Stevenage safe after win over Tranmere and pitch invasion at Oldham

Luke Norris celebrate his second goal for Stevenage against Tranmere Rovers.

Luke Norris celebrate his second goal for Stevenage against Tranmere Rovers. - Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY/TGS PHOTO

Stevenage have guaranteed safety and another season in the Football League after an impressive victory against play-off hopeful Tranmere Rovers.

They knew heading into the match at the Lamex that a win for them coupled with defeat for Oldham Athletic would confirm their place in League Two next year.

Two goals from Luke Norris and a 2-0 win meant they did their part but there was still an anxious wait after Oldham's game at home to Salford City was halted with 14 minutes to go and with the Latics 2-1 down, as home fans protested against the club's owners.

But after a lengthy delay, and with fans no longer in the stadium, the sides played out the final minutes with no further goals, ending Oldham's stay in the league.

Stevenage manager Steve Evans knew little of that but he also had precious few cares about the events in the north west, focusing instead on the "sheer endeavour" of his own players.

He said: “I don't really care what's happened at Boundary Park. There's been a pitch invasion and a sensible decision will be made.

“I think we’ve been performing really well lately. What we lack in terms of ability we make up for in sheer endeavour and this is a great group.

Most Read

“Both full-backs were outstanding, we controlled them at the end of the park and we had excellent phase and movement throughout.

“I said to the players before the game that it would be a total disservice if they weren't in the Football League because I see their quality every day.

"And since I've come in, apart from Exeter, the rest of the performances have been good.

“I'm pleased for Luke, he's a local boy and his header is very special. We make chances for him and he’s a talisman.

“We go to Mansfield on Tuesday. We still got another tough three games and want to finish the season well.

"When we've done that, me and the chairman will sit down and I see no reason why we wouldn't sit down and go forward together.

"He's proven himself in a very short time period to be an outstanding man."

Boro made one change from the draw to Scunthorpe with Arthur Read returning to the lineup. 

After a minute's applause in tribute to Stevenage legend Martin Gittings, the first half was not short of action as both teams created chance after chance. 

Tranmere’s defence looked shaky early on and when Ross Doohan made the mess of a cross, Norris was just unable to capitalise on his mistake.

Another error ended with a cross being volleyed over the top by Jake Taylor.

The breakthrough came after 22 minutes as Jamie Reid won the ball back. He found James-Wildin and when the ball came into the box, it was stopped by the hand of Josh Hawkes.

Coolly, Norris smashed home the penalty to give Stevenage a deserved lead. 

The hosts continued their impressive start after a beautiful counter attack.

Norris held the ball up laying off to Ben Coker, who switched to Elliot List and he in turn laid it off to Read.

It was flicked back to Norris but his shot was blocked, preventing  fine team goal.

Just before the end of the half Stevenage felt they should have had another penalty, when List got on the end of another James-Wildin cross and had his shot blocked by the stray arm of a Tranmere defender.

Nothing came of it though.

Boro were almost gifted a goal early in the second half when Tranmere’s defence had another lapse of judgement. This time though Reid couldn't make it count.

Stevenage didn’t show any signs of slowing down when a great combination of play between Taylor and Reid freed up space on the right for James-Wildin to attempt a shot but sent wide.

They did double their lead shortly after though. Ben Coker whipped in a fantastic cross which was met by the head of Norris and from there the ball flew flew straight into the top left corner.

The game then petered out to its conclusion but it was still serenaded by chants of 'we are staying up' from the Boro faithful.

And they are.