Boro are on their way to Wembley
Ebbsfleet United 0 Stevenage Boro 1 Boro win 4-2 on aggregate Stevenage Boro are on their way to Wembley. Substitute Peter Vincenti was the hero as he netted an injury time winner to book Boro s place in the final. A superb rearguard action saw them t
Ebbsfleet United 0 Stevenage Boro 1
Boro win 4-2 on aggregate
Stevenage Boro are on their way to Wembley.
Substitute Peter Vincenti was the hero as he netted an injury time winner to book Boro's place in the final.
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A superb rearguard action saw them through thanks in large part to a man-of-the-match display from Michael Bostwick at the heart of the Boro back four.
Ebbsfleet piled on the pressure in the second period with both Luke Moore and Stacy Long going close to forcing extra time but Boro held out and Vincenti made sure in added time.
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Chances were at a premium and the match will not be remembered as a classic but Boro fans will not care as they start to plan yet another day out at The Big Arch.
Roared on by a partisan crowd, Ebbsfleet predictably made the faster start and Chris Day had to be alert in the second minute when Stacy Long's inswinging corner almost went directly in.
Boro looked nervy at the back in the opening moments as the aerial onslaught towards Fleet striker Michael Gash started.
But Boro looked lively on the break and when Leon Crooks misjudged Andy Drury's diagonal pass it looked like Mitchell Cole was through on goal. Crooks, however, got back at the winger and managed to snuff out the danger before Cole could get the ball under control.
Ebbsfleet were having the lion's share of possession while Gash was getting some joy in the air pulling on to Lawrie Wilson but Boro were just about holding firm.
Drury's 20th minute corner caused a degree of panic in the Fleet penalty area but when the ball fell to Lee Boylan, the former Cambridge man scuffed his shot into the ground and was easily gathered by Lance Cronin.
Boro had the ball in the net in the 26th minute when David Bridges made one of his customary late runs into the box but the referee had spotted an earlier infringement much to the bemusement of the travelling contingent.
For the remainder of the half, play became scrappy with neither side creating much in the final third. The Fleet midfield were struggling to get in support of Gash and Luke Moore while the Boro back four looked more and more comfortable as the half wore on. Michael Bostwick in particular hadn't put a foot wrong.
Cole was looking lively down the left hand side and had a smart right-footed effort from the edge of the area in the 40th minute but Cronin held well.
Bridges then had the ball in the net again in injury time at the end of the first period after a nice ball over the top from Steve Morison but the lineman's flag was raised.
Boro could have put the tie to bed within 30 seconds of the restart when Boylan's through ball split the home defence and Drury looked in on goal. However, the midfielder could only fire wide from a tight angle under pressure from a Fleet defender.
It was the kind of chance you would have expected the midfielder to gobble up bearing in mind the kind of goalscoring form he has been in recently but his miss saw the tension crank up a notch.
It was to be Drury's last action of the game as he appeared to pull a hamstring and Mark Albrighton was put on in his place.
The former Cambridge man slotted in at right back with Wilson being pushed into midfield.
The Boro faithful had their hearts in their mouths in the 58th minute when Ricky Shakes showed Laird a clean pair of heels before crossing for Ricketts whose audacious flick looked set for the bottom corner before Bostwick intervened.
A minute later and Ebbsfleet came even closer to grabbing that all important goal. Guiseppe Sole came in from the left before feeding a clever pass through to Moore, who fired just wide from 12 yards.
Stevenage were rocking and they began to sit deeper and deeper as Fleet piled on the pressure.
Crooks missed a gilt-edged opportunity when Stacy Long's free-kick was only cleared as far as the defender but his right-footed shot flew agonisingly wide from 10 yards.
Day was forced into a wonderful save in the 73rd minute when Long's 20-yard piledriver looked destined for the net but the former Millwall man thrust up a strong hand to palm the ball away.
Day was forced into action again soon after when a ball in behind the defence looked set for Moore to tap home but the Boro shot-stopper just got there in time.
Boro looked to seal it on the counter attack in injury time when Bridges almost got on the end of Morison's cross but Charles did well to head clear.
But Stevenage ensured their Wembley place when Vincenti led a breakaway and cut in from the right to fire low into the far corner with his left foot.
Ebbsfleet United (4-4-2): Cronin 6, Opinel 6, Charles 6, Smith 6, Crooks 6, Sole 6 (Cumbers 66), Long 7, Ricketts 7, Shakes 7 (Purcell 83), Moore 7, Gash 6. Subs not used: Mott, Slatter, Stevens.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Laird 7, Roberts 7, Bostwick 8, Wilson 7, Cole 7, Murphy 6 (Mills 72), Bridges 6, Drury 6 (Albrighton 53), Boylan 6 (Vincenti 86), Morison 6. Subs not used: Bayes, Willock.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Swindon)