Report: Stevenage 3 Bury 0
Boro to face Sheffield United in the League 1 play-offs
Stevenage 3 Bury 0
npower League 1
Stevenage’s dream of a third successive promotion is still on after they booked a play-off semi-final date with Sheffield United.
Craig Reid, Joel Byrom and Chris Beardsley were all on target as Gary Smith’s men beat Bury on Saturday and they will now face the Blades, home and away, for a place in the play-off final on May 26.
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It is a remarkable achievement for Smith and his men who will host United in the first leg this Friday (May 11) before travelling up to Bramall Lane next Monday (May 14) to face a team they have yet to lose to this season.
After the Bury game, Smith said there would be no fear from Boro heading into the semi-finals and the Stevenage manager added that he will have his players on ‘raw meat and razor blades’ all week to make sure they’re on top of their game.
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Saturday’s game was, in the end, quite a comfortable affair. Boro went into the match needing a win to ensure they finished the season in sixth place, and they went about it in a confident manner.
Luke Freeman had already spent the best part of 20 minutes attacking Bury right-back Andrai Jones and putting in useful crosses when the former Arsenal winger, via a deflection, found Reid who took a touch and powered his shot home from close range.
With Notts County taking the lead at home to Colchester United a Stevenage slip-up would hand the advantage to the Midlands side, and they were almost pegged back when Mike Grella curled a decent effort just wide of Chris Day’s goal from the edge of the Boro box.
Steven Schumacher also had a chance after Lawrie Wilson laid it on a plate for him only for the Bury man’s shot to take a flick off Mark Roberts’ head when the ball had look destined for the back of Day’s goal.
Reid, back in the starting line-up in place of Robin Shroot, tested Bury goalkeeper Jonathan Bond seconds into the second half when he collected a Patrick Agyemang knock down to volley straight at the goalkeeper.
Notts County were doing their end of the bargain, putting goals galore past Colchester, while back at the Lamex Byrom hit the crossbar with a floated free kick before Wilson saw his rasping shot slip through the fingers of Bond but over the goalkeeper’s bar.
With 15 minutes to go Stevenage put the game to bed. Shroot broke through the Bury back line into the box and appeared to be clipped leading him to fall to the ground. The referee, having originally refused Boro a penalty kick, deferred to his linesman, pointed to the spot and Byrom tucked home his effort to double Stevenage’s lead.
A third goal came a minute into injury time, Beardsley firing past Bond, but by this time Boro were already in the play-offs.
Smith says Stevenage will have no fear when taking on United. In the two games between the sides already this season Stevenage have picked up a win and a draw.
Boro will go into the matches as underdogs, but they are the form team and will be looking to carry that form all the way to Wembley.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day, Lascelles, Laird, Roberts, Ashton, Freeman, Wilson, Byrom (Mousinho 80), Bostwick, Reid 7 (Shroot 58), Agyemang (Beardsley 82). Subs Julian, Myrie-Williams.
Bury (4-4-2): Bond, Skarz, Sodje, Clarke, Jones, Sweeney, Schumacher, Coke 7 (Carrington 66), Worral, Grella 6 (John-Lewis 62), Harrad 5 (Elford-Alliyu 72). Subs: Picken, Hughes.
Att: 4781 (337)