Potter goal sinks Stevenage as Town go fourth

GOOD LAD! - Nicky Adams congratulates Alfie Potter on his winning goal for the Cobblers at Sixfields (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
GOOD LAD! - Nicky Adams congratulates Alfie Potter on his winning goal for the Cobblers at Sixfields (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
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Northampton Town recovered from a goal down for the second successive game as second-half goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Alfie Potter inspired the Cobblers to a 2-1 win over Stevenage at Sixfields.

In a game that followed a similar pattern to Northampton’s win over Carlisle in midweek, Town struggled to make much headway in the first half after Steven Schumacher put Stevenage ahead with a deflected effort.

Boro remained the more threatening side but, like Tuesday, a goal from young Dominic Calvert-Lewin swung the momentum in Northampton’s favour.

Calvert-Lewin converted Sam Hoskins’ shot shortly after the restart and that breathed new life into the home side, who didn’t need long to go in front through substitute Potter.

The Cobblers had chances to add to their lead but two goals ultimately proved enough for a fourth win in five league games, and they are now fourth in Sky Bet League Two, level on points with third-placed Oxford.

Coming into this game, manager Chris Wilder was forced into one change after Ryan Cresswell failed to recover from a groin injury picked up in the win over Carlisle, meaning a start for Zander Diamond, while Brendan Moloney featured in the matchday squad for the first time this season.

And Wilder suffered another defensive blow less than 10 minutes into the game when Shaun Brisley was forced off and replaced by Rod McDonald, who himself has only just recovered from a lengthy lay-off.

It had been a cautious start from both sides as Northampton shaded a scrappy opening with a succession of early corners coming to nothing.

A heavy downpour only served to increase the lack of flow to the game as neither side were able to conjure up a single effort on goal in the opening 20 minutes despite Northampton maintaning their dominance of the corner count.

John-Joe O’Toole, on his seventh successive start, had the first opening but he failed to connect when left unmarked from a corner, and from the resulting break, Stevenage struck the first blow.

There had been little to suggest a goal was forthcoming after a cagey start, but Boro broke and a ball into the Northampton penalty box was only partially cleared by McDonald as his header fell to visiting captain Schumacher, whose 20-yard effort deflected off Diamond and into the net via the post.

Stevenage had posed few problems prior to that goal but it was the visitors who were now on the front foot as striker Armand Gnaduillet was proving a handful for an unconvincing home defence that once again looked vulnerable to the counter-attack.

Hoskins tested Jesse Joronen for the first time, having a low shot well saved, but that was largely against the balance of play as Stevenage remained in the ascendency.

And they had a wonderful chance to double their advantage on 38 minutes when full-back Jerome Okimo broke down the left and sent in dangerous low cross which Chris Whelpdale could only slice high and wide from eight yards out.

Northampton struggled to find any fluency as several passes went astray, and if anything it was the visitors who seemed the likelier to add a second before half-time with Adam Smith doing well to deny Tom Conlon.

The first half had followed a similar pattern to Tuesday’s game against Carlisle, however there was to be no repeat of a Cobblers equaliser on the stroke of half-time as Stevenage took a deserved lead into the break.

Northampton showed some signs of a response in a positive start to the second half, and within five minutes of the restart, they were level.

David Buchanan was the creator as his fizzing low cross was met by Hoskins and with his effort going wide, Calvert-Lewin showed the presence of mind to direct the ball into the net.

The Cobblers visibly grew in confidence from that goal, although Stevenage remained a threat on the break with Buchanan almost diverting a low cross into his own net.

But almost immediately Northampton went up the end and added a second.

Joel Byrom instigated the move with a deft ball down the touchline to Adams, who then slipped through Calvert-Lewin. The teenage striker saw his shot saved by Jornen and the ball trickled across the six-yard box and though Boro defender Jamie McCombe won a desperate race to get there first, his attempted clearance was brilliantly charged down by Potter and the ball cannoned into the net.

Marc Richards came close to an instant third for a Cobblers side now on top as he turned his man to make space in the penalty area but his deflected effort sailed over the crossbar.

Though Richards then had a second effort saved by Joronen, Stevenage were far from done and they came close to an equaliser but defender Fraser Franks whizzed his low effort just wide.

That was the only real opportunity Stevenage manage to create in the remaining time, though, as Smith was virtually untroubled throughout the second half.

Northampton always threatened another on the break but although a third goal never materialised, the Cobblers withstood Stevenage’s late efforts to hold out for a fourth win in five League Two matches.

Match facts

Cobblers: Smith, Furlong, Brisley (McDonald 10), Diamond, Buchanan, Byrom, O’Toole, Adams, Hoskins (Potter 59), Calvert-Lewin (Watson 82), Richards

Subs not used: Clarke, Taylor, Hackett, Moloney

Stevenage: Joronen, Franks, McCombe, Hughes, Okimo, Whelpdale (Akinyemi 68), Schumacher, Pett, Tonge, Conlon (Lee 87), Gnaduillet (Williams 80)

Subs not used: Day, Wells, Loza, Kennedy

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

Attendance: 4,492

Stevenage fans: 334