WAL­TON STRIKE BOOSTS WEST­LEY

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Raj Man­gat

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

PIC­TURES: TGSPHOTO

STAR MAN DEAN

TT PARRE

age Steven EYES ON THE BALL: Chris Whelp­dale scores Steve­nage’s first goal. Inset: Simon Wal­ton cel­e­brates

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