Stevenage took a two goal lead against Northampton but lost to the odd goal in five as the league leaders showed promotion credentials at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon.
A double from Luke Wilkinson had put Boro in a commanding position but James Collins halved the deficit before the break. Jon-Joe O’Toole stabbed home from a corner five minutes after the break to draw the scores level and the game looked to be heading to a draw until Ricky Holmes won it in stoppage time with a stunning strike.
Darren Sarll made four changes from the side that lost at Wycombe with Dale Gorman, Luke Wilkinson, Greg Luer and Byron Harrison coming with. Dean Wells and Ronnie Henry missed out with knocks so Fraser Franks partnered Luke Wilkinson at
centre-back and Gorman filled in at right-back.
Flying high at the top of the league, Northampton came out with confidence and dominated the opening exchanges but it was Stevenage who took the lead after 10 minutes after winning a succession of corners. Dean Parrett swung the ball in and Luke Wilkinson rose highest to bury a header past Adam Smith to put Boro 1-0 up.
The hosts continued to battle well and scored a second on the half-hour. Parrett won a free-kick from Jon-Joe O’Toole and when he lofted the ball into the box, Wilkinson again rose highest, beating Smith to the ball again to double Stevenage’s advantage.
Two very nearly became three when Parrett set his sights from 25 yards, after good work by Okimo and Harrison, but the midfielder fired over.
Five minutes before the break the Cobblers got back in the game although Boro will be disappointed not to have stayed alert. Dale Gorman was penalised for a foul out wide and from Joel Byrom’s quick free-kick, James Collins buried a near post header unchallenged to halve the deficit.
Michael Tonge volleyed over from 20 yards and John Marquis side-footed wide at the second attempt for Northampton as chances came and went for both sides, but it was Boro who went in with a goal advantage.
However five minutes into the second half Town drew level. Again it was the left-foot of Joel Byrom creating, swinging in a corner which O’Toole stabbed home from close range to send the capacity away crowd wild.
The game continued with both sides pushing forward and winning corners, however both defences stood strong as the game looked to be heading for a draw.
But with 12 minutes remaining Stevenage were dealt a major blow when they were reduced to 10 men. Sub Sam Hoskins wriggled through the Boro defence but went down under a challenge from last man Fraser Franks, who was shown a straight red from referee Webb.
Despite that man disadvantage Boro went close to grabbing all three points on 81 minutes when Greg Luer wriggled through and forced Smith into two saves in a matter of seconds.
James Collins scooped over from 12 yards and Ricky Holmes volleyed at Jones from 25 yards as the visitors pressed for a late winner which came, heartbreakingly, in the final seconds of injury time when Holmes curled home spectacularly to spark wild scenes of joy for the Cobblers.
Next up for Stevenage is a tricky trip to Oxford United. Tickets can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk">www.borotickets.co.uk.
Stevenage: Jones, Gorman, Wilkinson, Franks, Ogilvie, Cox, Tonge, Parrett, Kennedy (Johnson 79), Luer (Conlon 90), Harrison
Subs not used: Day, Hedges, Whelpdale, Pett, Marriott
Northampton: Smith, Maloney, Diamond, Byrom, Adams (D’Ath 60), Holmes (Taylor 90), Buchanan, Collins, O’Toole, Prosser, Marquis (Hoskins 51)
Subs not used: Clarke, McDonald, Rose, Martin
Referee: David Webb
Attendance: 3,902 (1,362 away)