Northampton Town have been promoted to League One after earning a 1-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers thanks to star player Sam Hoskins. Their 1-0 win at Prenton Park sealed a place in the third tier for 2023-24 as Stockport County were held to a 1-1 draw with Hartlepool United.
It all came 12 months after Northampton had their hearts broken in dramatic fashion when they failed to gain automatic promotion to League One having been sat in third heading into the final day. They did their part by beating Barrow 3-1, with Hoskins scoring twice, but fourth-placed Bristol Rovers won one of the craziest games of football to complete a mad final day as they thrashed Scunthorpe United 7-0 to overcome a five-goal swing and get promoted on goals scored.
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So when a similar situation looked to be unfolding on the final day this time around, there were a lot of nerves on show amongst the Cobblers supporters. But Hoskins got the Cobblers off to a perfect start inside five minutes with a stunning volley from the edge of the box into the right side of the goal, underlining why he was named the EFL League Two Player of the Season. That took his goal tally for the season to 22 and that might just have been his favourite of the lot because of the execution and what it meant for his side’s season.
Tranmere started to grow into the game after the goal and they had a shout for a penalty when Josh Hawkes' cross struck the outstretched arm of Sam Sherring. The defender got away with it, but the contact with his arm was deemed to be accidental by the officials.
Elsewhere, Stockport County were able to take the lead against relegated Hartlepool United through a Callum Camps penalty after the attacker was tripped inside the area. The Hatters had a goal disallowed earlier but they managed to get in front just before the break to keep the pressure on Northampton.
At Prenton Park, the hosts continued to apply pressure on Northampton, but there was a sigh of relief in the away end as news came in that Callum Cooke had equalised for Hartlepool at Edgeley Park. Still, though, a vital second goal was proving elusive for the Cobblers, and as the game started to open up there were attacks at either end.
The travelling fans went wild late on when the news came through that Stockport's Camps had had a penalty saved late on against Pools and they started celebrating promotion as soon as it was known that Stockport's game was over. It was a great achievement for Jon Brady and his players.
In the race for the play-offs, Mansfield Town headed into the afternoon needing to win as a minimum but Carlisle United, Salford City and Bradford City all had to lose by a few goals for them to creep into the top seven either on goal difference or goals scored. They did their part in managing to win at Colchester United thanks to Riley Harbottle and James Gale. But with Bradford drawing with champions Leyton Orient, and Salford and Carlisle only losing by one goal to Gillingham and Sutton United respectively, they couldn’t pull off the greatest of tasks as they fell just one goal shy of taking Salford's place.
Another excellent League Two regular season comes to a close, but the drama of the play-offs is next on the agenda.
Stockport County v Salford City
Carlisle United v Bradford City