Stevenage book place in League 2 play-off places
- Credit: Archant
Match report: Stevenage 1 Carlisle United 0
Stevenage will have the chance to bounce straight back into League 1 at the first attempt after booking their place in the play-offs.
Dean Parrett fired Boro to victory over Carlisle United, and in doing so confirmed his side’s sixth place finish.
Four years ago Stevenage also finished sixth in their first season in the Football League, and overcame Accrington Stanley and Torquay United on their way to promotion.
With one game remaining this season, Boro’s play-off opponent is yet undecided though it will be one of Southend United, Bury or Wycombe Wanderers.
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All three will hope to offer Stevenage a bigger examination than Carlisle United did.
Ahead of the game there was a minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Bradford City fire disaster, and once the match started there was only one team in the game.
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Boro set up with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, but while they had width with Tom Pett and Dave Martin it was Chris Whelpdale who excelled in the first period.
But his marauding runs were not restricted to keeping chalk on his boots – he bamboozled the visitors by also popping up in central midfield at times, and United just had no answer to him.
The hosts showed their attacking intent from the off with Martin’s deep cross just inches ahead of Tom Conlon at the far post.
Conlon would play a major part in Stevenage’s attacking play in the half, and it was his corner to Andy Bond that allowed the midfielder to control the ball and fire goalwards, only for a defender to clear the ball at the near post.
Whelpdale was given a license to get forward whenever possible, and in one foray into the Carlisle half he ran through the middle of the opposition’s midfield before seeing his low drive saved by Mark Gillespie.
The Carlisle man was the busier of the goalkeepers in the first half; or more truthfully, he was the only one called into action as Chris Day took up a watching brief.
Whelpdale tickled the side-netting with another low shot, before Conlon fired into the stand. The central midfielder then had Gillespie scampering to his right with another strike, only for it to fizz just past the post.
Conlon and Whelpdale were Boro’s tormentors-in-chief, and they combined again to set up Chris Beardsley only for the striker’s shot to be blocked by Danny Grainger.
Another Carlisle body got in the way of a Martin effort as the hosts ramped up the pressure, and it almost paid off before the break only for Gillespie to pull off a superb save down to his right from Whelpdale.
Two minutes into the second half, and Boro finally had the goal their play deserved.
Dean Parrett was the scorer, the midfielder receiving a pass from Pett on the right before picking out his spot in the far side of the goal.
Keith Curle must have given his players a kick up the pants at half-time, because they were marginally better in the opening 20 minutes of the second period.
Their best effort, though, was blasted well off target by Brad Potts, after he had run on to a low cross at the far post.
Pett went close for the hosts, smashing his shot against the post, before Carlisle had one last chance only for Jason Kennedy’s shot to fly wide of Day’s post.
Day hardly dirtied his gloves, though, and in the end it was a fairly straightforward victory for Stevenage.
A tasty encounter with Luton Town awaits next week.
Stevenage: Day, Bond, Okimo, Dembele, Wells, Whelpdale, Martin (Kennedy 67), Conlon (Andrade 58), Parrett (Jebb 90), Pett, Beardsley. Subs: Beasant, Walton, Henry, Deacon.
Carlisle: Gillespie, Grainger, Kennedy, Potts, Brough, Dempsey, O’Hanlon, Wyke (Beck 5), Young (Dicker 78), Griffith (Rigg 56), Atkinson. Subs: Hanford, Buddle, Paynter, Thirlwell.
Ref: D Drysdale.
Att: 3,632 (478)