Boro cruise to win at Crawley
Crawley Town 0 Stevenage Boro 2 Boro kept up their charge for the play-offs at Crawley Town this afternoon as goals from Michael Bostwick and Calum Willock secured a vital win. Bostwick s superb first-half strike gave Boro the lead at the break and Will
Crawley Town 0 Stevenage Boro 2
Boro kept up their charge for the play-offs at Crawley Town this afternoon as goals from Michael Bostwick and Calum Willock secured a vital win.
Bostwick's superb first-half strike gave Boro the lead at the break and Willock settled any nerves late on with an assured finish that has got the Stevenage fans dreaming of two Wembley finals in May.
The match followed a similar pattern to Saturday's win against Ebbsfleet with Stevenage always looking in control although it took Willock's goal late on to finally banish any fears that Boro would be leaving with anything less than three points.
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Graham Westley's side once again looked solid as a rock at the back although the one black mark on the day was the sight of Jon Ashton being stretchered off late on with a shoulder injury.
Boro made four changes from the side that beat Ebbsfleet United on Saturday as the club's injury and suspension worries start to ease.
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Mark Roberts and Bostwick both returned from suspension in place of Mark Albrighton and John Martin, who can consider himself unlucky to miss out on 16 altogether having impressed in Boro's last two league games following his recall from a loan spell at Ebbsfleet.
Ronnie Henry shook off a calf injury to take up his normal right back berth as Lawrie Wilson was pushed into midfield with Junior Mendes dropped to the bench.
Lee Boylan replaced Calum Willock up front after recovering from a bout of sickness with the former Cambridge man eager to add to his three goals in his last three games.
Boro immediately set off on the front foot and a nice piece of quick thinking from Steve Morison almost led to an early chance for Bostwick.
The striker's long throw-in found the midfielder marauding into the penalty area but the youngster couldn't get the ball under control and Wright was able to make a last-ditch clearance.
But, in truth, the most interesting action was happening in the respective dug-outs as Town boss Steve Evans constantly urged the fourth official to keep Westley in his technical area, with little success.
Crawley carved out their first chance of note in the 14th minute when Chris Giles met a Sam Rents free-kick but his looping header was easily shepherded on to the roof of the net by Chris Day.
Boro were getting some joy down the right flank through Henry and Wilson but their crossing was not matching their impressive approach play.
But Boylan showed them how it's done in the 24th minute when his excellent cross from the right caused panic in the Crawley defence before a bicycle kick from Roberts was deflected over the bar.
Boro undoubtedly carried the greater threat going forward and Morison almost benefited from a lack of communication between Crawley 'keeper Simon Rayner and Adam Quinn.
Wilson's long ball forward was allowed to bounce and the Crawley men got too close together prompting Quinn to nod past his own goalkeeper but Morison was unable to capitalise as Rayner just about recovered.
But Boro got the breakthrough they deserved five minutes before the break and it was well worth waiting for.
Bostwick's first effort from 25 yards was blocked but it rebounded right back into his path and this time he made no mistake. He rifled the bouncing ball through a crowd of players into the bottom corner giving Rayner no chance.
But Boro were almost caught napping in the first minute of the second half when Isaiah Rankin's jinking run almost carved out a chance for Glenn Wilson but Laird had seen the danger and hacked the striker's cross away from danger inside his six-yard area.
But Stevenage came roaring back and could have wrapped up the points soon after when Wilson's threaded pass found Boylan in space 15 yards from goal but the former Cambridge man's right-footed effort flashed inches wide.
Boro's slender lead was emphasised though in the 56th minute when Giles was left unmarked from a Michael Malcolm corner but his downward header bounced over the bar.
Substitute Jon Shaw then had a golden chance to get his side back on level terms when he was sent through on goal by Robbie Matthews but he snatched at the chance and his shot flew well over the bar.
Crawley were starting to carve out chances while the Boro front line couldn't keep hold of the ball to relieve the pressure off the defence. Willock was brought on for Boylan to try and give Stevenage more of a presence in attack but still Town came forward.
Boro's back four was once again being heavily lent upon but, once again, they were up to the challenge.
And it gave Stevenage the platform they needed to secure the three points when Willock latched on to a clever ball through before lobbing the onrushing 'keeper.
First team coach Dino Maamria was sent to the stands in stoppage time by the referee with the Tunisian appearing to have a heated exchange with the opposing bench.
Crawley Town (4-4-2): Rayner 6, Rents 7, Giles 6, Quinn 6, Wright 6, Forrest 6 (Shaw 53), Wilson 6, Bulman 6, Malcolm 7 (Killeen 76), Cook 7, Rankin 5 (Matthews 53). Subs not used: Gaia, Hurren.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Henry 7, Ashton 7 (Vincenti 85), Roberts 7, Laird 7, Wilson 7, Bostwick 8, Mills 6, Cole 7, Boylan 6 (Willock 63), Morison 6. Subs not used: Bayes, Albrighton, Mendes.
Referee: Ian Cooper