Stevenage struck late to beat Northampton 2-1 at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon and keep up their momentum in the Sky Bet League 2 playoff race.
Graham Westley’s men had to do things the hard way, coming from a goal down at the break from Zander Diamond to strike twice in the second half. Chris Whelpdale headed Boro level past the hour and then sub Simon Walton expertly found the top corner with a placed finished in the 90th minute as the hosts recorded their first ever victory over the Cobblers.
Manager Graham Westley made three changes from the side that won at Cheltenham with Tom Pett, Chris Whelpdale and Tom Conlon restored to the starting XI and Bira Dembele named as captain. Ben Kennedy and Dave Martin missed out through injury and Simon Walton dropped to the bench, where he was joined by scholars Louis Yamfam and Dipo Akinyemi among others.
A fast start to the game saw chances for both teams in the opening minutes. A good first attack by Northampton saw Toney flick wide at the near post, whilst at the other end Matt Duke had to be alert to gather a Whelpdale cross with Beardsley closing in at speed.
The sides traded corners before Boro carved out a couple of decent openings as the ten minute mark approach. First Beardsley collected another Whelpdale cross and saw his own ball across the box evade everyone, before Dembele should have done better with a free-header from a Parrett free-kick which bounced wide.
Jason Taylor shot straight at Day and Lee fired over as the action continued at both ends before the game entered a rather scrappy phase where neither team enjoyed much sustained possession. It took until the 34th minute for Stevenage to register their best chance of the half when Northampton failed to clear a free-kick and Beardsley’s strike was turned behind in style by Matt Duke.
However for all of Stevenage’s early pressure it was the visitors who broke the deadlock in a rare foray forward on 38 minutes. Beardsley fouled his man inside the Boro half and when the resulting set play was fired low towards goal and took a slight deflection, the ball travelled through to Zander Diamond who slotted home back across Day into the far corner.
Chris Whelpdale saw a looping header clawed away by Duke at the start of the second half as Boro came out with renewed momentum, although in an end-to-end half Chris Day had to be alert to keep out a low Ivan Toney effort.
Boro continued their push forward with Pett, Parrett and Whelpdale constantly probing, looking for opportunities and Dembele going close to meeting a Conlon free-kick. However the hosts finally pulled level in the 65th minute mark when Parrett’s ball to the back post was met by Whelpdale and his header found the back of the net.
Tom Conlon was impressing many in midfield and superb play in a tight area from him and Chris Whelpdale inside the Cobblers box saw an inviting cross played to the back post for Pett, but it was well defended.
Parrett saw a shot deflected behind, sub Andrade curled a free-kick inches over and then blazed high and wide when dribbling into the box and cutting back onto his left foot, as the hosts piled on late pressure and it looked like being a frustrating afternoon for the home faithful.
Having kept Boro at bay for much of the half Northampton nearly stole the points two minutes from time when O’Toole curled at goal, only for Day to produce a top save and Wells be first to clear the loose ball.
Instead it was Stevenage who saved the best until last. Again it was Andrade on the counter on the right, but this time his cut-back to Walton saw the midfielder find the top corner with a composed finish to spark scenes of jubilation at The Lamex Stadium.
Ryan Cresswell’s second yellow saw the Cobblers go down to 10 late on as their playoff hopes look to have been extinguished. Stevenage, however, march on and with results going their way now have a three point gap from 8th placed Newport. With four games to go the momentum is with Boro, but next up is a stern test at home to Portsmouth on Tuesday, tickets for which can be bought here.
Stevenage: Day, Bond, Wells, Dembele, Okimo, Pett (Andrade 77), Parrett, Conlon, Whelpdale, Lee (Walton 86), Beardsley
Subs not used: Beasant, Walton, McAllister, Yamfam, Akinyemi
Northampton: Duke, Maloney, Horwood (Tozer 49), Collins, Gray (D’Ath 49), Diamond (O’Toole 70), Taylor, De Girolamo, Toney, Byrom, Cresswell
Subs not used: Jalal, Carter, Hackett, Perry
Referee: Peter Banks
Attendance: 3,378 (731 away)