Shrewsbury Town 3 Stevenage Borough 1

Last updated : 17 April 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Shrewsbury Town finally secured their Conference play-off spot, scoring a 3-1 home win over visiting Stevenage Borough.

During the last month Jimmy Quinn's men have hit an indifferent run of form that has seen them concede any hope of lifting the Conference title - but this hard fought, if sometimes disjointed, victory ensured their place in the end of season shake-up.

After an untidy first half from which neither team emerged with much credit, Shrewsbury eventually broke through on 66 minutes when centre-back David Ridler headed home from close range - and three minutes later the lead was extended as substitute Ryan Lowe tapped in from two yards.

But after conceding two late goals to Exeter City a fortnight ago - who then left Gay Meadow with an unlikely point - the home fans were made to feel anxious when Stevenage pulled one back through substitute Lee Barnard with ten minutes left.

All those fears were allayed however, when Duane Darby netted in injury time to put the issue beyond all doubt.

Despite holding Conference leaders Chester to a draw earlier in the week, it had been over a month since Shrewsbury had won a home match - and they may have had their work cut out to win this one, had Stevenage been able to finish some neat approach work.

The visitors also found Shrewsbury goalkeeper Scott Howie in fine form and an excellent reflex save to thwart Mark Smith's flying 20th minute header, was the highlight of an otherwise low-key first half.

But with Ridler's second goal of the campaign, Shrewsbury made the breakthrough - and when Lowe was on hand to score his ninth this term, victory looked assured.

In the three minutes between Shrewsbury's goals, Stevenage missed a gilt-edged chance to level when Dino Maamria somehow headed wide from four yards - but Barnard made no such mistake when he forced the ball home following a goalmouth scramble.

But any hopes of Stevenage snatching a draw were dashed when Darby broke clear to score his eighth of the season in injury time.