Monday 8th April, 1996. Broadhall Way
On Easter Monday 1996, Boro took on fierce rivals Woking at Broadhall Way in arguably the most important match ever played between the two clubs. Both teams before kick- off had a realistic chance of being crowned GM Conference Champions that season.
Whilst there were still 7 further games to play after this match, both sets of supporters viewed this as the defining match in the season. The build-up to the game certainly had a ‘winner takes all’ feel to it for the Boro faithful.
Boro went into the match on the back of a 1-0 defeat on the road at Morecambe and also without 3 key players due to suspension – Kenny Webster, Corey Browne and Alan Paris. On a positive note, Neil Trebble was available for selection for the first time after returning to the club.
Stevenage Borough 4 – 0 Woking
|Trebble (75)||Attendance: 3,976|
|Manager: Paul Fairclough||Manager: Geoff Chapple|
|Team Sheet||Team Sheet|
|01 Des Gallagher||01 Laurence Batty|
|02 Scott Cretton||02 Mark Tucker|
|03 Rob Mutchell||03 Dave Timothy|
|04 Efetobor Sodje||04 Colin Fielder|
|05 Mark Smith||05 Dereck Brown|
|06 Paul Barrowcliff||06 John Crumplin|
|07 Dave Venables||07 Trevor Baron (Junior Hunter)|
|08 Neil Trebble ( Gary Crawhaw)||08 Andy Ellis|
|09 Steve Berry||09 Scott Steele ( Darren Adams)|
|10 Stuart Beevor||10 Darran Hay ( Steve Thompson)|
|11 Barry Hayles||11 Clive Walker|
|12 Gary Crawshaw||12 Junior Hunter|
|14 Shaun Marshall||14 Steve Thompson|
|15 Richard Wilmot (GK)||15 Darren Adams|
The start of the game was delayed for 15 minutes due to crowd congestion as the 3,976 spectators took their positions. It should be remembered that this game was played before the redevelopment of Broadhall Way and as such the ground was very full – adding to the atmosphere and sense of occasion.
On the pitch, Boro calmed the nerves of the expectant crowd after 3 minutes as Dave Venables found the net after a precise through ball from returning striker Neil Trebble. Taking the lead so early in the match settled Boro who were playing with confidence and a sense of purpose.
Laurence Batty in the Woking goal kept the Surrey side in the game in the opening 30 minutes, first producing a fine save in a one on one situation with goal scorer Dave Venables and then coming quickly off his line to narrow the angle as Neil Trebble found himself in space, with his resultant shot rising high over the bar.
The all-important 2nd goal came on 29 minutes. A short corner executed by Paul Barrowcliff and Scott Cretton resulted in a blistering cross which the ever present Dave Venables failed to connect with his head. Luckily for Boro, Barry Hayles was on hand to pick up the loose ball and drill it into the net.
The celebration from the Boro supporters was intense and was a mixture of jubilation and relief that a 2 goal cushion had been established before half time.
In truth, Woking never really got a foothold in the game but their best period was at the beginning of the second half, the closest they came being a long range shot into the side netting from Clive Walker.
Boro seemed to be content to kill the game by retaining possession and frustrating their opponents. After the momentum had been taken out of the visitors following Geoff Chapple’s half time speech, Boro again started to press forward.
On 68 minutes Efetobor Sodje added to the score line as he stuck out a foot to guide the ball into the Woking net after an initial shot from Barry Hayles was going wide of the post.
The fine win was sealed on 75 minutes as returning striker Neil Trebble headed past Laurence Batty following a slick interchange around the Woking penalty area between Steve Berry and Dave Venables created an opening for the big striker.
In fairness to Woking, they continued to look for opportunities to reduce the arrears with both Woking substitutes Darren Adams and Steve Thompson going close in the final stages of the game.
Barry Hayles could have, and probably should have, made it 5 late on when put through on goal. Laurence Batty thwarted the Boro striker by coming off his line and spreading himself to save at his feet.
Boro went on to win the GM Vauxhall Conference that season scoring 101 goals and securing 91 points in the process. As well documented, Boro were denied promotion to the Football League due to Broadhall Way not meeting the correct standard in terms of amenities by the Football League deadline.
Woking pushed Boro all the way to the title that season, finishing second some 8 points behind Boro on 83 points.
The history website would like to thank Mark Doyle and David Holmes from the Woking Official Website for supplying the team sheet and their report from that day and our own Mervyn Stokes – Geddes for his continued help in the research of the ‘older’ games featured on this site.