NORTHAMPTON Town didn’t just steal the points at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium, they also nicked the bus stop with their coaches, leaving local fans gnashing their teeth at the foolishness of parking not one but two huge vehicles in the bus lane. It’s a common problem at Broadhall Way and suggests local authorities, who advise away clubs to use the bus stop after the game, disregard the safety of the fans who have to walk dangerously close to traffic to attract the attention of a bus.
They were actually the only buses parked at the Lamex, for Northampton came out determined from the start of a riveting match between the leaders of League Two, Stevenage, and the Cobblers. They scored after less than a minute, a confident penalty from Scottish striker Louis Appéré after he was brought down in the area by Terence Vancooten. There could be no complaints about the penalty, although the locals were less than happy.
Stevenage struggled to make much impact in the first 20 minutes and their frustration was evident when manager Steve Evans (pictured) was red-carded. It was a little surprising when they equalised after 35 minutes, Danny Rose sweeping the ball home as he was falling in the area.
The game ebbed and flowed and a draw looked the most likely outcome, but in the last 10 minutes or so, there was a flurry of activity. Kieron Bowie gave Northampton the lead once more with a low left-foot drive from outside the area in the 81st minute. Stevenage came back straight away, with Alex Gilbey finishing well from close range after Dan Sweeney’s header from a corner was only partially cleared.
As a smoke bomb landed on the pitch, Northampton refused to settle for a point and Stevenage were only level for a minute or so as Shaun McWilliam volleyed past Taye Ashby-Hammond for their third goal.
The Cobblers finished the game with 10 men as Danny Hylton was red-carded for appearing to strike a defender.
There was no doubt Northampton were the best side to visit the Lamex this season and the game itself was an excellent advertisement for League Two football. And it also highlighted the contribution made by a healthy travelling contingent, the atmosphere was raucous at times, adding to the intensity of top-of-the-table rivalry. It was Stevenage’s first home defeat in the league; they’re still ahead of Northampton, but Leyton Orient, who won 3-2 at Carlisle, went to the top of the table. Stevenage have two away games next, at Doncaster Rovers and Colchester United.