The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Stu­art Baker

NORTHAMP­TON Town man­ager Chris Wilder was left purring about his side’s ti­tle-win­ning chances af­ter a spec­tac­u­lar come­back against below-par Steve­nage.

A dou­ble from Luke Wilkinson – his first and se­cond for the club – gave Steve­nage a well-earned lead up to the half hour mark, but that was cut four min­utes be­fore the break with a headed goal from James Collins – an an­swer to his crit­ics fol­low­ing his Chel­tenham con­tro­versy in mid­week.

John-Joe O’Toole brought the game level on 51 min­utes be­fore Fraser Franks was shown a straight red for pulling down Sam Hoskins as he bore down on goal.

The Cob­blers upped the tempo and Ricky Holmes smacked in the win­ner four min­utes into stop­page time, spark­ing an in­va­sion from the Northamp­ton bench and Wilder could not hide his ex­cite­ment af­ter mov­ing 11 points clear with nine games re­main­ing.

“It was a dif­fi­cult 45 min­utes for us but we re­grouped, and the goal be­fore half-time was a mas­sively im­por­tant one,” he said.

“In the se­cond half we showed what we’re about. Cham­pi­onship win­ning teams have those games like this one.

“The se­cond half showed why we put our­selves in a fan­tas­tic po­si­tion to win this league this year.

“Days like this when you drag your­self off the floor and win a game of foot­ball is why ev­ery­one loves the game.

“It looked as though we would run out of time but the ma­gi­cian comes up at the death with a fan­tas­tic goal. To be on 82 points with nine game to go is just mind-bog­gling.

“The re­ac­tion from ev­ery­body in the se­cond half was first class and that’s the rea­son that we’re sit­ting here with the re­sult we had here.”

Boro started the bet­ter of the two sides and Dean Par­rett twice was the provider for Wilkinson, be­fore they were pegged back when Nicky Adams found Collins un­marked to head in from close range.

O’Toole brought the game level on 51 min­utes, stab­bing home un­marked from a Joel By­rom cor­ner, and there were no ar­gu­ments over Franks’ red card on 78 min­utes.

Ricky Holmes pro­vided the grand­stand fin­ish, and Steve­nage care­taker man­ager Dar­ren Sarll found it hard to find any pos­i­tives af­ter see­ing his side give up a com­mand­ing po­si­tion.

He said: “The tim­ing of their first goal was ab­so­lutely mas­sive and you’re go­ing in at half-time be­ing at 2-1 rather than a 2-0 – and a de­served 2-0.

“But it was a lack of con­cen­tra­tion which al­ways comes from ex­pe­ri­ence, and both man­agers’ team talks com­pletely change at that point.

“Then the third goal the lad has pro­duced a mo­ment of indi- vid­ual qual­ity, but we had to do bet­ter to deal with that sit­u­a­tion one-on-one. It was a dis­ap­point­ing mo­ment af­ter the fel­las had worked so hard with ten men for ten min­utes, but we have to dust our­selves down and go again.”



S Northa

mp­ton MATCH WIN­NER: Northamp­ton’s Ricky Holmes, right, cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the late win­ner

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