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Wednesday, February 4, 1998 Published at 22:51 GMT

Sport: Football

Stevenage Borough's dream dies at St James' Park

The dream is dead. Stevenage Borough who rekindled the magic of the FA Cup with their home draw against Newcastle United are out of the competition.

The BBC's Mike Ingham with pundit Mark Lawrenson at St James' Park (1'53")
They went down 2-1 in the partisan atmosphere of St James' Park.

But it took the country's best striker Alan Shearer to kill off Stevenage with a goal in either half.

[ image: A desperate overhead kick cannot stop the ball from just crossing the line]
A desperate overhead kick cannot stop the ball from just crossing the line
After 180 minutes of football Stevenage Borough can return to the Vauxhall Conference league proud that they pushed multi-millionaires Newcastle to the limit.

Shearer, who scored Newcastle's only goal at Stevenage, opened the scoring again with a nod down from Alessandro Pistone's cross after 16 minutes.

The ball had only fractionally crossed the line when a bicycle kick clearance gave Stevenage hope, but the linesman was in no doubt, it was a goal.

[ image: Borough fans left St James' proud of their team]
Borough fans left St James' proud of their team
In the first leg Newcastle's early goal provided the impetus for Borough to push forward, scoring two disallowed goals before grabbing an equaliser.

At Newcastle it was a different story with United dominating the play although Borough goalkeeper Des Gallagher was rarely called on to make vital saves.

Five minutes after the goal Borough were still defending as Shearer met a low cross but he could only drive his shot into the packed Stevenage defence.

David Batty also tried from long range but, unlike his weekend winner against Aston Villa, his shot swerved wide.

Borough's best chance of the first-half came in the dying seconds when Dean Wordsworth's drive went just past the post.

At half-time Stevenage could still see a way through to a fifth-round tie against Tranmere Rovers.

Twenty minutes later the road to Wembley was sealed off to Stevenage.

[ image: Shearer scored all three Newcastle goals in the two games]
Shearer scored all three Newcastle goals in the two games
Rob Lee chipped in a cross, beautifully met by the diving Shearer to score his second, effectively killing off Stevenage; seconds earlier Lee had tested Gallagher with a blistering shot from outside the box.

The goal was just desserts for Newcastle who continued to pressure Borough. Two free kicks required diving saves from Gallagher, one to his left and one to his right, before Shearer netted the decisive goal.

Even then little Stevenage refused to lie down.

[ image: Gary Crawshaw celebrates his strike]
Gary Crawshaw celebrates his strike
On 75 minutes a dangerous cross into the Newcastle six yard box was met by birthday boy Gary Crawshaw, whose volley-on-the-turn beat Shaka Hislop.

The final minutes of the epic David v Goliath encounter were frantic but Newcastle mostly managed to confine Stevenage to their own half.

Ultimately Newcastle go through but Stevenage left St James' Park with their heads high having pushed their mighty rivals all the way.

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