Report: Bury 1 Stevenage 2
Bury 1 Stevenage 2
npower League 1
Byron Harrison and Mark Roberts were both on target as Stevenage extended their unbeaten run to four games to move up to tenth in League 1.
Last season Boro were taught a lesson at Gigg Lane against a fluent, attacking Bury outfit, but Graham Westley’s men have clearly improved since that 3-0 defeat and not only deserved all three points but could have added two or three more goals to the two they got.
With Stacy Long dropped from the squad and Chris Beardsley only making the bench, there was a starting place for the returning Michael Bostwick in midfield while Craig Reid partnered Harrison up front.
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The first chance of the match fell to Stevenage but Robin Shroot’s 25 yard shot flew over the stand behind Trevor Carson’s goal, and Steven Schumacher, too, hit a shot from distance for Bury but it was straight at Chris Day.
Stevenage took the lead on 38 minutes but until then they had done little to cause Bury concern just as the hosts had struggled to get the better of the Boro defence as their pretty football, unlike last season, was all style and no substance.
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Stevenage went into the break a goal to the good courtesy of Harrison’s second strike of the season. The visitors had moved the ball forwards slowly before a cross into the box from Ronnie Henry was cleared only as far as Bostwick 35 yards from goal.
The midfielder headed back towards John Mousinho on the edge of the Bury box and his knock down found Harrison who hit his shot on the turn into Carson’s bottom left corner.
Pete Sweeney went close just before the break but his effort from 20 yards curled away from Day’s top corner, but that apart the Stevenage goalkeeper had a quiet first period and a penalty aside had little to do in the following 45 minutes, too.
Just as in the previous half the first effort in the second period fell to Shroot who forced a save from Carson before Boro made a double change with Reid and Harrison making way for Beardsley and Lawrie Wilson.
Sweeney then shot over from distance just past the hour mark before the home side thought they had taken the lead on 67 minutes only for Andy Bishop to be adjudged offside after converting Mike Jones’ cross.
The next time the net bulged the goal stood but this time it was the visitors who hit the target.
Roberts had remained in the final third after a Stevenage set piece had been cleared, and when Joel Byrom crossed from the left the Boro skipper timed his run in behind the Bury back line and headed home with aplomb.
Yet it wasn’t over as within three minutes Wilson had conceded a penalty by appearing to pull Picken by the arm, and Bishop got his goal when he put his spot kick beyond Day into the right corner.
The natural order of things would usually dictate a Bury fight back but it was Stevenage who finished the stronger as they created so many chances that it was disappointing they failed to add to their two goals.
Beardsley set up Shroot on the left but his shot across goal went the wrong side of the far post, yet a worse miss was to come and it was Beardsley who fluffed his line.
Wilson hit a pass down the right for Mousinho who took two defenders with him before hitting a pass inside to Beardsley who had made it into the Bury box unmarked. The striker had enough time to take a touch and pick his spot but then hit his shot at Carson’s legs when the goal had beckoned.
To be fair to Beardsley he was outstanding in the final 15 minutes as he made the most of the space down each flank as Bury’s full backs pushed on but it was a poor miss from a striker in good form so far this season.
Byrom, too, had a chance to make it three for Stevenage only to see his shot blocked 16 yards out while Laird struck over the bar from a free kick.
In the end a third goal wasn’t required and after the match Graham Westley said he had mixed feelings come the final whistle which on one hand saw Boro take all three points but on the other had put an end to a wonderful finish from the away team which took Boro to within four points of the League 1 play-off places ahead of next weekend’s visit of Sheffield United.
Bury (4-4-2): Carson, Picken (Byrne 76), Skarz, Hughes, Sodje, M Jones, Coke, Sweeney, Schumacher, Bishop, Harrad (John-Lewis 64). Subs: Belford, Cregg, A Jones.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day, Henry, Laird, Roberts, Ashton, Byrom (Edwards 90), Shroot, Mousinho, Bostwick, Reid (Wilson 54), Harrison (Beardsley 54). Subs: Julian, Cowan.