Cobblers claim narrow advantage

Roy O'Donovan earned Northampton a 1-0 win over Cheltenham in their League Two play-off semi-final first leg at Sixfields.

Last Updated: 03/05/13 at 08:39

Roy O'Donovan: Celebrates goal for Northampton

Roy O'Donovan: Celebrates goal for Northampton

Free £50 bet

Daily Offers and Promotions, sign up for a free £50 matched bet

The Cobblers were good value for their narrow win heading into Sunday's second leg at Whaddon Road, but the Robins will feel more than capable of turning the tie around and returning to Wembley 12 months after their final defeat to Crewe.

O'Donovan's well-taken finish, his sixth goal of the season, came midway through the first half from Chris Hackett's right-wing cross.

Burly striker Adebayo Akinfenwa was denied a precious second goal for Northampton when he saw his close-range header kept out by a tremendous one-handed save by Scott Brown.

Paul Benson spurned two gilt-edged chances for Cheltenham while Jermaine McGlashan could feel hard done by not to have been awarded a second-half penalty when he was brought down, but the visitors failed to really trouble Lee Nicholls at Sixfields.

It was Northampton's first win in seven attempts over the Robins, who completed a league double this season, but the semi-final is far from over as both teams chase a return to England's third tier for the first time since 2009.

Cobblers boss Aidy Boothroyd was keen to stress pre-match that form counts for little heading into the play-offs, with his charges having ended a five-match winless streak on the final day of the regular season.

But even he could not deny that both sides have enjoyed starkly contrasting home and away form this term.

The Cobblers had won 11 of their previous 12 home games going into this one while the Robins are unbeaten in 20 at Whaddon Road, yet they had only managed 10 wins on the road between them.

With that in mind the onus was very much on Northampton to make the running tonight and it was they who settled first, with recalled pair Akinfenwa, twice, and Hackett off target.

Akinfenwa headed Ben Harding's 16th-minute corner goalwards but appeared to see his effort deflect off the arm of a Cheltenham shirt from close range.

And it was the hosts who took the lead in the 26th minute courtesy of a fine finish from O'Donovan, connecting with Hackett's cross from 12 yards.

Benson dragged wide a great chance to draw Cheltenham level immediately, and it was his header which forced Cobblers goalkeeper Nicholls into his first save in the 41st minute.

McGlashan made Nicholls tip over three minutes into the second half before Ishmel Demontagnac tested Brown at the other end while under pressure from Sido Jombati.

Benson then wasted another clear chance for Cheltenham just before the hour mark when he headed wide Marlon Pack's cross at the far post.

Cheltenham goalkeeper Brown produced a superb save to keep out Akinfenwa's 68th-minute header.

McGlashan could consider himself unlucky not to earn a penalty in the 70th minute having been clattered by Luke Guttridge.

It was Northampton who made all the pressing in the closing stages as they went in search of a crucial second but it failed to arrive and, despite a celebratory pitch invasion from the home support, the tie remains wide open ahead of the second leg.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

There are no results at present.

Sky Bet League 2

Position Team P GD PTS
1 AFC W'don 0 0 0
2 Accrington 0 0 0
3 Burton Alb 0 0 0
4 Bury 0 0 0
5 Cambridge Utd 0 0 0
6 Carlisle 0 0 0
7 Cheltenham 0 0 0
8 Dag + Red 0 0 0
9 Exeter 0 0 0
10 Hartlepool 0 0 0
11 Luton Town 0 0 0
12 Mansfield 0 0 0
13 Morecambe 0 0 0
14 Newport 0 0 0
15 Northamptn 0 0 0
16 Oxford Utd 0 0 0
17 Plymouth 0 0 0
18 Portsmouth 0 0 0
19 Shrewsbury 0 0 0
20 Southend 0 0 0
21 Stevenage 0 0 0
22 Tranmere 0 0 0
23 Wycombe 0 0 0
24 York City 0 0 0

Updated Wed, 09 Jul 2014

Footer 365

Indian Super League: Ex-Juventus and Monaco striker David Trezeguet joins FC Pune City

World Cup winner David Trezeguet has been unveiled as the latest Indian Super League signing, joining FC Pune City.

Transfer news: Everton sign striker Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea for £28m

Everton had to overcome a late paperwork scare to finalise the signature of Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku.

Transfer news: Stuttgart's Antonio Rudiger not thinking about interest

Stuttgart's Germany defender Antonio Rudiger says he is not thinking about the interest being shown in him from England.

Mail Box

Divock Origi Is Like Connor Sammon (Sort Of)

One Mailboxer inserts his tongue into cheek to offer his thoughts on Liverpool's newest signing. Plus thoughts on league-owned clubs, badges, and swearing...

Mails Come From A Land Down Under

We have an example of league-owned clubs from Australia while Kiwi boys want more respect for refs. Plus, Van Gaal won't stick with 3-5-2 and worried if Koeman will cut it...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property