Stevenage promoted to League One by beating Torquay

By Emlyn BegleyBBC Sport at Old Trafford

Stevenage secured back-to-back promotions to reach League One with victory over Torquay in the League Two play-off final.

John Mousinho scored the only goal, firing a powerful shot home from the edge of the box.

Stevenage dominated the first half at Old Trafford, with the lively Darius Charles heading over and wide.

Torquay improved after the break and Jake Robinson came close, hitting the bar from 20 yards.

The fact that the two teams were Blue Square Premier rivals two years ago demonstrated the ever-narrowing gap between the top non-league teams and the bottom tier of the Football League.

And Graham Westley's side, in their first season of being a league team following last season's promotion, repeated Exeter's feat of double promotions to the third tier in 2008 and 2009.

Stevenage, who dropped the Borough from their name last summer following their Blue Square Premier title win, could have taken the lead within four minutes.

Graham Westley

Craig Reid saw his shot blocked by a diving combination of Guy Branston and Damon Lathrope after a good cutback from Charles.

Charles, a defender by trade who was converted to a striker this season, was causing the Gulls defence all kinds of problems and another cutback gave Mousinho a chance but he fired into Scott Bevan's hands from 18 yards out.

And it was the former Ebbsfleet player's chance to have a go at goal next but his header from Ronnie Henry's cross went wide.

He had another chance but fired just over from the edge of the box after Bevan parried Lawrie Wilson's cross and Eunan O'Kane was caught in possession.

Stevenage, who had not beaten Torquay in six previous games, had a penalty claim when Chris Robertson appeared to shove Charles over in the box but referee Darren Deadman was not interested.

Torquay were struggling to create anything and it was telling that Billy Kee's shot from distance, which was high and wide, was probably their best chance in the opening 35 minutes.

And Stevenage captain Mark Roberts had to make a brilliant last-ditch tackle on Gavin Tomlin, who would have been through on goal.

Charles saw his towering header bounce off the ground and just over from Stacy Long's cross before Robinson saw a carbon copy of Kee's effort finish in a similar vein - nowhere near the target.

But the goal was coming for Stevenage and Mousinho picked the ball up 40 yards out from the net and charged towards goal before firing past Bevan from 20 yards out.

However, Torquay had a chance to level moments later as Ronnie Henry put Tomlin's cross out for a corner with Zebroski lurking just behind him and from Kevin Nicholson's corner, Branston headed just over.

Buckle in no rush to decide future

Chris Zebroski had Torquay's final two chances of the first half, curling well wide from inside the box and then squandering a good opportunity to shoot by trying to get the ball onto his right foot and seeing the ball deflected out for a goal kick.

Torquay boss Paul Buckle would have been glad to get his side in for half-time and they looked more purposeful in the second half.

Robinson shot an effort wide, then got the ball stuck in his feet and lost possession when he was in a good position.

Kee had a major chance for the Gulls when he was put through on goal by Nicholson's incisive long ball but Chris Day was able to make a comfortable save from his disappointing shot.

Kee then had another chance when Tomlin's ball was blocked in the box but he was inches away from making connection with the ball just six yards out.

Stevenage manager Graham Westley celebrates with the trophy
Stevenage manager Graham Westley celebrates with the trophy

Charles, who was not as influential after the break as he had been in the first half, could have killed the game off but his first touch was terrible after being found in acres of space and Bevan kept out his shot after he did well to keep his chance alive.

Roberts made another brilliant saving tackle when Zebroski was set to pull the trigger, although minutes later the striker hit the side-netting after the same centre-back lost possession.

Robinson forced a save from Day after being picked out by Tomlin but Wilson could have doubled Boro's lead soon afterwards, however he headed wide.

And next came Torquay's closest effort, Robinson's drive skimming the woodwork from just outside the area.

Branston had a good double chance for the Gulls, first seeing his effort blocked by Charles and then blazing the follow-up over the bar.

The Gulls never really had another chance as Stevenage, who were struggling in 17th in mid-January, saw it out for a famous double promotion.

And Torquay will be left nervously waiting on the future of manager Buckle, who has refused to rule out taking over managerless Bristol Rovers, and will make a decision on Monday.

Live text commentaryexternal-link