Full time: Stevenage 4 Rochdale 2
Craig Reid (two) and Chris Beardsley (two) win it for Boro
Stevenage 4 Rochdale 2
1min – Michael Bostwick gives the ball away to David Ball, and is caught out of position. Ball plays in Jean Louis Akpro, who takes a touch just inside the Boro box and shoots low. Day, though, stays on his feet long enough and gets a knee to it.
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3mins – Jake Kean hits a long ball up front, and it bounces over Bostwick’s head. In the box there are plenty of Rochdale bodies and Ashley Grimes sets up Akpro but he can only curl over from 18 yards.
7mins – Gary Jones volleys over from 25 yards.
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13mins – Craig Reid scores. Boro build up some good play on the left, and when the ball is sent over to the right of the box by Darius Charles Lawrie Wilson controls it back to Reid. The striker, on the half-turn, chests it, and then turns to shoot across Kean and into the bottom left corner. 1-0.
20mins – Andrew Tutte gets a bit of space 25 yards from the Boro goal. He shoots low, but it’s wide.
21mins - It’s good pressure from Boro who force yet another corner in a move started by Joel Byrom in the centre circle. The midfielder takes it, outswinger along the ground, and the ball is dummied by Chris Beardsley to allow Scott Laird, running in behind, to shoot from an angle from 10 yards. Kean saves well with his foot at the post.
26mins – Stephen Darby gets some space down the right and is able to ping a nice cross in across the Boro six-yard box. Akpro is there but is unable to reach the ball which flies across the face of goal and is cleared by Boro.
27mins – Ball shoots after finding himself unmarked just inside the Boro box. Day pulls off a save low to his right but Ashley Grimes is on his own eight yards from goal for what looks like a shoe-in. But boy does he make a meal of it. The striker takes a touch when none was needed and from out of nowhere Mark Roberts comes in with a remarkable sliding tackle to clear the ball from the feet of Grimes three yards from goal. Astonishing.
28mins – Boro may have been pumped up from the Roberts tackle, but the visitors had a corner and score an equaliser when Boro fail to clear properly. Gary Jones, at the far side of the box, hits a wonderful volley past Day from 16 yards after the ball had been half-cleared to level the game, 1-1.
30mins – But two minutes later and Boro are ahead again. Chris Beardsley it is who sneaks in to score from two yards after Kean had saved low from, but spilled, Reid’s shot from the edge of the box. Beardsley shows a striker’s instinct to be first to the ball. 2-1.
45+2 mins - And who says Boro can’t play football? A wonderful team move ends with a sensational goal from Beardsley who appears to have found his level! Darius Charles plays the ball to the front man, who, with his back to the Rochdale goal some 22 yards out, takes a touch to take his marker out of game before curling a right-footed effort into the top corner. He won’t have scored many better. Sensational. 3-1 to Boro.
53mins – Charles scores from a free kick after heading home eight yards from goal, but the referee pulls the game back for a Rochdale free kick and hands out a yellow card to Craig Reid for an infringement in the build-up.
60mins – Grimes gets the ball in the box and shoots at the Boro goal, but Day gets behind it and palms it away to safety.
68mins – Nicky Adams crosses in for Akpro, but Day, coming out but failing to punch clear, manages to get in the way of the big striker whose header goes out for a goal kick.
70mins – And Boro makes it four. How Craig Reid was able to hold off two defenders twice his size only he will know, but it’s poor marking and the chance came from nothing. The ball was hit into the area, Reid tangled with two players and as both he and Neal Trotman were in the mix the striker sent the ball goalwards past Kean for his second of the match, 4-1.
71mins – Rochdale looked down and out, but they weren’t. Ball it was who scores from the edge of the box as the visitors looked to get back into the game. At the other end Laird heads goalwards but Pim Balkenstein heads over the bar from just underneath it.
74mins – And Ball is on a one-man mission to drag his side back into this. He battles Mark Roberts 30 yards from goal and manages to get free from the centre-back before shooting across Day and just wide of the post.
86mins – Josh Walker, on as a substitute, hits a defence-splitting pass between Joe Widdowson at left-back and Balkenstein at centre-back for May to run on to. The striker gets there, but rushes his effort from an angle and boots it out for a goal kick.
89mins – Beardsley shoots after running on to a ball over the top but Trotman slides in to block it with his chest.
90+4 - Walker strikes a free kick over from 25 yards.
Boro (4-4-2): Day, Henry, Charles (Walker 69), Bostwick, Roberts, Wilson, Laird, Mousinho, Byrom (Edwards 77), Reid (May 79), Beardsley. Subs: Julian, Shroot.
Rochdale (4-3-1-2): Kean, Darby, Widdowson, Balkenstein (Holness 90), Trotman, Tutte, Jones, Kennedy (Barnes-Homer 65), Grimes (Adams 65), Ball, Akpro. Subs: Lucas, Barry-Murphy.
Att: 3021 (273 away)