Stevenage Borough 2-1 Woking: In the mid-90s, no non-league rivalry compared to Boro' and Woking. And this FA Trophy semi-final showdown was set up nicely...

Good Game: The series looking at the amazing, utterly memorable, unbelievably dramatic and downright ludicrous games that involved Stevenage Borough over the years. But we’ll insist that we accept no blame for memories warped by time, age or alcohol consumption at the time. We’ll never refer to any games involving Macclesfield Town either – particularly any at Broadhall Way. Those sort of things never happened, dontcha know…

Stevenage Borough 2-1 Woking (AET, 2-2 on aggregate)

Broadhall Way, Stevenage — 12 April 1997 — FA Trophy Semi-Final (Second Leg)

In the mid-90s, no non-league rivalry compared to Boro’ and Woking. And this FA Trophy semi-final showdown was set up nicely; the Cards coming out on top in the first leg at Kingfield by a single goal. And they were somewhat fortunate to keep hold of that advantage. Robin Taylor’s 33-second goal was probably as good as it got for Geoff Chapple’s men that afternoon. Yet, the bottom line was that we came back to Broadhall Way needing to win by two clear goals.

This FA Trophy semi-final showdown was set up nicely; the Cards coming out on top in the first leg at Kingfield by a single goal
Photo: Stevenage Football Archive

That’s because, for some unknown reason, matters couldn’t be settled on the day if the score was still level on aggregate. So, by two clear goals, we were looking at winning this semi-final outright – rather than facing the prospect of a replay. It begs the question why there’d still be extra time. But, whatever. For us, the FA Trophy was the last realistic chance we had of taking home some silverware in the 1996-7 campaign. Our title defence was starting to fizzle out.

Stevenage Borough 2-1 Woking: The Match Action

Just as it happened at Kingfield, an early goal set the pace for this fixture. Thankfully, that was delivered by Barry Hayles seconds into the match. The fans barely had time to settle in on this  glorious, sunny afternoon before Bazza put us in front on the day (and level on aggregate). One jubilant fan stood next to a much younger BoroGuide editor at the north end of the East Terrace took his celebration to the other side of the perimeter fence.

Steady on chap. There’s 89 minutes still to go and one more goal needed.

Again, like the tie at Kingfield, it all settled down after that. Boro’ steadied themselves after that initial jolt of euphoria. Woking, meanwhile, remembered what was going on and looked to push back. In our league meetings, the result was usually comprehensive (and usually in their favour). But this was a much cagier affair. The prize was an appearance at Wembley Stadium; something we’d never managed. The Cards? Well, they’d won the FA Trophy in 1994 and 1995…

Extra time, no penalties…

There was nothing to separate us as we reached the 90th minute. Extra time, then, loomed. And it was the Cards who came out the brightest; Darran Hay firing home after rolling Efe Sodje. The goal gave our guests a renewed sense of confidence and matters, it seemed, were settled. Boro’ had reached the end of the road and the Wembley visit was Woking’s to be had. Except, not. We had some late drama coming our way; the pendulum swinging back in our favour.

With Laurence Batty off his line and not the most agile, Crawshaw sent a high lob over his head from just inside the box. It landed true in the back of the net.

A hopeful ball over the top found Gary Crawshaw in behind the Woking defence. With Laurence Batty off his line and not the most agile, Crawshaw sent a high lob over his head from just inside the box. It landed true in the back of the net. Our Trophy hopes were alive once more. The score was all square on aggregate, and we’d got in there just in time. The only negative (as mentioned) was the need to trundle down to Watford for a replay four days later.

We still had to squeeze in a home Conference match against Farnborough before then!

Stevenage Borough 2-1 Woking: What happened next?

The tie went to Vicarage Road and Woking showed how streetwise they were in the FA Trophy. In going two goals ahead, the Cards put enough of a gap between us and them on the evening that meant Jason Soloman‘s late goal wasn’t enough for us. They went through to the final, where a single goal was enough to sink Dagenham & Redbridge. It was their third Trophy success in four seasons. We, meanwhile, ended the season empty-handed and a stunning era was about to end.

• Watch the goals from the 1996-7 FA Trophy semi-finals here.

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