Boro suffer heaviest defeat of the season
Bury just too good for Stevenage as three goals give the hosts all three points
Bury 3 Stevenage 0
npower League 2
BORO came off second best as they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season so far at the hands of an impressive Bury side.
The hosts looked imperious at times, especially at the start of the game, but it was not their fluidity or guile which cut open Boro but cheap defending and costly errors which come as somewhat of a surprise given Stevenage’s defensive record this season.
That said, Graham Westley’s men have not kept a clean sheet in four games and in those matches they have conceded two goals on three occasions in addition to the three on Tuesday evening.
Boro had their own chances – they twice saw efforts cleared off the line as well as having a strong shout for a penalty for a foul on Chris Beardsley turned down by referee Graham Salisbury – but they struggled at times with Luke Foster a particular disappointment.
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Foster began the game ahead of the central defensive trio and although he hasn’t had much game time this season, when he has come in he’s looked the business.
Not this time, however, as he was easily turned on occasion whilst his distribution was lacking and he put his side under unnecessary pressure.
Foster was not alone. This was one of Boro’s poorest displays of the season, particularly on the road, and although that was partly because Bury kept possession well and passed with panache at times, it was also because Boro allowed them to.
The hosts were one up after 15 minutes, but it could have been three they were that dominant in the opening stages.
The early signs were there when an early ball over the heads of Michael Bostwick, playing at the back, and Mark Roberts found Andy Bishop only for Chris Day, after a moment’s hesitation, to come out to the edge of his box to clear his lines.
Five minutes later Bury did take the lead, albeit somewhat fortuitously. Phil Picken crossed the ball into the box and Bishop, at the far side of the six-yard box, was almost caught by surprise as the ball bounced off his knee and into the goal, courtesy of the inside of the post.
Boro were stunned, and they had Day to thank moments later when the goalkeeper pushed a Haworth 20-yarder over the bar. It’s easy to lavish praise on goalkeepers for doing their job, but this was a particularly adept piece of keeping.
As Boro tried to come to terms with Bury’s slick movement up front, with the talented Haworth causing Scott Laird all sorts of problems on the right, the visitors were caught out by a terrific bit of ingenuity by Bury striker Ryan Lowe.
Forty yards from goal, the striker saw the ball coming towards him and seeing his marker approach him from behind the striker flicked the ball round the defender to Bishop.
Both players then set off towards the box when Bishop returned the favour only to see Lowe blast over from inside the box when faced with only Day to beat.
Boro did have their own opportunities in the first half but none of Bostwick, Laird or Harrison could hit the target as the visitors attempted to play their way back into the game.
Taking care not to allow their opponents another bright start, Boro took the game to their opponents at the start of the second half.
Captain Mark Roberts almost headed his side level a minute after the break but Cameron Belford made a save on the line, and a Laird free kick soon afterwards failed to reach a Boro head.
Putting pressure on Bury, Boro had a good shout for a penalty turned down on 53 minutes when Picken wrapped his arm around Beardsley and the striker fell over.
It was such a surprise that the spot kick wasn’t awarded that the Boro players were shocked into almost forgetting to appeal.
It took the sting out of Boro, and just moments later Bury went two up themselves when Michael Jones’ cross took a deflection off Bishop who was trying to control it and the ball bounced into the box with former Boro favourite Efe Sodje reacting quickest to poke home past Day.
The goalkeeper may be disappointed he didn’t do better, but he was left without help from his back line who failed to track Sodje.
Boro brought on new signing Craig Reid, and the striker quickly got into the action with his lively movement causing the home side problems for the first time in the evening.
The substitute, who failed to light up the Lamex Stadium on Saturday, was only on the pitch for 27 minutes but was Boro’s best performer.
He almost put his new side level, but saw one shot saved low by Belford and another cleared off the line by Tom Lees.
The same defender also cleared from Wilson after Boro pulled an old free kick routine out of the playbook with Laird running over the ball and down the side of the wall unmarked before being played the ball to cut back into the box.
Boro were piling on some pressure as Bostwick also headed wide, and it was felt that one goal might well get them right back into the game but with 20 minutes remaining it was all over as Lowe, unmarked in the box, headed past a despairing Day.
Boro had further chances, but Mousinho’s 87th minute strike headed towards the heavens summing up a poor night in which Boro have to hold their hands up and admit that the other 11 players on the pitch were just better than them.
Bury (4-4-2): Belford 6, Picken 7, Skarz 6, Lees 6, Sodje 6, Schumacher 5, M Jones 6 (Worrall, 79), Mozika 6, Haworth 7 (Bennett, 81), Lowe 7, Bishop 7 (John-Lewis, 84). Subs not used: Cutler, Sweeney, A Jones, Harrop.
Boro (3-5-2): Day 5, Ashton 5, Roberts 5 (Winn, 74), Bostwick 5, Laird 5, Wilson 6, Foster 4, Sinclair 6, Mousinho 5 (Byrom, 93), Harrison 5, Beardsley 5 (Reid 6, 63). Subs not used: Bayes, Charles, Bridges, Henry.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.
Attendance: 2080 (84 away)