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16:49 5th May 2012

Stevenage 3 - 0 Bury

Stevenage booked an historic play off place with a magnificent 3-0 victory over Bury at The Lamex Stadium.

Craig Reid gave Boro a first half lead with a well a struck volley and a second half penalty from Joel Byrom made it two.

A late strike from Chris Beardsley was the icing on the cake as he smashed a beautiful goal into the top corner.

The goals were enough to secure a sixth place finish despite Notts County winning in their final game; large wins against Sheffield Wednesday, Colchester United and Rochdale playing their part in a final position that was earned on goal difference.

They will now face Sheffield United at home in the first leg of the semi-final on Friday 11th May before travelling to Bramall Lane on Monday 14th May for a place in the final at Wembley Stadium.

Bury Manager Richie Barker had told the club's official website that the game at The Lamex would be "far from an end of season kick about" and said that "the fact that Stevenage have something to play for" would lead to an open game which would suit his side.

The Boro starting XI, which included Craig Reid in attack as replacement for Robin Shroot in the only change from last Saturday's draw at Bramall Lane, came out to rapturous applause in front of a 4781 strong crowd.

Boro took the lead with 23 minutes on the clock after some fine work from Freeman on the left wing, following on from a plaudit drawing performance in front of the Sky cameras, he wizzed down the wing before curling a ball into the middle. A deflection off former Boro man Efe Sodje looped the ball into the air and Reid brought it down on his chest before volleying the ball into the back of the net.

The goal only arrived after a difficult opening period for the home side who were perhaps suffering from some pre game jitters. The atmosphere in the stadium hadn't helped that as it became increasingly nervous in the minutes previous to the opener.

The news that Jeff Hughes had given Notts County the lead at home to Colchester United wasn't greeted with the same reaction as it would have if Boro were still level; all the same it was a welcome reminder that Stevenage should not be comfortable without a cushion over the Shakers.

Steven Schumacher seemed to have his shooting boots on, a free kick before Boro took the lead was watched wide by Chris Day before two long range volleys threatened to spoil the mood, the first of which was only sent over by the head of Mark Roberts.

Six minutes of the half were remaining as Byrom strode forward well, taking on the last defender he slipped the ball through for Freeman who aimed for the far corner but only found the outstretched leg of Sodje to deflect it wide of the mark.

The nerves had seeped into the second half with a tame effort from Freeman the only chance created in the first ten minutes; it prompted a change from Smith who brought Shroot on for Reid with 57 minutes on the clock.

The following six minutes produced Boro's best spell with a Byrom free kick finding its way through and crashing off the cross bar before a well-hit Wilson effort was only bettered by the fists of Bond in the Bury goal.

With 20 minutes to go County lead by four goals, their three points were all but secured meaning that a victory was a must for Stevenage if it wasn't to be the last game of the season. Five minutes later they were given the chance to strengthen their position.

Shroot slipped through the away side's defence before being hauled down in the area by Schumacher and a penalty was awarded. Byrom strode over and placed it on the spot before calmly sending the 'keeper the wrong way and making it 2-0.

In the closing minutes second half substitute Elford-Alliyu hit a long range effort off the top of the cross bar but instead it was Boro who found the net again when Beardsley struck a sublime effort into the top corner.

Stevenage (4-4-2) - Day; Lascelles, Ashton, Roberts, Laird; Wilson, Byrom (Mousinho 79), Bostwick, Freeman; Reid (Shroot 57), Agyemang (Beardsley 80)
Unused Subs: Julian, Myrie-Williams

Bury (4-4-2) - Bond; Jones, Clarke, Sodje, Skarz; Worrall, Sweeney, Schumacher, Coke (Carrington 65); Grella (John-Lewis 61), Harrad (Elford-Alliyu 71)
Unused Subs: Picken, Hughes

Att: 4781

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.