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Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Saturday, 28 May 2011 14:30 UK

League Two play-off final as it happened

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times BST)

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By Sam Lyon

1720: And as Stevenage skipper Mark Roberts lifts the play-off trophy high above his head to spark wild scenes of celebration at Old Trafford, I'll bid you a brief adieu... Join me, Sam Lyon, in a little while when I take over our Champions League Final commentary for the rest of the evening... but in the mean-time hop on over with Jonathan Stevenson as he continues the pre-match chat. From Stevenage-Torquay to Barcelona-Man Utd? Best. Job. Ever.

1719: L2 P/O FINAL: STEVENAGE 1-0 TORQUAY
BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford:
"Love 'em or loathe them, Stevenage will play League One football next season. They have been excellent throughout the play-offs, showing a resolve and determination that Accrington and Torquay have been unable to counter. They are flying up the leagues faster that Stevenage-born Lewis Hamilton gets round a circuit in his racing car."

1718: A final thought from our man at Old Trafford, then...

Tom and Richard via text: "Well done Stevenage! Makes the six-and-a-half hour car journey by Tom and Richard Fennelly from Ware worth it!"

Stevenage manager Graham Westley: "What am I feeling? Elation. We had a wobbly start to the season, we were 18th in January, but the boys have been unbelievable. It's been a long, hard season and we've earned our holiday I tell you. The secret to success in any form of life is hard work and we've done that, put in the work, and we've reaped our rewards. Every winning moment in football is a brilliant feeling... and this is another one. I'm so proud of the boys."

Match-winner John Mousinho: "Unbelievable. It's incredible to be here at Old Trafford and to win through as well. From where we've come, to win back-to-back promotions is incredible. It was a long, long second half - Torquay have us problems - but we came through it. We get some stick for our play sometimes but I thought we were fantastic today."

1712: It wasn't always pretty, then, but few can argue Stevenage deserve to go up for their performances in these play-off games - capped with another excellent display today. Commiserations to Torquay... but there's has been a fine season, too, no doubt about that. Here's what the key men have to say about it all...

Full time
1708: FULL-TIME Stevenage 1-0 Torquay
STEVENAGE ARE PROMOTED TO LEAGUE ONE

1707: Danny Stevens... charging into the Stevenage box... his shot is blocked... Torquay's worst fears deepen...

1705: I won't lie, Torquay fans, your team looks shot here. Two minutes to produce something... anything...

1704: Four minutes of injury time signalled...

1703: We're into the last minute of normal time... and no great shakes going forward from Torquay. As yet.

1702: More tense than a Glastonbury field, this. And I'm a neutral.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Stevenage makeshift forward Darius Charles is subbed. He is quite rightly given a huge round of applause. 100% for effort."

1700: Five minutes of normal time remaining... have Torquay got one last surge in the bank?

1659: And now a third and final Stevenage change - Chris Beardsley on for the impressive Darius Charles.

1658: Double Torquay change - Danny Stevens and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner on, Jake Robinson and Kevin Nicholson off.

1656: ...and Guy Branston, you have to do better there son. The ball drops to the Torquay defender, twice, but his first effort is blocked and his second - 12 yards out with the ball falling nicely on his right foot - is blazed over.

1656: Corner to Torquay...

Yellow card
1653: And his impact is immediate... on the referee's notebook, Joe Oastler booked for a cynical scythe at Stevenage's Byron Harrison.

1652: Torquay substitution... Joe Oastler, on loan from QPR, on for Damon Lathrope.

Someone has struck the woodwork
1650: As it is, Stevenage's promotion is far from certain despite their lead - and Jake Robinson shows why, the winger firing a superb dipping effort at goal that beats keeper Chris Day but not the crossbar. So close.

1649: ...what a miss! Darren Murphy, completely unmarked six yards out and with just the keeper to beat, contrives to head the corner wide on the run. Anything like a decent connection on that and Stevenage were as good as in League One...

1648: Here come Stevenage in attack, though... and they earn themselves a corner...

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "League Two play-off final attendance - 11,484."

1647: Nervy times, these, and a Stevenage defender's poor back-header gives Chris Zebroski a glimpse at goal - only for the Torquay man to blaze over. Waste.

1643: Swift counter-attack, Stevenage far too open, and the boys in red and white are grateful to a fine low save from Chris Day, the keeper getting down well to keep out Jake Robinson's side-footed 18-yard shot. Nearing the last 20 minutes and Torquay building a head of steam again...

1641: Oof! Some Torquay fans think that's in. It's not, though, Chris Zebroski pouncing on a poor Mark Roberts touch and slamming into the side-netting of the Stevenage goal on the stretch. Near miss.

1637: A rare Stevenage attack in this half as Darius Charles works some space well in the Torquay box before firing at goal, Gulls stopper Scott Bevan down to save the striker's low shot easily.

1635: Enforced change for Stevenage, now - Byron Harrison on for the injured Craig Reid, who limps away from the action with what looks a hamstring strain.

Yellow card
1633: Bit soft, this one, as referee Darren Deadman punishes what he perceives as time-wasting on the part of John Mousinho, the Stevenage goalscorer earning his way into the official's notebook.

1632: I've just realised, I relocated this match temporarily to Wembley at 1620 didn't I? What a muppet. Refresh please, folks, and all will be right in the world again.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Stevenage appear to have absorbed Torquay's strong start to the half. The Stevenage fans are in fine voice and bouncing up and down. Why not, their team are roughly half an hour from back-to-back promotions."

1631: To continue a minute of 'firsts', we have our first substitution - Darren Murphy on for Joel Byrom for Stevenage.

Yellow card
1628: The game's first booking - and it's a deserved one if you ask me. Chris Zebroski having his name taken for a clumsy, unnecessary foul on Stevenage defender Mark Roberts.

It's sunny
1627: Hold the phone, the sun is shining at Old Trafford! That may come as some relief for our intrepid (and coatless) reporter Paul Fletcher. But who will be feeling the heat come full-time, though, that's the question.

1625: Deary me... the left leg really is for standing on and nothing more, isn't it Billy Kee? The Torquay midfielder is set through one-on-one by Kevin Nicholson's fine ball over the Stevenage defence, but after a couple of touches he can only swing his left peg at the ball and his tame effort is easily scrambled around the post by Stevenage keeper Chris Day. Let-off for Stevenage.

1623: Fine defending. Ronnie Henry has to be right on his toes to prevent Jake Robinson breaking in behind the Stevenage defence, timing his intervention perfectly to halt the Torquay winger's surge.

1622: And something resembling a rocket has obviously been secreted into the Torquay players' pants at half-time for it is the boys in yellow who have started with fire in their bellies in this half. Jake Robinson and Gavin Tomlin already causing problems among the Stevenage defenders...

1620: Back up and running at Old Trafford... Stevenage 1-0 Torquay.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Yep, I asked for quality and John Mousinho delivered. A goal worthy of any final. If there is one like that later tonight we'll hear all about it."

Russell Martin via text: "RE: Baz - as a Torquay fan the feelings mutual, there's no Premier League side in the whole of the west country!"

1615: Right then you lot, as if any of you need reminding I'm sure but there's something resembling a rather important football match happening this evening as well. Yep, it's the Champions League Final, it's Manchester United and it's Barcelona. Basically... it don't get no bigger, my friends. Your friend and mine Jonathan Stevenson is already in 'da (Wembley) house' giving you all your pre-match chat, so why not take the chance while it's half-time to see what the blooming heck he's gabbing on about, yes? Bless him, it's his last match-day commentary at the BBC too so send him off with a bang will you, before I - Sam Lyon - take over for match duties later on after this League Two Play-Off Final is done. Happy, happy days.

jonbarbuti on Twitter: "Stevenage v Torquay should be at Wembley as a B attraction ahead of Man Utd - Barca - like the Wicker Man before Don't Look Now."

Baz via text: "There has been such a buzz about the town of Stevenage this season, a real passion for football coming to the fore. We've got no Premier League clubs near, so we need our teams to get as high as possible! Come on Stevenage!"

Half time
1605: HALF-TIME Stevenage 1-0 Torquay
Paul Fletcher's HT snap-shot:
"Could John Mousinho's goal open up a cagey contest? Hope so. Stevenage have been the better side and just about deserve their lead but it has been a largely disappointing final so far."

1602: And it flies by in what many would describe as 60 of your play-off final seconds. Half-time.

1601: We'll have one minute of added time in this first half at Old Trafford.

1600: Stevenage, by the way, have not lost a single game this season in which they have scored first. Work for Torquay to do, then.

1559: Almost an immediate reply from Torquay, Guy Branston rising to meet a corner and heading only inches wide unmarked. Big chance.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Stevenage goal: Deadlock broken... and how. Darius Charles again does well to hold the ball up and he feeds John Mousinho bursting from midfield, who takes a touch before drilling an unstoppable shot into the corner from 20 yards. Super strike - advantage Stevenage.

1557: GOALFLASH Stevenage 1-0 Torquay (Mousinho)

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Come on League Two final, lets show the watching world what we've got. A few chances and moments of skill and flair, please."

1555: Starting to open up this game, now. I like it.

1553: And now a chance at the other end, Darius Charles rising to meet Stacy Long's cross and heading into the ground and over the bar with Torquay keeper Scott Bevan stretched. Close.

1552: Crunch. Torquay again and Eunan O'Kane looks to have set Gavin Tomlin clear in the box - only for Stevenage skipper Mark Roberts to pull off an inch-perfect tackle to clear the danger. Cracking challenge.

1551: Occasionally, this half, Torquay have shown a glimpse of what they might be capable of given a bit of time and space - and Gavin Tomlin has just done so here, the Gulls striker twisting and turning his way down the left before firing a low cross that is well cleared on the stretch six yards out by the Stevenage defence. The corner comes to nothing, however.

1548: Stevenage free-kick... 20 yards out... curled lazily into the arms of Torquay keeper Scott Bevan, who could have thrown his hat on it had he been wearing one, except that he isn't.

1546: I tell you what, there might have been something in that... Darius Charles appears to fling himself theatrically to ground in the Torquay area, optimistically looking for a penalty - only for replays to suggest he received a rather unsubtle shove in the back from Gulls defender Kevin Nicholson. Hhmm. Craig Reid follows up with a low shot that is easily held low down by Scott Bevan in the Torquay goal.

1544: Fine break from Stevenage's Lawrie Wilson and when his cross is flapped at by Torquay keeper Scott Bevan, it affords Darius Charles a pot-shot at goal - only for his effort to fly over the bar. Let-off for the Gulls.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Very blustery here, but that will probably not worry the Torquay fan wearing a heavily padded spiderman outfit who shared the same tram as me on the way to the stadium. The Gulls fans have been rather quiet. I suspect they need something from their team to bring them to life."

1540: Couple of decent breaks down the left from Jake Robinson - who looks Torquay's best bet going forward so far - but twice the winger's crosses fail to find their target.

1537: Bit more even in the last few minutes, but no great inspiration on show from either side just yet. Plenty of sweat and effort, mind. Sweat and effort - sounds like a bad 80s pop combo doesn't it?

1534: Rare Torquay attack, Jake Robinson crossing into the box, Stevenage keeper Chris Day claiming easily.

1532: Third of the way through the first half and Stevenage still bossing things at Old Trafford, refusing to allow Torquay time and space to get their passing game going at all.

1529: ...erm, no. In fact, Stevenage's short corner routine to Michael Bostwick is so easily cleared by Torquay you wonder why any commentator worth his salt would've attempted any kind of build-up to the set piece itself in any way, shape or form.

1528: First corner of the game... Stevenage striker Darius Charles again at the forefront... can the boys in red and white take advantage...?

1525: Stevenage stride back upfield in reply and Darius Charles - who has enjoyed a very encouraging opening - does well to get the better of Guy Branston and cut back for the onrushing John Mousinho, whose low shot from the edge of the area is held by Gulls keeper Scott Bevan.

1524: That's a bit better though as Billy Kee and then Lee Mansell fire snap-shots at the Stevenage goal from inside the area, Mark Roberts doing his bit in his own area this time to clear the Torquay attack.

1523: Little doubt that it's Stevenage that have settled the quicker at Old Trafford and Paul Buckle is already omnipresent on the sidelines barking orders at his troops. Not happy with this start, the Torquay boss.

1521: Chance! And brilliant defending by Guy Branston, who gets Torquay out of a right pickle. Ahem. The defender lays his body on the line to excellently block Craig Reid's 12-yard shot from Darius Charles's clever cut-back from the byeline. Fine early opening for Stevenage.

1518: Stevenage on the front foot in the first couple of minutes, Stacy Long and Scott Laird getting some early joy down Torquay's right hand side.

Whistle
1516: Here we go then, 16 minutes late... we're up and running, Stevenage v Torquay.

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Believe it or not, the stadium has filled up considerably over the last 15 minutes. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of empty seats, but there are enough fans here now to make some noise. Torquay fans chanting 'United' - that has been heard in here a few times down the years."

1514: Anyway, kick-off is moments away and for one of these teams, destiny awaits. Where's ya money?

1512: I'm only jesting of course. I very rarely stand for the National Anthem these days. I mean, it's a bit... rubbish isn't it? Now 'La Marseillaise' - that's a National Anthem.

1511: National Anthem time. Meaning, of course, I'm writing this standing up. If you're reading this sat down... how very dare you, you heathens.

Stevenage captain Mark Roberts: "Back in July this squad began our journey together with the dream of promotion to League One. It is apt, then, that on Saturday at the 'Theatre of Dreams' we can make that happen."

Torquay defender Guy Branston: "Stevenage are a big, big club and the pressure is on them. We are a raggedy bunch of lads who are put together on a shoestring and the undervalued lot of the division. They will be more nervous."

junster333 on Twitter: "Cambridge Utd fan here. Dunno who to root for. Torquay, who promoted at our expense, or our arch rivals? I will go for Andy Murray!"

1506: Very much a case of pick-your-seat at Old Trafford with plenty of red and white on show thanks to those delays on the M6. Saying that, it's far from a sell-out today - as you might expect at a 75,000-seater stadium - so it'll be interesting to hear what sort of noise these boys can produce. I'm tipping... cacophony.

1501: How the blazes did these teams get this far then, I hear very few of you ask. Well, Stevenage - promoted into the Football League for the first time last season - surged up the table having been in the bottom half of League Two around Christmas to finish sixth and earn themselves a play-off place, going on to beat Accrington 3-0 on aggregate in their semi-final. Torquay, meanwhile, squeezed into the play-off places on goal difference ahead of Gillingham and made the most of their good fortune with a surprise 2-0 aggregate win over Shrewsbury. It's the final few expected, I would suggest, but isn't that why we love the play-offs folks?

BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford: "Why oh why oh why did I not bring a warmer coat? When will I ever learn? This is the north, I was raised here, I should know better."

Anon via text: "As an Aldershot fan who witnessed Stevenage's dirty tactics first hand, I really want Torquay to win. They've done tremendously well this season and deserve it so much more. Come on the Gulls!"

1455: L2 P/O Final: STEVENAGE v TORQUAY (1515)
BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford:
"So Stevenage make one change from the team that defeated Accrington in the second leg of their play-off semi final, with Darren Murphy making way as John Mousinho returns from suspension in the middle of midfield. Jake Robinson is fit for Torquay, so the Gulls are unchanged from the XI that played in both legs of their semi-final victory over Shrewsbury."

footyatjoshilan on Twitter: "Both sides have done brilliantly to get to Old Trafford but I think that whatever team goes up will struggle in League One."

1451: L2 P/O Final: STEVENAGE v TORQUAY (1515)
Stevenage:
Day, Henry, Bostwick, Roberts, Laird, Wilson, Byrom, Mousinho, Long, Charles, Reid. Subs: Welch, Ashton, Murphy, May, Winn, Beardsley, Harrison.
Torquay: Bevan, Nicholson, Branston, Robertson, Mansell, Robinson, O'Kane, Lathrope, Kee, Zebroski, Tomlin. Subs: Potter, Rowe-Turner, Ellis, Macklin, Halpin, Oastler, Stevens.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)

GavJB on Twitter: "Very excited Sam, this is the game I've been looking forward to all week! Come on you Gulls! (Gutted I couldn't get tickets)."

Rob, London via text: "As a Barnet fan, I'm torn between our Hertfordshire rivals and the side who sent us out of the Football League in 2001. Backing the Gulls to win it though."

1447: L2 P/O Final: STEVENAGE v TORQUAY (1515)
BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher at Old Trafford:
"Really not many people here at all for the final. Apparently in the region of 12,000 people are expected but quite a few of them are struggling to get here, with plenty of talk that more than 20 coaches full of supporters are stuck behind a major crash on the M6 - hence the kick-off delay. Given that both Stevenage and Torquay fans are travelling a long way to Manchester, that would be a real shame."

1444: Now then, you know who we've got in situ at Old Trafford don't you? Only the legend that is Paul Fletcher, that's all. And now seems as good a time as any to hear from him don't you think...?

Ben, London via text: "Regardless of who wins the play-off, Stevenage have had a great season in League Two and I would like to hope that they could repeat the level of form in League One. However at this time I think it could be too much - don't want them doing a Rushden and Diamonds!"

1440: KICK-OFF NEWS: Kick-off delayed by 15 minutes

BlackWhiteGreen on Twitter: "Most anticipated match of all time - Stevenage v Torquay. Both deserve plenty of respect."

1435: The answer... nothing. That's what's not to love; nothing. So basically you lot have no excuse not to get involved. Same drill as always; Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text me via 81111 (UK). Bosh.

1433: Yep, in a few hours all eyes will be on Wembley and the stand-out showpiece that is Barcelona v Manchester United - but, for now, it's Stevenage and Torquay's chance to bask in the sunlight of attempted glory. Huge match, tonnes at stake, what's not to love?

1430: Just two years ago, Stevenage and Torquay were rivals in the Blue Square Premier division. Today, one of them will be promoted to the heady heights of League One. For Stevenage, it would be the biggest achievement in the club's history to date - for Torquay, a first appearance at that level since 2005. Fairytale ascensions in anyone's book, right? Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the League Two Play-Off Final. Who needs the Champions League Final?



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28 May 2011 23:59 UK


see also
League Two play-off photos
28 May 11 |  Football


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