Last-gasp Williams strike secures dramatic win for Cobblers over Stevenage
Cobblers started 2020 in highly dramatic fashion when Andy Williams struck deep, deep into stoppage-time to snatch victory over bottom-of-the-table Stevenage at the PTS Stadium on New Year's Day.
This was a dour and drab affair throughout and for so long a goalless draw seemed inevitable but Williams, a half-time substitute, had other ideas when he ran through on goal in the fourth minute of stoppage-time and kept his nerve to drill the ball home for a dramatic victory.
Earlier Paul Farman was the far busier goalkeeper and made several good stops, particularly in the first-half, but Stevenage, without an away league win this season, would have been good value for a point until the late drama.
Cobblers have now won seven of their past eight games at home and return to the play-off places in Sky Bet League Two.
Scott Pollock replaced Williams in the only change from Sunday's draw against Cheltenham, and Cobblers should have been ahead inside 90 seconds when an unmarked Vadaine Oliver headed Nicky Adams' cross too close to Farman.
Ben Kennedy's free-kick hit the wall for Stevenage before Farman's services were required for a second time on 10 minutes, the visiting stopper flying away to his left to keep out Charlie Goode's header.
But Stevenage hadn't started like a team without an away league victory all season and they were more than a match for their promotion-chasing hosts in the first-half, though rarely threatened David Cornell's goal.
Eventually Town improved and enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure around the half-hour mark as Farman made a couple of routine stops before producing his best save of the half, getting down well to tip away Sam Hoskins' low volley.
Kennedy provided a reminder of Boro's threat when he rattled the crossbar after being allowed to charge into the penalty box, and there was a feisty end to the first-half with Michael Harriman and Paul Anderson booked and Kennedy squaring up to Goode.
Keith Curle made a double change at the break, sending on Williams and Chris Lines, but if anything the quality of the game deteriorated further in the second-half.
That suited the lowly visitors just fine and they were the team who had the better moments in the early part of the half as Elliott List's shot was blocked and Michael Timlin;s shot whistled wide.
Williams missed a big chance midway through the half when he latched onto Oliver's flick-on but got too much on his attempted lob while Oliver was close with a couple of headers.
Cornell tipped over Kennedy's fierce drive and Goode headed against the post as time ticked away, and there was a dramatic finish in store when, with virtually the last act, the ball dropped to Williams who drove into the box and drilled inside the near post, sparking scenes of wild celebration among fans and players.
Cobblers: Cornell, Goode, Wharton, Turnbull, Harriman (Lines 45), Watson (Warburton 65), Pollock (Williams 45), Anderson, Adams, Hoskins, Oliver.
Subs not used: Arnold, Hall-Johnson, Martin, Waters
Stevenage: Farman, Digby, Stokes (Smyth 90), Soares, Parrett, Nugent, Lakin, List (Vancooten 89), Timlin, Kennedy, Cowley (Mackail-Smith 57)
Subs not used: Bastien, Taylor, Fernandez
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Stevenage fans: 252