With Barnet winning the 2014/15 Conference Premier by 12 points it was left to the chasing pack to fight it out in the playoffs, with six teams separated by just a handful of points heading into the final round of league fixtures. A 2-0 home win over Leigh RMI saw Stevenage do their part, although they had to rely on Tamworth holding Morecambe to a draw at The Lamb to ensure Boro made the playoffs at the Shrimpers’ expense.
Facing second placed Hereford United in the semi-finals looked daunting but the Bulls only finished two points ahead of Boro in the table and the teams had a victory each in the corresponding league fixtures.
A crowd of 6,520 packed into Broadhall Way for the first leg and it proved an entertaining game with chances for both teams. Hereford finally got the breakthrough 15 minutes from time, courtesy of a wonder strike from distance from sub Danny Carey-Bertram.
Carey-Bertram puts Hereford ahead in the second half
That goal sparked scenes of celebrations in the South Stand
That looked liked being enough for the win until Dino Maamria latched onto an 87th minute cross from Jon Brady to power a header down and into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Dino Maamria equalised for Boro
The second leg at Edgar Street was a highly charged affair with the hosts rampant for much of the game. In the first half Alan Julian saved well from Adam Stansfield and Craig Stanley (twice) as Stevenage somehow went into the break level, only to hit the hosts with a sucker punch in the 68th minute.
From a quickly taken corner, Elding struck the bar with a fierce effort and there was Dino Maamria to head home the rebound from close-range. Under severe pressure for the remaining 20 minutes, Stevenage held out to make it to the playoff final amidst jubilant scenes at Edgar Street.
Dino Maamria celebrates his goal
Anthony Elding looks happy
A young George Boyd helps Boro reach the playoff final
Jubilant Boro fans at Edgar Street
The team celebrate reaching the final!
Held at the Britannia Stadium, the final itself wasn’t a classic. Alan Julian saved well early on from Derek Holmes before Elding shot just wide from a Boro corner. However the breakthrough came in the 23rd minute when Peter Murphy headed home Tom Cowan’s cross to put the Cumbrians ahead.
Graham Westley guided his side to the Britannia Stadium final
Boro fans at Stoke
Darryn Stamp saw a shot deflect over and Goodliffe cleared a header off the line as chances came at both ends before half time, before the men in blue and white went into the break a goal to the good.
Dino Maamria in action against Carlisle
Skipper Jason Goodliffe slides into a tackle
Stevenage pushed forward in the second half looking for that equaliser without success. Elding blazed over, George Boyd fired a free-kick just over, Stamp shot tamely at Matty Glennon and then right wing-back Mickey Warner went on a rampaging run into the area, only to see his shot saved by Glennon in the chance of the half for Boro.
Carlisle clung on to win promotion back to the Football League at the first time of asking, condemning Stevenage to heartbreak and another season in the Conference.
Carlisle win promotion back to the Football League
Stevenage: Julian, Warner, Goodliffe (Weatherstone 81), Henry, Laker (Boyd 52), Gregory, Brady, Bulman, Maamria, Elding, Stamp (Nurse 66)
Subs not used: Westhead, Quinn