Stevenage 3 Bury 0
by Hannah Ingram at the Lamex Stadium
Bury were overcome by a Stevenage side intent on claiming the final League One play-off place in their final match of the season, but a controversial penalty seemed to be the tipping point.
The home side took the lead after 24 minutes thanks to a close range shot from Craig Reid, but a penalty for Joel Byrom on 76 minutes - which was initially waved away by the referee before his assistant changed his mind - made a comeback unlikely from the Shakers.
A third goal from Chris Beardsley at the death cemented Stevenage's place in the play-off lottery and saw Bury's four-game unbeaten run come to an end.
Luke Freeman managed to shrug off four Bury players on his way into the box on 9 minutes, but a final touch from Efe Sodje made sure he went no further.
A foul on Giles Coke saw Bury awarded a free kick on 13 minutes - Steven Schumacher stepped up to power the ball from 35 yards but it flew just wide of the right post.
Coke turned on a sixpence in the centre circle on 20 minutes before taking the ball forward. He tok a shot from just outside the box but the ball rolled wide of the left post.
GOAL! It was advantage Stevenage on 24 minutes with a goal for Craig Reid - a cross from the left was headed away from the near post by Sodje but only as far as Reid who buried from close range.
Stevenage 1 Bury 0
A heavy tackle from Michael Bostwick on Schumacher on 28 minutes saw the Bury captain flattened. The referee played on and the ball was passed to Mike Grella on the left of the box by Coke, but the American curled it wide.
A corner from Peter Sweeney on 31 minutes found Schumacher on the edge of the box, but his blasted shot took a deflected header from Mark Roberts to send it over the bar.
The resulting corner fell to Schumacher again, positioned just inside the box, but hitting it on the volley saw the ball swerve wide.
Stevenage's first corner arrived on 36 minutes - curled into the box by Joel Byrom, Jamaal Lascelles got up well only to head the ball wide.
Another corner followed soon after, with Luke Freeman sending the ball to Bostwick just outside the box from the right. He sent a cutting ball to Lascelles in front of goal, but his chipped effort went well over the bar.
Freeman paced clear on 40 minutes as the referee played on from a Bury foul - he shot low from the left of the box but a well-placed Jonathan Bond kept the deficit at one.
One minute of added time was soon over as Bury aimed to keep possession and regroup at the break. They needed to fly out of the traps and catch Stevenage on the break to take anything from their final match of the season, especially with so much riding on it for the home side.
Half time - Stevenage 1 Bury 0
Freeman latched onto a nippy cross from Reid on the right on 50 minutes - a ball which caused Andrai Jones to slip onto the deck as he tracked it - but Freeman put his shot went wide of the far post.
Stevenage substitution on 57 minutes - Craig Reid replaced by Robin Shroot
Byrom continued to play his part for Stevenage, curling a cross-come-shot against the bar on 60 minutes, before sending in two corners in as many minutes. Both times, he found Scott Laird diving at the near post, trying to dink his header past Bond in the Bury net. The Shakers remained resolute both times, clearing their lines and taking the ball away from danger.
Bury substitution on 61 minutes - Mike Grella replaced by Lenell John-Lewis
Lawrie Wilson looked set to score on 63 minutes with a stunning drive from the right after he made space for himself while Joe Skarz stepped away. Bond managed to tip the ball over the bar at what seemed like the very last second.
Bury substitution on 65 minutes - Giles Coke replaced by Mark Carrington
Stevenage yellow card on 69 minutes -Scott Laird
An inswinging corner from Schumacher on 70 minutes found the head of John-Lewis in front of goal, but the Stevenage players surrounding him didn't give him the time to get any direction on it.
Bury substitution on 71 minutes - Shaun Harrad replaced by Lateef Elford-Alliyu
Bury yellow card on 73 minutes -Efe Sodje
GOAL! The home side doubled their lead on 76 minutes with a controversial penalty for Byrom. A tackle from Sodje in the box saw the referee wave away any appeals, but the linesman on the right flagged it up as a penalty, prompting the referee to change his mind. Byrom stepped up to send Bond the wrong way and as good as cement Stevenage's place in the play offs ahead of Notts County" target="_blank">Notts County.
Stevenage 2 Bury 0
Stevenage substitution on 79 minutes - Joel Byrom replaced by John Mousinho
Stevenage substitution on 81 minutes - Patrick Agyemang replaced by Chris Beardsley
Lenell John-Lewis wasted a great chance to claw a goal back for Bury with just over five minutes left to play. Schumahcer passed out wide to Lateef Elford-Alliyu on the left who passed back to John-Lewis just inside the box, but he blasted it just over the bar.
Bury yellow card on 85 minutes - Nathan Clarke
GOAL! Stevenage made it three just as normal time ticked into extra - a fine counter attack started by Robin Shroot saw him take the ball from Schumacher and run forward before crossing to Chris Beardsley on the left of the box who finished with style despite Bond getting a hand to it.
Stevenage 3 Bury 0
Added time was soon over and Stevenage were celebrating claiming the final play-off spot. Bury were ultimately outplayed by a side who needed the win more than them, but the Shakers will be glad to see this rollercoaster season at an end.
Full time - Stevenage 3 Bury 0
Attendance - 4,781