Northampton Town dominated 10-man Exeter City to win the League Two play-off remaining and achieve promotion to League One at an empty Wembley.
The Cobblers bombarded Exeter within the opening interval and went forward by Ryan Watson’s early deflected strike after a protracted throw.
Callum Morton doubled the lead when he reacted rapidly to faucet in after a free-kick was headed throughout the face of aim as Exeter repeatedly did not take care of Northampton’s excessive balls into the field.
Exeter’s Dean Moxey was despatched off early within the second half for a nasty sort out on Watson earlier than late objectives from Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams wrapped the sport up.
The victory sees Northampton promoted again into the third tier after two seasons in League Two.
Exeter fail to outlive Northampton bombardment
Northampton solely certified for the play-offs by advantage of common factors per recreation after League Two was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic as they leapfrogged Port Vale into the ultimate qualifying place.
Coronavirus restrictions meant there have been no followers within the stadium to see the sport – which ought to have been performed in late May – and Exeter supporters can have been glad that they had not made the 175-mile journey as a strong Northampton overpowered their males.
City couldn’t take care of the Cobblers from lengthy throws and set-plays as Keith Curle’s facet registered eight efforts on course to Exeter’s zero in a primary half that, had it not been for goalkeeper Jon Maxted, would have seen the Grecians greater than two behind on the break.
It took simply 11 minutes for the excessive balls to take impact when Nigel Atangana may solely head a protracted throw from Charlie Goode clear to Watson, who shifted the ball onto his left foot and calmly struck previous Maxted with a shot that clipped Aaron Martin on the best way by.
Exeter may have been additional behind 5 minutes later as first Hoskins had a close-range effort tipped over after Nicky Adams’ free-kick was parried, earlier than French striker Vadaine Oliver – who the Grecians’ defenders struggled to take care of – headed over from one other lengthy throw seconds later.
Another huge ball into the field brought about the second aim – a free-kick from midway was swung in in direction of centre-back Scott Wharton, whose header was flicked on by Jordan Turnbull into the trail of West Brom loanee Morton, who fired in so as to add to the 2 objectives he scored within the semi-final second leg win over Cheltenham final week.
It would have been worse for Exeter have been it not for Maxted who pulled off a succession of wonderful saves to maintain out three headers from Wharton and one other from Oliver.
Red card ends Exeter’s slim hopes
No group had ever come again from two objectives down at half-time to win a play-off remaining and Exeter’s document towards Northampton didn’t bode nicely – that they had received simply three of their previous 27 conferences, dropping 17 instances.
Exeter did begin the second interval higher as substitute Archie Collins started to make his facet’s passing recreation tick.
But any hope City had of getting again into the sport evaporated after an hour as their most-experienced participant, Dean Moxey, was despatched off after a nasty lunge on Watson.
Morton had the possibility to wrap the sport up with 20 minutes left as he was put by on aim by Oliver, however his shot by the on-rushing Maxted’s legs dribbled simply huge of the far put up.
Exeter did not power Northampton goalkeeper Steven Arnold right into a single save and the sport was settled with 10 minutes left as Hoskins side-footed residence from 12 yards after good work from Morton allowed substitute Mark Marshall to make his manner into the penalty space and slide the ball throughout to the goalscorer.
Exeter’s play-off remaining distress was accomplished with a aim that summed up Northampton’s method – Goode’s lengthy throw was flicked on by Harry Smith and Williams guided the ball previous Maxted.
It was a 3rd League Two-play-off remaining defeat in 4 years for Exeter, who have been overwhelmed by Blackpool in 2017 and Coventry City in 2018.
A second play-off remaining win in 23 years
Northampton’s fourth EFL play-off remaining resulted in victory 23 seasons after their solely different Wembley win for promotion.
John Frain’s stoppage-time free-kick noticed the Cobblers beat Swansea City 1-Zero on the outdated Wembley in 1997 to win promotion from the outdated Third Division.
Since then the membership has yo-yoed between the third and fourth tiers of English soccer, though they have been 90 minutes away from making what’s now the Championship again in 1998 after they misplaced 1-Zero to Grimsby within the outdated Division Two play-off remaining.
Since then they’ve reached the play-offs 4 extra instances, however had solely in any other case reached Wembley in 2013 when the Cobblers misplaced the League Two remaining 3-Zero to a Bradford City facet that had made the League Cup remaining earlier that season.
The win ends two consecutive seasons within the fourth tier for the Cobblers, who will now be hoping to ascertain themselves in League One.
‘An event like no different’
Analysis – BBC Sport’s James Law at Wembley
When I noticed only one supporter in 30 minutes on Olympic Way earlier than the match I knew this was going to be an event like no different.
For what was considered the first-ever aggressive recreation behind-closed-doors at Wembley, there was strobe lighting and a pre-recorded nationwide anthem to attempt to recreate the sensation of such an essential recreation.
The soccer itself was largely sufficient of a distraction to remove from the weirdness of the environment, with the sounds of typing from the press benches, potty-mouthed gamers and the Wembley turbines changing the standard deafening noise from the stands.
Arguably the strangest second was not the aftermath of the Northampton objectives, however the lack of response to Exeter’s Dean Moxey being despatched off – there was no noise and I needed to double-check that he had in reality been red-carded.
On the ultimate whistle the Cobblers had an outpouring of emotion, celebrating in a giant huddle down a digital camera lens to attempt to deliver a number of the ardour to the dwelling rooms of their absent followers.
This was an indication of issues to come back – the FA Cup and Champions League finals, in addition to the League One and Championship play-off finals, will all be held in entrance of empty stadiums over the subsequent 5 weeks.