Boro’s play-off hopes on track
Stafford Rangers 1 Stevenage Boro 3 A goal in each half from Steve Morison and a spectacular free-kick from Mark Hughes kept Boro s play-off hopes on track at Marston Road on Tuesday night. But they had to come from behind after struggling Stafford took a
Stafford Rangers 1 Stevenage Boro 3
A goal in each half from Steve Morison and a spectacular free-kick from Mark Hughes kept Boro's play-off hopes on track at Marston Road on Tuesday night.
But they had to come from behind after struggling Stafford took an early lead through on-loan striker David McNiven.
In front of the lowest Conference crowd of the season - numbering just 653 - the home side made a bright start and Robin Gibson tested Alan Julian.
The Boro keeper was well positioned to hold a well-struck drive but he was at fault in the 15th minute.
Julian failed to keep out a low shot from McNiven, struck from just outside the area.
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Any hopes that Stafford could avenge their 6-0 thrashing at Broadhall Way back in September were quickly put on hold as Boro equalised three minutes later.
Found on the edge of the area, Morison lifted the ball up with his boot and hit an unstoppable volley that went in via the underside of the bar.
Mark Beard had a goal ruled out for offside after Stafford keeper Danny Alcock pulled off a fine save to parry Daryl McMahon's initial low drive.
Then a foul by home skipper Wayne Daniel on Morison resulted in a free-kick just outside the Stafford area.
Hughes stepped forward and hit a stunning right-foot inswinger that curled perfectly into the top corner, giving Alcock no chance.
Cheered on by an official count of 90 travelling fans, Boro, who had played a patient game in the opening 45 minutes, pressed for a third goal before the break and almost got one.
Alcock parried a low drive from McMahon after good work by the recalled Steve Guppy.
And Boro almost took advantage of a hesitant home defence when Hughes fired just over.
Boro stifled any hopes of a Stafford recovery after the break, although defender Craig McAughtrie headed over direct from a corner.
It was all but over in the 66th minute when Morison netted his second of the game and Boro's third.
Jon Nurse fed Guppy out on the left who crossed to the far post where the ball fell to Morison who forced it home.
Shortly after, Morison picked up a booking for a stiff challenge on Nathan Talbott and was perhaps fortunate not to be shown a straight red card.
Julian also pulled off a smart save to turn round a long-range effort from Ged Murphy.
The part-time home side tired during the last 15 minutes and had England National Game XI keeper Alcock to thank for preventing any further goals.
He got down to hold a shot from Beard and parried another shot from substitute Mitchell Cole.
Stafford's misery was completed in injury-time when defender Richie Sutton was dismissed for a second bookable offence.