impressive Lewis Solly towards the end of the half.

That was the entirety of the first half action, although Boro did lose Ronnie Henry to a leg injury on 40 minutes.

Beardsley saw a ‘goal’ disallowed in the second half after the striker had used his arm to control Scott Laird’s lobbed pass over the Stourbridge defence before Drew Canavan hit a free-kick into the side of Chris Day’s net, forcing a prematurely celebratory crowd back into their seats on the realisation the ball had not gone in.

Lewis Solly had been in decent form for most of the afternoon, but when Michael Bostwick tested the goalkeeper from distance on 65 minutes the Stourbridge goalkeeper spilled the ball into the path of Beardsley who tapped home the opener.

From then on it was all Stevenage as their superior fitness told in the final 25 minutes.

Byron Harrison came on for May, and the striker made a run down the right and into the Stourbridge area on 75 minutes before pulling the ball back for Beardsley to score his second of the afternoon.

Solly then pulled off another save from Beardsley with the striker looking for his hat-trick, before the striker did beat the goalkeeper two minutes from time only for his effort to be cleared off the line by Paul McCone.

Robin Shroot scored a third for Stevenage after Solly’s block from Harrison rolled into the substitute’s path, and the 3-0 scoreline in no way flattered a Stevenage side who had dispensed with their genial hosts in a professional manner.

Stourbridge (4-5-1): Solly, Rock (Craddock 75), Lloyd, McCone, Canavan (Dovey 59), Bennett, Smith, Broadhurst, Billingham, Evans (Drake 65), Rowe. Subs: Dyson, Bateman, Griffiths, Ward.

Stevenage (4-4-2): Day, Henry (Byrom 40), Laird, Roberts, Ashton, Wilson (Shroot 60), Freeman, Bostwick, Edwards, Beardsley, May (Harrison 75). Subs: Julian, Long, Cowan, Charles.

Att: 3,067.

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