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League Two play-off final: Exeter City 0-4 Northampton Town

Ryan Watson scores for Northampton

Northampton Town dominated 10-man Exeter City to win the League Two play-off final and gain promotion to League One at an empty Wembley.

The Cobblers bombarded Exeter in the opening period and went ahead through Ryan Watson's early deflected strike after a long throw.

Callum Morton doubled the lead when he reacted quickly to tap in after a free-kick was headed across the face of goal as Exeter repeatedly failed to deal with Northampton's high balls into the box.

Exeter's Dean Moxey was sent off early in the second half for a nasty tackle on Watson before late goals from Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams wrapped the game up.

The victory sees Northampton promoted back into the third tier after two seasons in League Two.

Exeter fail to survive Northampton bombardment

Northampton only qualified for the play-offs by virtue of average points per game after League Two was curtailed because of the Covid-19 pandemic as they leapfrogged Port Vale into the final qualifying position.

Coronavirus restrictions meant there were no fans in the stadium to see the game - which should have been played in late May - and Exeter supporters will have been glad they had not made the 175-mile journey as a robust Northampton overpowered their men.

City could not deal with the Cobblers from long throws and set-plays as Keith Curle's side registered eight efforts on target to Exeter's zero in a first half that, had it not been for goalkeeper Jon Maxted, would have seen the Grecians more than two behind at the break.

It took just 11 minutes for the high balls to take effect when Nigel Atangana could only head a long throw from Charlie Goode clear to Watson, who shifted the ball onto his left foot and calmly struck past Maxted with a shot that clipped Aaron Martin on the way through.

Exeter could have been further behind five minutes later as first Hoskins had a close-range effort tipped over after Nicky Adams' free-kick was parried, before French striker Vadaine Oliver - who the Grecians' defenders struggled to deal with - headed over from another long throw seconds later.

Another big ball into the box caused the second goal - a free-kick from halfway was swung in towards centre-back Scott Wharton, whose header was flicked on by Jordan Turnbull into the path of West Brom loanee Morton, who fired in to add to the two goals he scored in the semi-final second leg win over Cheltenham last week.

It would have been worse for Exeter were it not for Maxted who pulled off a succession of fine saves to keep out three headers from Wharton and another from Oliver.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Exeter

  • 23Maxted
  • 2SweeneySubstituted forDickensonat 82'minutes
  • 5MartinBooked at 86mins
  • 21MoxeyBooked at 59mins
  • 11Williams
  • 25Taylor
  • 4AtanganaSubstituted forSparkesat 61'minutes
  • 20RichardsonSubstituted forParkesat 51'minutes
  • 8Law
  • 12Bowman
  • 18FisherSubstituted forCollinsat 52'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Ward
  • 7Martin
  • 14Ajose
  • 15Parkes
  • 17Jay
  • 22Sparkes
  • 24Dickenson
  • 27Collins
  • 35Seymour

Northampton

  • 25Arnold
  • 5Goode
  • 6Turnbull
  • 16WhartonBooked at 4mins
  • 10AdamsSubstituted forMarshallat 31'minutes
  • 4McCormackSubstituted forOlayinkaat 74'minutes
  • 7Hoskins
  • 23Harriman
  • 8WatsonBooked at 54minsSubstituted forAndersonat 88'minutes
  • 19OliverSubstituted forSmithat 74'minutes
  • 39MortonSubstituted forWilliamsat 88'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Cornell
  • 3Martin
  • 9Smith
  • 11Williams
  • 14Lines
  • 20Warburton
  • 21Olayinka
  • 44Anderson
  • 45Marshall
Referee:
Michael Salisbury

Match Stats

Home TeamExeterAway TeamNorthampton
Possession
Home60%
Away40%
Shots
Home9
Away22
Shots on Target
Home1
Away10
Corners
Home5
Away7
Fouls
Home14
Away18

Live Text

Match ends, Exeter City 0, Northampton Town 4.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Exeter City 0, Northampton Town 4.

Foul by Archie Collins (Exeter City).

Mark Marshall (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Harry Smith (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Sam Hoskins.

Goal!

Goal! Exeter City 0, Northampton Town 4. Andy Williams (Northampton Town) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Harry Smith with a headed pass.

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. Andy Williams replaces Callum Morton.

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. Paul Anderson replaces Ryan Watson.

Tom Parkes (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Charlie Goode (Northampton Town).

Booking

Aaron Martin (Exeter City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Aaron Martin (Exeter City).

Callum Morton (Northampton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. James Olayinka (Northampton Town) left footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Charlie Goode.

Foul by Brennan Dickenson (Exeter City).

Charlie Goode (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Exeter City. Brennan Dickenson replaces Pierce Sweeney.

Goal!

Goal! Exeter City 0, Northampton Town 3. Sam Hoskins (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mark Marshall.

Ryan Bowman (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Charlie Goode (Northampton Town).

Pierce Sweeney (Exeter City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Harry Smith (Northampton Town).

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. James Olayinka replaces Alan McCormack.

Substitution

Substitution, Northampton Town. Harry Smith replaces Vadaine Oliver.

Attempt missed. Archie Collins (Exeter City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ryan Bowman following a corner.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Scott Wharton.

Attempt blocked. Jake Taylor (Exeter City) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is blocked.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Michael Harriman.

Attempt missed. Mark Marshall (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Sam Hoskins.

Attempt missed. Callum Morton (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Vadaine Oliver with a through ball following a fast break.

Attempt missed. Scott Wharton (Northampton Town) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Foul by Aaron Martin (Exeter City).

Steve Arnold (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Ryan Watson.

Tom Parkes (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Scott Wharton (Northampton Town).

Attempt blocked. Scott Wharton (Northampton Town) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mark Marshall with a cross.

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by Jack Sparkes.

Foul by Randell Williams (Exeter City).

Michael Harriman (Northampton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.

goal

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