John Barnett looks back at previous meetings with Stevenage
Saturday is the tenth Football League encounter between the clubs, and we did meet for six seasons in the Conference.
Our first visit to Broadhall Way in October 2004 was settled by a spectacular first-half strike from Anthony Elding. Six months later a fitter Stevenage side with more to play for triumphed 2-1. Elding and Jason Goodliffe netted, before Steve Burton pulled one back.
By August Bank Holiday 2005, we had turned full-time but it was having an adverse effect. Stuart Douglas scored our first goal of the campaign, but we lost 2-1. Four months later, an away FA Trophy tie saw some early signs of improvement under new manager John Hollins with a 2-0 triumph. Simon Wormull’s long-range free-kick made it 1-0 before Burton doubled the advantage before half-time.
April’s return fixture came off the back of six wins – and clean sheets - in seven as we pulled away from the drop zone. Stevenage won 2-1 thanks to a brace from future Reds striker Jefferson Louis.
A turbulent summer led to administration and a ten-point deduction, but a terrific 3-2 win in Hertfordshire made it three wins from three. Teenager Michael Bostwick, on work experience from Millwall and who would play under Stevenage legend Graham Westley at three different clubs, scored two and Lee Blackburn the other. Boro had led twice but had goalkeeper Danny Potter sent off.
By March 2007, the off-field upheaval was still evident but we were gradually winning a relegation battle. Goals from Dannie Bulman, Tony Scully and Marcus Richardson secured an excellent 3-0 victory.
The financial clouds had still not dispersed the following season and we started with a six-point deduction. However, Steve Evans’ first match in charge ended in a 2-1 victory, courtesy of a brace on debut from Guy Madjo.
In February 2008 Bully had to don the goalkeeper’s gloves after Ashley Bayes’ early dismissal. Goals from Peter Vincenti and Gavin Grant put Boro in control and although Jon-Paul Pittman pulled one back, James Krause’s dismissal left us down to nine men, and Morison wrapped up the points.
Next up was another August Bank Holiday meeting at Broadhall Way, with the spoils being shared. Mitchell Cole gave Boro the lead with Glenn Wilson rescuing us a point late on. On Easter Monday 2009 Reds’ outside play-off chances ended as we went down 2-0 with another future Crawley striker, Calum Willock, scoring their second.
In Boro’s promotion season, both meetings took place in March 2010. First up was a 2-0 loss then a 3-0 home defeat effectively ended any lingering hopes we had of reaching the play-offs.
With Westley’s men enjoying back to back promotions, we would not face each other again until December 2012 after we had achieved the same feat. An eventful 15-minute saw Robin Shroot put Stevenage in front before Hope Akpan levelled and Bulman won it with a brilliant strike from outside the box against his old club.
Good Friday 2013 saw the next meeting as we maintained a push for the play-offs. Westley’s side took the lead through Mark Roberts but Matt Sparrow earned us a draw in the second half.
The following season again saw Stevenage host first in October. An early goal from Peter Hartley and another in stoppage time from ex-Red loanee Michael Doughty sentenced us to a 2-0 defeat. The following March Bira Dembele gave the visitors the lead, but Matt Tubbs rescued a point in added time.
Boro’s relegation meant we did not face each again until Boxing Day 2015 when the game came to life in the final quarter. Gwion Edwards put us in front but Michael Tonge’s 87th minute penalty looked to have earned them a share of the spoils. However, Roarie Deacon won it for the Reds in the final minute against his former club. Matt Harrold’s first-half strike sealed the double the following February. It was a double for Stevenage last season though. James Collins scored in both games but Stevenage won them both 2-1.
Pictured: Roarie Deacon scores the late winner in our last home victory over Stevenage in 2015. Photo: James Boardman, Telephoto Images