WALTON STRIKE BOOSTS WESTLEY
STEVENAGE boss Graham Westley praised his side’s resilience after they fought back from a goal down to beat ten-man Northampton and boost their play-off hopes.
Simon Walton’s 90th-minute strike earned Boro their first victory at The Lamex in three after Chris Whelpdale cancelled out Xander Diamond’s strike for the Cobblers.
Northampton had Ryan Cresswell dismissed in stoppage time for two bookable offences. Stevenage sit sixth, three points clear of eighth-placed Newport, and Westley said his side had to dig deep as they bid to reach the play-offs.
“It was a very resilient and determined performance and the boys thoroughly deserved the victory,” he said.
“We had to show a lot of steel, we’re not the biggest or strongest side but we’re very determined and I thought we were excellent physically.
“It was a good first half, we played intelligently, decisively and with confidence and to go in 1-0 down was tough to take.
“But we talked about attacking more intelligently in the second half and it was a disciplined, organised and very professional performance. “The goals were well crafted, we got into the areas we knew they were weak in and it was good to see the players showing drive, determination and quality.”
Stevenage started brightly but Bira Dembele spurned a glorious opportunity, heading wide from Dean Parrett’s free-kick when unmarked on nine minutes.
Boro continued to dominate and Chris Beardsley drew a fantastic save from Chris Duke just after the half hour.
But, completely against the run of play, the Cobblers took the lead six minutes before the break through Diamond.
Joel Byrom’s free-kick was flicked on and the Scottish centre-back slotted home.
Stevenage started the second half on the front foot and equalised on 65 minutes through Whelpdale. Parrett found space on the edge of the box and clipped a ball to the back post for the midfielder to head home.
Both sides pushed in search of a winner, but when Chris Day denied John-Joe O’Toole at the depth, Boro broke forward and substitute Walton turned home in the 90th minute, before Cresswell saw red.
Defeat leaves Northampton seven points outside the play-offs with just four games to play.
“It’s disappointing, because the equaliser has killed us, it was a poor goal to concede,” said boss Chris Wilder.
“We got ourselves in front, we should have had enough experience to see it across the line, but we conceded a poor equaliser and then the game’s always in the balance.
“We had two or three opportunities where we could have taken the lead, but unfortunately it’s gone against us.
“We have an obligation as professional footballers to the team and club to go and get as many points between now and the end of the season and then we’ll re-evaluate when the time is right.”
STEVENAGE (4-4-2): Day 7, Whelpdale 7, Wells 6, Dembele 6, Okimo 6, Pett 6 (Andrade 78, 7), Bond 6, Parrett 9, Conlon 6, Lee 6 (Walton 87, 8), Beardsley 7 Subs not used: Beasant, McAllister, Yamfam, Akinyemi NORTHAMPTON TOWN (4-4-2): Duke 9, Moloney 6, Collins 7, Diamond 7 (O’Toole 71, 6), Horwood 6 (Tozer 50, 6), Taylor 6, Byrom 6, Cresswell 4, Gray 6 (D’Ath 50, 6), Toney 7, De Girolamo 6 Subs not used: Jalal, Carter, Hackett, Perry
STAR MAN DEAN
age Steven EYES ON THE BALL: Chris Whelpdale scores Stevenage’s first goal. Inset: Simon Walton celebrates