Slideshow: Ashton's strike sends Boro four points clear

Stevenage Borough 1 Histon 0 SOMETIMES you have to win ugly. That message summed up Boro on Tuesday evening who, after 17 goals in four matches, took three points the hard way in front of the fourth biggest crowd seen at the Lamex Stadium this season. Jon

Stevenage Borough 1 Histon 0

SOMETIMES you have to win ugly.

That message summed up Boro on Tuesday evening who, after 17 goals in four matches, took three points the hard way in front of the fourth biggest crowd seen at the Lamex Stadium this season.

Jon Ashton's 18th minute volley was enough to give Boro all three points against a stubborn Histon side despite a below-par performance.

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Ashton finished cleverly from Stacy Long's corner to seal the victory and despite Boro creating a number of other chances their profligacy in front of goal nearly cost them as only a fine second half save from Chris Day stopped the visitors from leaving with a share of the spoils.

Graham Westley recalled Long and Darren Murphy in place of Joel Byrom, who dropped to the bench, and the suspended Michael Bostwick as they looked to go four points clear at the top of the Blue Square Premier.

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On Saturday at Kidderminster Boro started off on the back foot and as the Harriers dominated the first 20 minutes. This time it was Boro to go for the jugular straight from the off.

A corner from Long was flicked on at the near post by Ashton but Mark Roberts was unable to add the finishing touch at the far post. In this move Roberts clashed with Histon right-back Erkan Okay and it was to be Okay's last involvement in the game after being stretchered off the pitch.

A clever move from Boro saw Yemi Odubade send Long clear. His effort was saved well by David Knight but Mitchell Cole collected the rebound and crossed only for Odubade to miss from a matter of yards.

Odubade has scored from an identical position on Saturday at Aggborough but Boro's finishing on that occasion, when every effort seemed to hit the target, was less clinical against Histon.

Boro cranked up the pressure after this with Cole forcing Knight to save low down shortly after then Odubade was left one on one with Bygrave.

The Boro striker turned inside his man and got away a shot but it took a deflection and went out for a corner. From the set play Boro opened the scoring with Long firing the corner in low for Ashton to volley it first time into the top right hand corner of the goal.

Boro should have doubled their lead when Scott Laird's pass was headed weakly back to Knight by Lanyre Oyebanjo allowing Roberts to steal the ball. The Boro captain tried to go round Knight but the goalkeeper did well and smothered the ball at the defender's feet.

The closest Histon came in the opening 30 minutes was when Daniel Sparkes crossed for Andy Pugh but he fired wide at the near post.

Cole's pace on the left flank was causing Histon real problems and the Boro wide man really should have done better when he raced clear fired straight at Knight and then completely missed the ball when it rebounded out.

Boro were caught square at the back, giving Charlie Sheringham time to line up an effort but his shot was cleared by Ronnie Henry.

A clever move by Boro saw Beardsley knock down Henry's cross for Long but the former Ebbsfleet midfielder's effort was well blocked by the Histon defence.

Histon could have drawn level nine minutes after the break when Sparkes was left all alone at the far post but his effort across the face of goal was put behind by Laird.

Boro failed to clear the corner effectively and Nathaniel Knight-Percival headed narrowly wide from Glen Southam's cross.

Boro were sloppy in the opening stages of the second period and looked in desperate need of a second goal to relieve some of the pressure.

While the score remained at 1-0 there seemed to be a nervousness in the air not helped by the impatience of the crowd.

Another good cross from Sparkes required Laird to head clear with Sheringham ready to pounce had Boro's left-back missed the ball.

Fresh from this let off Boro went up the other end and very nearly doubled their lead, but Cole's shot bobbled agonisingly wide of Knight's far post after good work from Odubade.

A Boro corner was only partially cleared by the Stutes allowing Roberts to knock down Cole's centre in the box. Bridges reacted with an overhead kick but Knight was equal to the effort.

Boro had a massive let off when a quick Histon throw caught Boro napping, giving Pugh time to fire in his shot but thankfully for Boro he drilled his effort the wrong side of Chris Day's goal.

Day was then forced into a fantastic save when Sheringham got free on Boro's left and played in a great ball for Knight-Percival but Day stuck out two big hands and pushed the midfielder's effort over the bar.

Day's opposite number Knight almost immediately equalled the Boro 'keeper's efforts tipping Andy Drury's shot wide for a corner.

Boro's failure to add to Ashton's first half strike ensured a nervous finale.

The game was nearly put beyond doubt in the 93rd minute when Odubade sped away down the right but he shot across the face of goal.

It wasn't to matter for Boro though as referee Bull blew the final whistle almost immediately and although this wasn't Boro at their best they will be very grateful for another three points in their quest for promotion.

Boro: Day 7; Henry 6, Roberts 7*, Ashton 6, Laird 6; Long 6 (Drury 72), Murphy 5 (Byrom 53, 6), Bridges 6, Cole 6; Beardsley 6 (Sills 53, 5), Odubade 6.

Subs: Bayes, Albrighton.

Histon: Knight 6; Okay (Oyebanjo 13, 6), Tann 6, Bygrave 6, Gwillim 6; Smith 6, Southam 6, Knight-Percival 6, Sparkes 6; Pugh 6, Sheringham 6.

Subs: Key, Tidswell, Stewart, York.

Referee: M. Bull.

Att: 2,407.

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