Boro wrap up league title in style
STEVENAGE Borough were crowned Blue Square Premier champions with two games to spare on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Kidderminster Harriers. A second minute goal from Charlie Griffin and a stunning finish from Joel Byrom gave Boro the three points they n
STEVENAGE Borough were crowned Blue Square Premier champions with two games to spare on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Kidderminster Harriers.
A second minute goal from Charlie Griffin and a stunning finish from Joel Byrom gave Boro the three points they needed to guarantee League Two football next season in front of more than 900 of their own fans who had made the journey to Aggborough.
Despite the best attempts of the home side's announcer to keep the away supporters in their terraces after the final whistle they were not to be denied the chance to celebrate on the field with the players 14 years after the club were denied entry to the Football League after winning the Vauxhall Conference in 1996.
The Boro supporters sensed they would seal the title on a ground where they had scored five times just a month previous in the FA Trophy semi-final first leg, and they were given extra room for optimism when, bizarrely, the home side spent the final 20 minutes before kick-off receiving prizes in their annual player awards rather than doing last minute preparation for the game.
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There was a sense that this combined with the naming in the starting XI of the inexperienced goalkeeper Jasbir Singh - the youngster had played only five games before Saturday this season - meant that if Boro began strongly an early goal was there for the taking.
And so it proved.
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Just seconds after Boro kicked off Kidderminster had won the ball back and a pass back to Singh which should have been booted into the stand was instead picked up by the young stopper.
Inexperience in this scenario is no excuse, it was a silly mistake by Singh and Boro tried to capitalise by scoring a quickly taken free kick which they did after just 20 seconds.
The referee, however, correctly pulled the free kick back for being taken in the wrong place and after 50 seconds of Kidderminster organising their wall Boro went and scored again, and this time it counted. Griffin it was who put his laces through Andy Drury's pass.
It was an astonishing start and it silenced the already quiet home support who then had to sit through a further 44 minutes during which Boro were all over their side like a modestly priced two piece.
Byrom had an effort saved by Singh before Beardsley fired the parry on to the post and Ronnie Henry also tested Singh while Drury saw three low efforts all fired left of goal.
Boro, it seemed, had been told to shoot on sight but despite their peppering of the goal they were unable to squeeze another effort pass the rejuvenated Singh.
The hosts started the second half with purpose and Jack Byrne fired an effort over, but Boro were just too good and won each of their individual battles on the pitch.
Drury again tried his luck while Griffin also went close but it was Byrom who sent the visiting fans into unequalled elation when he cut inside from the left, ran into the box with ball in tow and curled a beautiful shot past Singh and into the bottom corner on 62 minutes.
Byrom's finish was in front of the visiting fans and they realised straight away the importance of the strike.
At the other end Chris Day pulled off a splendid save from Chris McPhee to keep yet another clean sheet - Boro's 12th in 15 games - while Lawrie Wilson, on for Yemi Odubade, curled a 20 yard effort just wide of the stanchion in the dying moments.
The Boro fans were told to stay in their terraces as the game came to a close but on the sound of the whistle hundreds, including one jolly fellow dressed as Father Christmas, ran towards the champions and who could blame them?
And if Boro beat Barrow at Wembley in three weeks time then the Boro faithful really will be thinking that all of their Christmases have come at once.
Kiddie (4-4-2): Singh 6, Courtney 5, Riley 7, Prosser 6, Baker 6, Smikle 5, Finnigan 6, Byrne 6, Knights 6 (Lawrie, 71), Matthews 5 (Kerry, 71), McPhee 5. Subs: Sharpe, Bennett.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Henry 8, Ashton 7, Roberts 8, Laird 8, Drury 7, Bostwick 8*, Byrom 8 (Bridges, 69), Odubade 6 (Wilson 7, 63), Beardsley 8, Griffin 8 (Sills, 87). Subs: Bayes, Cole.