As it happened: Cheltenham Town 0-3 Northampton Town (2-3 agg)
Cheltenham won the first leg 2-0. Photo: Adam Millington/VAVEL UK

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s it from us tonight as Northampton pull off a remarkable and fully deserved comeback. The full match report will follow on VAVEL.com soon, and be sure to join us for coverage of the play-off final between Exeter and Northampton next Monday. If it has half the drama that tonight has had, it should be a cracker!

FULL-TIME: Cheltenham 0-3 Northampton

Incredible. Cheltenham arrived tonight with a stunning defensive record, a remarkable home record and a 2-0 lead from the first leg. Northampton had little but hope - yet they’ve done the improbable.

They were dominant right from the off. Oliver gave them the all-important early goal, and Morton’s double in the second half - the winner from a terrible defensive error - means they will face Exeter in the play-off final.

90+7’ Another Tozer throw, again it’s Arnold’s.

90+7’ Throw for Cheltenham in the final minute... Arnold punches clear...

90+6’ The Northampton box comes under pressure but Morton is back in defence to win the ball and the foul - outstanding again from him.

90+4’ Yellow card for the current match-winner Morton.  

90+2’ Hoskins finds Morton in the box and he takes his time to compose himself, yet still puts it over the bar. 

90’ A chance falls to May but he’s curled it just over the crossbar. There’s still time for Cheltenham though - there are SEVEN minutes!

88’ Smith is caught in the face by Boyle while Wharton is down elsewhere as things get competitive in the final minutes.

87’ Addai crosses and it runs to May at the back post, but he can’t guide the ball under the bar.

85’ Ince with a strike on target, Turnbull is in the right place to block it. Another Northampton change sees Adams now come off, replaced on the left by Martin.

84’ Northampton take their time with the latest change, which sees Smith take the place of Oliver.

83’ It could have been over! Wharton blocks a cross from Addai for a Cheltenham corner but from it the visitors counter, Hoskins releases Morton who sprints in only to be denied his hat-trick by Evans.

81’ Another sub for the hosts, striker Nichols replaces defender Raglan.

80’ The resulting free kick is struck a mile over by Hussey. What do Cheltenham have left?

79’ Sub Olayinka is booked for a foul on May.

GOAL! Cheltenham 0-3 Northampton

77’ Big goal! Big mix-up! Boyle and Evans leave a loose ball for each other and Harriman pounces, with his shot hitting the keeeper and then the post. Morton races to the rebound first and scores!

75’ Cheltenham with a rare spell in attack, Tozer can lob a throw but Northampton clear and Morton brilliantly wins a throw down the other end.

71’ Time for the second-half drinks break.

70’ Cheltenham have some possession down the left but Hussey’s cross comes to nothing. The away side make their first sub, replacing McCormack with Olayinka.

69’ Watson hammers a shot towards goal and Northampton claim it was blocked with a hand, but nothing given. 

68’ Morton chases a lost cause of a ball into the corner, gets there first and wins the free kick. He’s been terrific up front too tonight.

66’ Goode launches another frightening throw into the box and Morton is an inch from latching onto it, but Northampton have another corner.

65’ The confidence is flowing through Northampton right now. Something needs to change for Cheltenham because only one team look like winning right now.

63’ Goode finds Morton with a long ball, it’s well brought down before the cross is blocked. Oliver can’t quite win the next ball that comes in.

62’ Double change for Cheltenham as Doyle-Hayes and Broom are replaced by Ince and Addai.

60’ Northampton’s three centre-backs form a train at the corner before making their runs and one of them, Wharton, is found perfectly by Adams but can’t direct the header on target.

59’ Adams digs out a cross from nowhere and Evans punches away under pressure from Morton. Another corner now to Northampton.

GOAL! Cheltenham 0-2 Northampton

57’ Morton levels! From an Adams corner, Goode flicks the ball towards the line, it bounces off Morton and into the net. The last touch might be from a defender but Northampton won’t care!

55’ Another chance for Northampton as Adams fancies his chances from the edge of the box and it can’t be more than a couple of inches wide.

54’ May has been Cheltenham’s brightest player of late and his deflected shot wins a corner. A game of head tennis ensues from the set piece and the last chance goes to Boyle but Arnold makes the catch.

52’ Northampton still pressing like mad and the home side are struggling again to get anywhere. They’re very unhappy not to get a corner from an Adams free kick though.

50’ Morton plays a clever backheel to strike partner Oliver, who stings the hands of Evans at his near post.

48’ Hoskins and Morton combine down the left for Northampton and the latter wins a corner. Morton and Goode get sniffs in the box but the offside flag goes up.

46’ Neat passing down the left from Cheltenham, Doyle-Hayes gets some space and tries an effort which doesn’t have the required power or placement to test Arnold.

46’ No messing about at half-time by Cheltenham boss Duff - Smith is off and Reid takes his place up top for the second half.

The winners of this finely-poised tie will take on Exeter in the play-off final at Wembley. Over the break why not catch up on the thrilling first semi-final here

HALF-TIME: Cheltenham 0-1 Northampton

We certainly have a game on here! Few could have seen this coming but Northampton have been dominant in this second leg, with Oliver’s goal halving the deficit.

The second half is not to be missed.

45+2’ Broom with a stunning half-volley from 30 yards but just off target.

 

45’ Two minutes have been added on.

43’ Another Oliver chance! Goode whips in another fantastic cross but the striker heads over.

42’ More neat play from Northampton sees Hoskins feed Morton and he lays it off for Oliver to shoot, but it’s saved.

41’ May gets half a chance in behind for Cheltenham but Goode is on him in a flash and makes the block.

40’ Oliver knocks down McCormack’s free kick into a very good position but there’s nobody there to latch onto it.

39’ Goode manages to squeeze a cross in from the corner and Adams ambitiously hits a volley over.

36’ A very, very tempting cross by Long and it’s so close to being tapped in at the back post by Smith.

35’ McCormack has another go after nice work by Adams and Morton down the left but he’s off target again.

34’ Oliver wins another header to find Morton but he can’t return the favour with the cross.

33’ Nicer interplay from Cheltenham but it finishes with a poor ball from Smith which was neither a shot nor cross.

31’ Could have been a chance here for Cheltenham - Broom does well to square the ball to May who makes a mess of his shot, though he was offside anyway.

30’ Target man Oliver continues to dominate in the air for Northampton. Morton is pulled back for an offside but it looks like he was level.

29’ Back underway with Cheltenham in attack. Tozer has two chances to launch his throw, the second is short but neither come to anything.

26’ Time for the drinks break. Northampton must need it after the running they’ve done so far.

25’ More good work from Oliver wins a Northampton corner. Adams crosses and Goode rises but the ball is scrambled away.

23’ Cheltenham eventually beat the press to get some possession in the opposition third, but Long’s cross is blocked.

21’ Adams is the latest to have a pop and the volley is blocked following a throw, before a foul gives Cheltenham much-needed respite.

20’ An Adams cross is knocked away by the defence and McCormack has an ambitious swing which clears the bar by some distance.

18’ First Cheltenham attack of the game, Raglan crosses from the right and it’s a difficult one for Smith to steer towards goal.

15’ Cheltenham still aren’t being allowed a moment on the ball and they’ve barely made it into the opposition half yet.

12’ Watson with a thundering challenge - Northampton are not giving an inch here, that’s for sure.

10’ Morton fashions a chance for himself in the box, he does well coming inside but it’s just the shot that isn’t up to scratch. Northampton could already be level!

GOAL! Cheltenham 0-1 Northampton

9’ Northampton wanted the first goal - and they’ve got it! A brilliant cross from the right by Adams is guided into the net by Oliver.

8’ Northampton are really lively so far, pressing intensely and forcing errors. Goode launches a couple of huge throws, the second finds Oliver but he heads it wide.

5’ Some good play from Northampton and they force the first corner of the game. Good start from them.

2’ The first shot of the game comes from the returning Hoskins, but it is well charged down.

KICK-OFF!

Cheltenham get the second leg underway.

Northampton ‘need first goal’

Northampton manager Keith Curle said to Sky Sports: “Goals win games and if we get the first goal, it could see a massive swing. If we get the first goal, it’s a different tie completely.”

Cheltenham ‘not taking anything for granted’

Cheltenham boss Michael Duff told Sky Sports pre-game: “We won’t be taking anything for granted, we won’t be relying on our cushion. The main focus for us will be to win the game.

“It’s an opportunity for the players as much as anything. It might be a bit strange and surreal (right now) but not many players, particularly at this level, get to play at Wembley.”

Stats favour Cheltenham

“Michael Duff's side have won four of their previous five matches against Northampton and have not lost to the Cobblers at home since the 2012/13 League Two playoffs when Luke Guttridge scored the only goal of the match. Another bit of history that favors Cheltenham is that the previous five teams to win the first leg of the fourth tier play-offs have gone on to win the tie.

The Robins will be seeking their fourth play-off final in League Two which would put them joint top with Blackpool and Torquay United. Their defence has been stellar of late, conceding just 16 goals in their last 24 matches. Further aiding their cause is Northampton's recent slump, as Thursday's defeat marked the seventh in the last nine matches for Keith Curle's men.”

Read John Lupo’s full match preview here: https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2020/06/21/1024993-cheltenham-town-vs-northampton-town-preview-robins-look-to-wrap-up-trip-to-wembley.html

Team news

Northampton: Arnold; Harriman, Goode, Turnbull, Wharton, Adams; McCormack, Watson, Hoskins; Oliver, Morton.

Subs: Cornell, Martin, Lines, Olayinka, Anderson, Warburton, Marshall, Williams, Smith,

Team news

Cheltenham: Evans; Long, Tozer, Raglan, Boyle, Hussey; Thomas, Broom, Doyle-Hayes; Smith, May.

Subs: Lovett, Debayo, Greaves, Ince, Clements, Sheaf, Nichols, Reid, Addai.

Curle still has hope

Northampton manager Keith Curle told the Northampton Chronicle after the first leg: “I think everyone has seen enough games and knows enough about football to understand that 2-0 is a difficult lead to defend and that's the message to the players," he said.

"Score the first goal on Monday night and it will change the course of the game."

“Their goalkeeper did well (on Thursday) but we put the ball in the box and we ask questions and we won't change in the second leg because we'll ask them more questions.

"There are goals to be had and I believe there will be more goals on Monday night."

‘No sitting back’ from Cheltenham

After the first leg Cheltenham boss Michael Duff said: “It’s a cliché but it’s half-time. We do have a mantra that all you can do is win a half of football: come in at half-time, reassess and see where you’re at.

“There will be no sitting back trying to protect the lead. We’ll be trying to win that half by trying to do exactly what we’ve done (in the first leg).”

Team news

Cheltenham’s Luke Varney pulled a hamstring in the warm-up ahead of the first leg and will be assessed before this one, while Alex Addai will be back in contention.

Northampton welcome back Sam Hoskins after he served a suspension in the first leg.

What happened last time

Goals in each half from Charlie Raglan and Conor Thomas gave Cheltenham the win on Thursday night, although they could be most indebted to an inspired display from goalkeeper Owen Evans.

Refresh your memory on the first leg herehttps://www.vavel.com/en/football/2020/06/18/1024586-northampton-town-0-2-cheltenham-town-robins-draw-first-blood-in-playoff-semifinal.html.

Who will reach Wembley?

Both sides are targeting the play-off final at Wembley and a return to League One but it is Cheltenham in the driving seat with a 2-0 lead from the first leg.

No League Two side has ever overcome a two-goal home deficit in the play-offs, so Northampton have it all to do.

Kick-off time

Cheltenham Town vs Northampton Town will be played at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, Cheltenham, with kick-off at 8pm.

Welcome!

Welcome to VAVEL.com’s live coverage of the League Two play-off semi-final second leg between Cheltenham Town and Northampton Town. 

My name is Stephen Ibbetson and I’ll be your host for the game, with pre-match analysis, team news and live updates.

VAVEL Logo