Morison brace puts Boro on verge of play-off final

Stevenage Boro 3 Cambridge United 1 A superb second half performance from 10-man Boro has put the club on the verge of their second Wembley final of the season. Steve Morison s second half brace has given Cambridge a monumental mountain to climb on Mond

Stevenage Boro 3 Cambridge United 1

A superb second half performance from 10-man Boro has put the club on the verge of their second Wembley final of the season.

Steve Morison's second half brace has given Cambridge a monumental mountain to climb on Monday and Gary Brabin will be fuming his side could not take advantage of playing against a side with 10 men for the whole of the second half.

Darren Murphy's controversial dismissal at the end of the first half served only to give Boro the spark they needed and, within two minutes of the restart, Mark Roberts headed Boro in front.

Graham Westley's side were pegged back by Lee Phillips' fine finish a minute later but then Morison took centre stage.

The 25-year-old's excellent header gave Boro the lead just after the hour mark and his lethal finish late on sent the home crowd into raptures in what could be his last appearance at The Lamex Stadium.

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Jon Ashton gave manager Graham Westley a boost by declaring himself fit and the former Grays man slotted straight back in at centre half in place of Mark Albrighton, who was left out of the match day squad.

Junior Mendes was given the nod ahead of Lawrie Wilson for the left wing role vacated by Mitchell Cole, who served the first of a three-match ban after his sending off at Mansfield.

The Boro faithful had their hearts in their mouths in the ninth minute when Phil Bolland tested the reflexes of Chris Day with a firm downward header but the linesman had raised his flag.

Cambridge were the quicker of the two sides to settle but it was clear that chances were going to be at a premium.

Phillips had the first shot in anger when he unleashed a fearsome strike from 25-yards that whistled just wide of Day's left-hand post.

But at the other end Boro were struggling to find any rhythm with both Lee Boylan and Steve Morison lacking any real support from midfield.

The one piece of meaningful action from Stevenage in the first half-hour came when Andy Drury was shown a harsh yellow card for an over-zealous challenge on Wayne Hatswell.

Meanwhile, Cambridge still presented the greater threat going forward and had two very good chances to go in front before the break.

Phillips had a looping header that landed on the roof of the net then Crow had a golden chance to open the scoring when Reason picked out the former Peterborough man in the six-yard area but somehow he glanced wide with the goal gaping.

Both sides looked content to go in goalless at the break then referee Rob Whitton made a possible season defining decision when Murphy was shown the second red card of his Boro career.

Drury swung over a corner from the left and there appeared to be a clash of heads between Challinor and the Irishman.

But with the Cambridge fans baying for blood, the referee's assistant, Nigel Lugg, who must have been at least 60 yards away from the incident, said there had been an elbow and Murphy was sent for an early bath.

It was simply a baffling decision and the Boro bench were understandably fuming as Boro faced up to a second half playing with 10 men yet again.

Boro's sense of injustice appeared to galvanise them and in the 47th minute Roberts headed them in front. Drury's free kick found Morison free at the back post and his header back across the face of goal found the former Northwich Victoria man, who had the simple task of nodding home from close range.

Boro's joy was short-lived, however, when 60 seconds later Cambridge were back on level terms. A long ball forward was nodded down by Crow into the path of his strike partner Phillips and his smart strike from the edge of the area gave Day no chance.

Cambridge were showing just why they have arguably been the most consistent side in the Blue Square Premier this season. Only a wonderful clearance off the line by Gary Mills from Dan Gleeson's shot-cum-cross prevented Stevenage from going behind.

But Stevenage are also made of sterner stuff nowadays and defied the odds just after the hour-mark by taking the lead once again.

Drury swung over a cross from the right and Morison rose above Coulson on the edge of the area to direct a great header that looped just out of the reach of Potter into the back of the net.

The Cambridge fans fell silent for the first time and it almost got even worse for them five minutes later when Boylan had a great chance to make it 3-1 but he miscued a volley into the grateful arms of Potter from the corner of the six-yard area.

But Boro weren't finished and in the 84th minute Morison pounced once again, latching on to Drury's pass before firing past Potter.

Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Henry 7, Ashton 8, Roberts 8, Laird 7, Drury 7 (Willock 88), Murphy 6, Bostwick 7, Mendes 6 (Mills 46, 6), Boylan 6 (Wilson 71), Morison 7. Subs not used: Bayes, Vincenti.

Cambridge United (3-5-2): Potter 6, Bolland 7, Coulson 6 (Pitt 71), Hatswell 6, Gleeson 7, Challinor 6 (Willmott 69), Reason 7, Carden 6, Tonkin 6, Phillips 7, Crow 7 (Holroyd 76). Subs not used: McMahon, Rendell.

Referee: Rob Whitton (Essex)

Attendance: 4,446

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