We had been planning to go to the Stevenage v Bury game for a few weeks and when I checked on the website it had always said it was a pay on the door affair and a category B game. Unfortunately, although I knew that it had become a must win match for Boro. One that they had to win to get into the playoffs, I didn't think to check until the night before. So, I was a bit dismayed when I saw that they had launched e-ticketing (finally) and to get there early in order to avoid disappointment.
Get there early we certainly did. We arrived there at 12:30 for the 3PM kick off, but there were no queues. We went to the clubs shop and had a drink and then joined the queue which now consisted of 5 people. That said it was a good job we got in early, as we got a good spot on the half way line, which we wouldn't have if we had arrived later as we had previously planned.
It was a big game for Stevenage, but Bury who had been the visitors to Broadhall Lane on the last day of the previous season and had won promotion to League 1 with Boro on this ground were solidly stuck in mid-table with little to play for. That didn't mean though that they were going to lie down and make it easy for the home side. In fact in the opening minutes a fantastic free kick from Steven Schumacher almost put the Shakers in the lead.
Stevenage soon managed to gain control though with Luke Freeman causing all sorts of problems down the left, Joel Byrom threading the ball through the midfield channels and Patrick Agyemang proving a fierce opponent for veteran defender, lower division legend and ex-Stevenage favourite Efe Sodje.
Stevenage took the lead on 23 minutes when the dangerous Freeman put the ball in the centre from the left, Sodje failed to clear and Craig Reid pounced to hammer home.
1-0 wasn't enough to settle the nerves completely, as Notts County, who were Stevenage's opponents for the final spot in the playoffs were absolutely hammering Colchester. Just to make matters worse Chris Day in Boro's goals was called into action to make saves from Schumacher, Grella and Worrell. At the other end Shaker keeper Jonathon Bond was also kept busy as Stevenage looked for the sucker punch as Byrom hit the bar, Freeman came close again and on the opposite flank Lawrie Wilson had 2 decent efforts saved.
Stevenage finally put the score beyond doubt on 76 minutes when a foul on Byrom by Robin Shroot, well the linesman thought it was resulted in a penalty. Byrom remained calm and stepped up to with ice in his veins to strike home.
After this Stevenage were in complete control and in stoppage time an emphatic shot by substitute Chris Beardsley made it 3-0. Next up for Stevenage are Sheffield United, who manager Gary Smith says Boro will show respect to. Some of the chants would suggest that the Boro fans will perhaps be a bit less respectful to the Blades.