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Exeter City v Northampton Town: League Two play-off final – live! – The Guardian

4.47pm EDT16:47 Thanks all for your company and comments. Night-night. 4.43pm EDT16:43 Here’s Nick Ames’ match report. Updated at 4.47pm EDT 4.43pm EDT16:43 So there we are: Northampton Town absolutely demolished Exeter City in as good a final performance as you’ll see. They join Swindon Town, Crewe Alexandra and Plymouth Argyle in going up from…

Exeter City v Northampton Town: League Two play-off final – live! – The Guardian

Thanks all for your company and comments. Night-night.

Here’s Nick Ames’ match report.

Updated

So there we are: Northampton Town absolutely demolished Exeter City in as good a final performance as you’ll see. They join Swindon Town, Crewe Alexandra and Plymouth Argyle in going up from League 2 to League 1.

“We’re proud, as players and football staff, to represent them,” he says of the fans, and when a fan chucked a season ticket at him after defeat against Morecambe, he called him in and explained that “we’re on a journey”. And what’s he going to do tonight? “Have a hot chocolate, go to sleep, get up, watch the game back because that’s what I do.”

I’m not certain his players will do likewise.

Updated

Keith Curle says belief is the most important thing, and everyone at Northampton has it, confident in what they’re trying to do. He says he’s done it for the players, fans, staff and directors, then thanks his son, daughters and partner, who “make me tick”. Naturally, he then has champagne emptied all over him, then goes on to talk about the work, desire and attention to detail in the group.

I wonder if Northampton will alter their approach next season. Ultimately, long-ball football can work, as we’ve seen, because you reduce pressure on your own defence and force the opposition defence to defend. There’s no reason to think it won’t work a level up, though if Morton isn’t there, it’ll be difficult.

Keith Curle joins his captain to lift the trophy, and rightly so – this is his triumph, and he’s been so close before. He is a very, very happy man.

Northampton Town players lift the trophy and celebrate winning promotion.

Northampton Town players lift the trophy and celebrate winning promotion. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Updated

The Northampton players collect their own medals, which is a shame – they could have fun presenting them to each other – and snaffle the champagne before it’s time.

“We played out of our skin,” says Callum Morton, who says his team were quietly confident before the game. He reckons he’s developed as a player and always saw himself as a goalscorer, so hopes he’s proved that he is. He’s not sure what he’ll be doing next season – staying another season or going back to West Brom – but he looks like he’s got a lot to offer either club.

The Northampton players are absolutely having it. It’s odd there being no fans, but they’re making the most of the moment nevertheless.

NORTHAMPTON TOWN ARE PROMOTED! Full-time: Exeter City 0-4 Northampton Town

Northampton have been superb, and fully deserve their promotion. You’ve got to feel for Exeter, but ultimately they were outplayed, outfought and out-everything elsed.

90+4 min Talking of Goode, it’s not just his throw-ins that have been effective but how well his team-mates have used them. You can tell that they’ve worked hard and been worked hard.

90+3 min Northampton play it into the corner, presumably for a laugh.

90+2 min Lee Hendrie gives Callum Morton man of the match, which I guess is fair enough because he’s been great, but when the game was in the balance, I’d say that Oliver and Goode were crucial.

90 min There’ll be four added minutes.

IT’S A HIDING! GOAL! Exeter City 0-4 Northampton Town (Williams A 89)

What a substitution! Goode hurls towards the penalty spot and Smith flicks into the space behind the Exeter back line, Williams timing his run to prod home from close range. What a brilliant performance this has been from the Cobblers, the most complete final statement as I’ve seen in ages.

Andy Williams of Northampton Town celebrates scoring the fourth.

Andy Williams of Northampton Town celebrates scoring the fourth. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Updated

89 min Northampton win a throw, and Goode will have it….

88 min Anderson and Williams A replace Watson and Morton. Morton has been really good.

87 min Have we any Northampton fans reading? I’m sure you’ve got more important things to do than talk to me, but I’m intrigued as to the vibe. On the one hand, you’re not there, on the other hand your team are going up and you’re proximate to a refrigerator.

85 min Morton won’t let anything lie, and he dashes into space behind Martin, forcing the foul; Martin is booked.

84 min Time elapses, as Northampton enjoy the moments.

82 min Exeter replace Sweeney with Dickenson. It’s his big chance!

81 min This has been as good a final performance as you’ll see from Northampton, who’ve been focused, intense and absolutely fundamental from the off.

GOAL! NORTHAMPTON ARE GOING UP TO LEAGUE 1! Exeter City 0-3 Northampton Town (Hoskins 80)

More fine play from Morton, who controls on the chest as the ball drops, then scavenges for it when it looks to be running away, poking for Marshall, who screeches onto the pass then squares for Hoskins to sweep into the far corner.

79 min On Twitter, Jim White of the Telegraph has more Cureton gen: “The only player to have scored in all of the top nine levels of English football. Did an interview with him last season when he achieved that record and photographer got him to shoot at goal. He celebrated when it went in. Top man.”

78 min Northampton are looking a little nervous, so are leaving Smith up and getting everyone else behind the ball. It’s pretty fundamental.

75 min Changes for Northampton: Olayinka replaces McCormack and Smith replaces Oliver, who’s been really good.

Updated

73 min The second half has been a lot more even, and an Exeter goal now would set us right up for an exciting finish.

71 min Martin brings the ball out like Sammer and gets caught, allowing Oliver to slide in Morton! This is the game! Maxted does really well to get out to him, but there’s space for yerman to jimmy around him or square to Hoskins. Instead, he looks to slot underneath him, and the effort bobbles just wide.

70 min Again, Northampton make hay down the right and Marshall stands up a cross for Oliver, who can’t quite apply brow to ball.

68 min A water break.

66 min “Callum Morton is a Torquay fan,” says Chris Lintott. “Or at least he grew up watching his home team. Apparently he nearly came on loan to the Gulls but ended up in Northampton instead. Can’t say I mind now!”

I doubt he’ll thank me for this, but I was once lucky enough to be in the crowd, watching our correspondent play University Challenge (one of my mates was the team captain). I’ll refrain from reporting the score, but Paxman was not amused and Gunnatillake of University College, Oxford was quite something.

Updated

64 min Again, Marshall scoots down the right and again his cross asks a question, Maxted responding with a clearing punch.

64 min Good dashes across the centre-circle to rob Taylor before galloping up the left wing. He’s had a really good game.

62 min Collins has made a difference for Exeter, looking to get on the ball and keep it for his team. He was dropped following the semi-final, but based on what we’ve seen so far, should’ve started. His team have had 74 percent possession these last 10 minutes.

61 min Another change for Exeter, who are desperate now; Sparkes replaces Atangana.

58 min RED CARD FOR EXETER! DEAN MOXEY IS SENT OFF!

He can’t have any complaints – he had a little conflab with McCormack, chucking an arm, then lost the heid completely and scythed through Watson. For a moment it looked like we were getting a proper rumble, but it defused all too quickly.

Dean Moxey sees red.

Dean Moxey sees red. Photograph: Dennis Goodwin/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

58 min Northampton look

well-organised and well-drilled
fundamental.

58 min Collins slides Law down the line and he finds Williams, whose low cross is hoofed away by Turnbull.

56 min This is a good spell for Exeter, who are having a lot of the ball. But they’re struggling to create and Atangana tries to force it, spraying wide to no one.

Updated

55 min Williams again makes space so Watson slides in nice and late. He’s booked.

53 min Morton sprints onto a long ball, collecting beautifully then holding up well before unloading to Hoskins. He heads towards goal, before falling in a challenge with Atangana; he wants a penalty, but the ref says not. It was close, though.

53 min Sensible from Matt Taylor; it wasn’t working, so he’s given his subs a decent shot at making something happen.

52 min Double change for Exeter, Parkes and Collins replacing Richardson and Fisher.

51 min Williams on the ball again, squaring up Harriman and nipping outside him along the by-line, but his touch is heavy and he can’t catch up with it.

50 min Williams is doing his best to get his mates going, arcing a low right-footer towards the near post, but neither Exeter striker gambles. One of them has got to run across their man there.

48 min Morton holds up well and wins a free-kick, 45 yards out. Northampton have been really good from set pieces, and another, er … diag is knocked back across by Wharton. When that’s semi-cleared, Watson absolutely punishes a shot that’s blocked at source.

46 min Elsewhere, Palace and Burnley is 0-0, but Dwight McNeill is apparently being himself. He’s a lovely player, and you can follow him here.

46 min Exeter beat Northampton from a goal down earlier in the season – the only time they did that all season – so maybe they’ll bear that in mind as they kick-off the second half.

Back come the teams…

Half-time: Exeter City 0-2 Northampton Town

That was an extremely entertaining half (of football). Northampton were excellent and might be further ahead, but Exeter have the firepower to reel them in, if they score next. Join me again in 10 to find out what happens next.

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