Richards’ strike sends Stevenage to defeat at Northampton

Charlie Lee

Charlie Lee - Credit: Archant

A clinical first half finish from Northampton Town striker Marc Richards was enough to send Stevenage to a second away loss in three days.

Boro went into the game looking for an immediate respone to Thursday’s surprise FA Cup exit to non-league Maidstone.

However, just the one goal settled the Sky Bet League Two game at the Sixfields Stadium with Stevenage left cursing two great, late missed chances.

Stevenage suffered an early scare as Northampton striker Alex Nicholls tumbled inside the Boro box under pressure from Jon Ashton, however referee Andy D’Urso waved away their protests.

After an even opening stage, it was Nicholls’ strike partner Richards who was to draw first blood on 20 minutes.

Central half Bira Dembele was playing at left back and seemed to struggle in the wide position.

Stewart Murdoch got in behind the Boro number three and pulled the ball back to the experienced front man who struck past keeper Chris Day into the bottom left corner.

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Just moments later another cross from the Northampton right was headed onto the bar by scorer Richards as Boro looked fragile after their midweek cup disappointment.

Yet another ball in from the right on 37 minutes was headed goalwards, this time by Gregor Robertson, and Day made a diving save to turn it behind.

The closing stages of the first half saw an improvement from Boro with Charlie Lee and David McAllister supplying dangerous deliveries into the Town area, however there was nobody on the end of them to take advantage.

The second half started well for Boro with Jack Jebb chipping a fine ball over the top for Southend loanee Lee Barnard, who stayed onside, but couldn’t quite get onto the pass.

As Boro looked for a leveller Charlie Adams wriggled his way across the box from left to right before offloading to Lee who had his shot stopped by the legs of Jordan Archer who made his first save of the game.

The away side continued to press as Lee, and then Adams in quick succession, tried their luck from outside of the box, but their efforts were too tame to worry Archer.

Another jinking run from Adams ended with him poking the ball wide under the challenge of two defenders on 56 minutes.

Northampton offered much less in the second period and on a rare attack Ashton blocked Town substitute Ivan Toney as he looked to burst through and earned a booking on 79 minutes.

Chris Whelpdale was introduced for Lee and was immediately involved whipping in a cross which Barnard steered off target.

At the other end Dembele did well to block Murdoch inside the box.

Boro had two huge chances to earn a share of the points in the latter stages.

A long Day kick was allowed to bounce inside the Town box as Barnard rifled against the bar and over.

As the Boro fans were still holding their heads another opportunity went begging as Dembele’s delightful delivery to the far post was put off target by Whelpdale as any hopes of an equaliser disappeared.

At the final whistle boss Graham Westley appeared to have a few words with one of his supporters before he applauded the majority of the travelling faithful who responded with their own applause.

Northampton: Archer, Tozer, Langmead, Collins, Robertson, Hackett (Ravenhill 85mins), Carter, Murdoch, Mohamed (Byrom 85mins), Richards, Nicholls (Toney 57mins).

Substitutes: Duke, Alfei, Sinclair, Moyo.

Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Wells, Dembele, Lee (Whelpdale 83mins), McAllister, Jebb (Parrett 68mins), Adams, Charles (Deacon 77mins), Barnard.

Substitutes: Beasant, Bond, Walton, Okimo.

Referee: A D’Urso.

Attendance: 4,431.

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