Exeter boss Gary Caldwell hailed an “unbelievable” win after his side triumphed 2-1 away at Northampton despite playing the whole second half with 10 men.

Luke Harris steered the Grecians ahead at Sixfields but Ryan Woods saw red for violent conduct after clashing heads with Jon Guthrie on the stroke of half-time.

Northampton dominated possession in the second half but created little and even though Guthrie did bring them level, Exeter claimed all three points thanks to Will Aimson’s 83rd-minute winner.

“It was another brilliant display of character and team spirit,” said Caldwell. “I thought the way we started the game was excellent.

“We were surprised by their team, they showed us a lot of respect and changed formation and they locked onto our box and tried to stop us playing.

“But when we adjusted, I thought we caused them a lot of problems and we scored during that period and we could have scored more goals.

“The game then became a bit loose just before half-time and the sending off changes everything but this team fights and always finds a way and it was another unbelievable win.

“It’s not the first time we have won with 10 men this season and that’s all about resilience and character.”

On the red card, Caldwell said: “I think it’s really soft. There’s a coming together and he goes down very, very easily and the referee couldn’t wait to get his red card out.”

The defeat drops Northampton out of the top half of League One.

Manager Jon Brady said: “I actually thought we started really well. For 10 or 15 minutes we dominated the game, we stepped onto them and we had most of the ball.

“Exeter haven’t lost away from home since Christmas and they got back into it but we really stepped on the gas and we’ve hit the post and had shots cleared off the line.

“The goalkeeper’s put one onto the bar and another shot hits our player on the chest when it was going in so we should have scored two or three in that period, but we gave away a real sloppy goal for the first one.

“They then have a man sent off and they sit behind the ball and we get it back to 1-1 but did we really test their goal enough? Probably not.

“But then we give another goal away. We go to clear the ball and it hits their player on the foot and goes in. It’s disappointing because of course you want to finish with a win at home but it’s still been a brilliant season.”

Ten-man Exeter continued their excellent form with a late 2-1 victory at Northampton.

The Grecians played the whole second half a man down but extended their unbeaten run to nine games thanks to Will Aimson’s 83rd minute winner.

The visitors opened the scoring at Sixfields when Harris collected Dion Rankine’s pass on 20 minutes and fired in off the post.

Jake Richards went close to adding to City’s lead before an almighty goalmouth scramble at the other end saw Louis Appere, Mitch Pinnock and Marc Leonard all have efforts either blocked or saved.

Exeter lost a man in first-half stoppage-time with Ryan Woods sent off for violent conduct after clashing with home captain Jon Guthrie.

Northampton inevitably dominated possession in the second half but it took until the 74th minute for the equaliser to arrive when Exeter failed to deal with a long throw and Guthrie stabbed in the loose ball.

But despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors snatched victory thanks to Aimson, who ghosted in at the back post to convert Zak Jules’ cross seven minutes from time.

Charlie Adam praised Fleetwood’s “complete” performance as they claimed a 2-0 win at home to Northampton.

The victory – only a second in their last 13 games – keeps the Cod Army’s Sky Bet League One survival hopes just about alive, though they remain six points adrift of the safety zone with just three games left to play.

Boss Adam was clearly proud of what he also described as the best he had seen from his team since replacing Lee Johnson at the turn of the year.

“It was a complete performance from us today so I have to be delighted with that,” Adam said. “Right from the start of the game we were at it.

“We maintained a good shape throughout and we were well organised against a good Northampton team.

“Maybe two goals wasn’t enough – I definitely think we should have had more as we were so dominant.

“I’m just happy to take the three points.

“I always felt in control after the first 30 minutes when we just blew them away.

“This leaves us with three games now, and we need more clean sheets like this if we’re to have a chance of staying up.

“We can celebrate a brilliant win tonight but then straight away we have to re-focus on another huge game on Tuesday night.

“We’ve got to go to one of the best teams and toughest grounds in the league in Peterborough, but we have to go there with confidence now.”

Fleetwood were in control at half-time thanks to goals from Promise Omochere and Bosun Lawal.

Cobblers manager Jon Brady made a triple change at the interval and his side improved after the restart.

Ben Fox and Marc Leonard created decent opportunities but they rarely threatened a consolation goal.

Brady was disappointed with the outcome, and said: “I’ve already told the players that I’m not prepared to let the season just fade away because of the position we’re in.

“But fair play to Fleetwood today. They came out with all guns blazing and in the bad conditions here, we found it difficult to get out.

“I think it’s fair to say they out-fought us in the opening 20 or 30 minutes and they have got some really good players, despite their position in the table.

“We’ve conceded two poor goals, though. They came about due to our own doing, it was sloppy from us.

“It was quite difficult and they played the conditions well – we didn’t.

“It was as simple as that really. We overplayed things too much and with them getting the two goals quite early, we faced an uphill battle.

“We just didn’t do the basics right far too often. We didn’t get the ball forward quick enough or often enough.”

Fleetwood’s survival hopes continue to hang by a thread despite a hard-earned 2-0 victory against Northampton.

Charlie Adam’s men secured only a second win in 13 games but remain six points shy of the safety zone with just three matches to play.

Fleetwood opened the scoring after only five minutes, with Promise Omochere perfectly placed to tap home Bosun Lawal’s cross.

Omochere went close again with a header shortly afterwards, before the Cod Army did double their lead on the half-hour.

This time Lawal provided a tidy finish following a precise, measured pass from Brendan Wiredu.

Lawal later tried his luck from 35 yards but Cobblers goalkeeper Lee Burge was equal to the task.

Northampton came to life after making a triple switch for the start of the second half, with Sam Sherring and Kieron Bowie both going close to a leveller.

Bowie then saw a 20-yard strike deflected behind for a corner.

Ben Fox and Marc Leonard went closest to grabbing a consolation goal for the visitors as the game fizzled out late on.

Manager Paul Simpson admits Carlisle have “fallen well short” after his side’s relegation from League One was officially confirmed by Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Northampton.

A long way adrift at the bottom, Carlisle’s immediate return to League Two has looked inevitable for some time and their fate was duly sealed by goals from Kieron Bowie and Ali Koiki at a blustery Sixfields.

“It’s obviously a huge disappointment but the relegation isn’t on today, it’s on the whole season,” said Simpson.

“We had all of the excitement of the promotion last season but unfortunately we haven’t been able to follow it up and we have fallen well short.

“What we have to do now is regroup, have a look into what’s gone wrong and make sure we come back stronger and better next season and that’s the challenge going into the summer.”

Reflecting on the game itself, Simpson added: “It’s such a poor first goal to concede. We spoke about it and we worked on it about getting in early because they’ve got good delivery from set-pieces but we switch off and we allow them the first contact and they bundle it in.

“It wasn’t a great game and the conditions didn’t make it easy with the wind but it’s the story of our season because we started the game well and we got into good areas but we didn’t score when we were on top and then we conceded a poor goal.

“Now we need to make sure we get a strong group together so we can bounce back straightaway next season.”

Northampton are now up to 59 points, their second-highest points haul in the third tier this century.

“It’s a really good achievement and it’s testament to the players and their attitude,” said Cobblers boss Jon Brady.

“The wind and the conditions made it quite a turgid game today and it was hard for both teams.

“We actually wanted to win the toss and turn it around so we’d have the wind behind us but obviously we lost it and we had to go against the wind.

“The first half was really difficult and we couldn’t get out but we were gritty and determined and it was great to get the result.

“You feel for Carlisle, before the game you have to be focused and there’s no room for any sympathy but I had a chat with Paul Simpson afterwards and they are a good club with good people.

“We have similar budgets so it shows how well we’ve done and it’s taken a lot of hard work from everyone.”

Carlisle’s relegation from League One was confirmed after they were beaten 2-0 by Northampton.

The Cumbrians won promotion last season but their immediate return to League Two was sealed thanks to goals from Kieron Bowie and Ali Koiki.

Carlisle had a strong wind behind them in the first half at Sixfields and they used that to dominate territorially but the conditions did not help either side find their flow in a scrappy contest.

A rare chance saw Lee Burge tip over Georgie Kelly’s header before Northampton scored with their first real chance of the first half.

It came on 33 minutes when Sam Sherring’s header from a Mitch Pinnock corner was blocked and fell to Bowie who stabbed into the net.

Carlisle tried to force the issue in their pursuit of an equaliser after the break but they struggled against the wind and barely created a chance of note.

And their fate was sealed in stoppage time when Koiki ran the length of the pitch from a defensive corner and rolled the ball home after rounding goalkeeper Harry Lewis.

Reading manager Ruben Selles praised Portuguese goalkeeper Joel Pereira for his superb first-half display in the 1-0 Sky Bet League One victory over mid-table Northampton.

Pereira, formerly deputy to David Button in the Reading goal, kept his side in contention in the opening period with a series of fine saves to thwart the lively Cobblers attackers.

It set up the platform for home substitute Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan to secure the victory in the 65th minute with a superb curling shot from the edge of the penalty area.

“We made a change and Joel is fighting for that position [in goal] with everything he has,” Selles said.

“He was really good today, he kept us in the game in those [first half] moments.

“But I still don’t really think I got a big performance out of the team today, I just got a massive result.

“We did not get a massive performance, it was not our best game – nowhere near to being good enough from any of us.

“It was an equal game, both teams had chances. Northampton are a good team, a very solid team, but I expected a little bit more from us. I think that we can do better.

“Don’t misunderstand me, I will take a victory any day. The thing is that, in some games in the season, we played much better than we did today – and we didn’t get anything at all.

“Today was not our best – as a team, as a collective. But at least we were consistent enough to get the three points.”

Northampton have won only once in their past seven outings and boss Jon Brady said: “I’m quite pleased with the performance but the result is the disappointing thing today.

“In all our pre-game prep, I haven’t seen a team come here like we have and press Reading from the front. And the success we got from it.

“We had some really got chances in that first half. Sam [Hoskins] has two great efforts and their keeper makes two excellent saves. It’s fine margins today, isn’t it?

“We defended well, we pressed really well and we probably created more chances than we have in any game for a long while. Unfortunately, (we) just haven’t put the ball in the back of the net.

“And their goal was a little easy. We had worked so well all day, then they score.

“And the boys all know it. They’re just really disappointed about the result because of the way that we played.

“When Louis [Appere] went in one on one in the first half, he’s hit the target.

“But, again, their keeper has done really well. On other occasions, those sort of chances go in.”

Derby’s promotion hopes were dealt a major blow as they suffered a narrow 1-0 League One defeat at midtable Northampton.

The Cobblers’ first win in six games – and their first ever over Derby – came thanks to Sam Hoskins’ first-half strike, his 15th goal of the season.

Derby dominated possession early on and they should taken a 20th-minute lead but Martyn Waghorn side-footed the ball over with the goal at his mercy.

Northampton struck against the run of play midway through the first half when Louis Appere chased down a long ball and showed brilliant vision to pick out Hoskins, who volleyed first time into the bottom corner.

The visitors responded well but they could not find a leveller before half-time despite Ebou Adams twice going close, first denied by Sam Sherring’s goal-line clearance and then heading over when well placed.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing almost converted Kane Wilson’s cross after the restart before Manny Monthe hit the post at the other end.

Derby applied plenty of late pressure but could find no way through Northampton’s resilient rearguard and their misery was compounded by a straight red card for Sonny Bradley in stoppage-time.

Wycombe boss Matt Bloomfield hailed January signing Matt Butcher’s brilliance after his second-half brace sealed a 2-0 win over Northampton.

Butcher’s double – his first goals for the club – also completed a hat-trick of victories for Wycombe, although he waited until the 69th minute to break the deadlock.

Bloomfield insists the win is a wider reflection on Wycombe’s positive direction, though he remained fully focused on Sky Bet League One despite the fact they have a Wembley final against Peterborough next month.

He said: “As soon as I heard a whisper he (Butcher) was available I knew we had to get him.

“He’s been fantastic since coming to the football club and exactly what we needed.

“There’s been a lot of exciting news lately. There’s been too much talk of Wembley for my liking because I want to focus on these league games.

“The board have been amazing in their support and the hard work behind the scenes to provide better times ahead for this football club.

“I always felt our performances weren’t far away and now the work the boys have put in all season is being rewarded with wins.

“It was a stop-start first half, but in the second we found a spark and fresh energy.

“The boys that came on off the bench did that for us and that’s their job.

“I’m really pleased with the performance and the result. We’ve started to get the results that our performances have deserved.”

In contrast, one win in seven games makes for poor reading in the latter part of Northampton’s season.

Boss Jon Brady insisted he does not want the defeat to signal an end to his side’s campaign as their dismal recent form leaves little to fight for.

He said: “I said to the boys I think it’s a mindset. I don’t want the season to drift, I want to finish strong.

“The game was scrappy. You come to Wycombe and you know you’ll have to battle and fight.

“I thought there was nothing in the game until the first goal and it was a very soft goal, as was the second.

“We come away very frustrated on the day.

“The second one was looped into the back corner and it should be saved, but there you go.

“We had little half chances, but not much more than that. The differences are in both boxes. We shouldn’t concede those two goals.

“Even if we aren’t scoring at the other end, we should come out of that game 0-0.

“We got ourselves in a good position, but we need to be better and get our edge.

“I feel that we’ve lost our edge in our mindset and our play as well.”

Matt Butcher bagged a brace as Wycombe made it a hat-trick of league wins with a 2-0 victory over Northampton.

The mid-table clash looked destined to peter out into a dour draw before Butcher lit up Adams Park with his first and second league goals for the club.

Home goalkeeper Franco Ravizzoli was the first to be tested as he kept out Tony Springett’s effort low to his left.

Louie Moulden denied Freddie Potts a goal to savour from 25 yards after Gideon Kodua headed the ball into his path.

After the break, Dale Taylor was denied by the visiting keeper.

But the deadlock was broken in the 69th minute as Kieran Sadlier took a quick throw to Butcher, who drove into the box and fired into the far corner.

Down the other end, Ravizzoli kept out Kieron Bowie one-on-one.

Butcher’s second was even better as he curled home a fine strike, after being found by Sadlier again, with five minutes to go.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley hailed a job well done by his side after their 1-0 victory at Northampton on Tuesday.

A cagey first half at Sixfields yielded little in the way of clear-cut chances but Blackpool took control after the break, with Matt Pennington making the crucial breakthrough.

The visitors then defended well and limited Northampton to very few opportunities as they moved to within one point of the play-off places.

“I thought we played well and we looked like a good team,” said Critchley. “We played with belief and a bit of arrogance.

“They changed their shape and they changed their team and paid us a bit of respect but we had good control of the game and we said at half-time to be patient and keep doing the right things.

“If we kept passing it, they’ll tire, and to score from a set-piece was really nice because that’s something we have worked on and it’s something we highlighted that we needed to improve.

“Their goalkeeper made an unbelievable save from Marvin Ekpiteta in the first half but we felt the ball crossed the line, so to score from another set-piece in the second half was pleasing.

“After we scored, without the ball, we looked really assured and it was a composed and controlled performance.

“We’ve only lost one in six and that’s now three consecutive clean sheets so we’re in good form and we feel we’re building momentum.

“Tonight’s gone, we have eight games to go this season and now we’re focused on Wigan on Saturday.”

Northampton boss Jon Brady was not too downhearted despite his side’s toothless performance.

He said: “In my opinion it shows how far we’ve come because we feel a little bit disappointed and the fans are a little bit disappointed and we’re playing against Blackpool.

“They were tipped for automatic promotion this season and they are a team going for the play-offs and they have some very good players, but possession-wise I felt we went toe-to-toe with them.

“We couldn’t find the solutions in attack because they dropped back into shape in the second half and they were very hard to break down. They are a very good side and have destroyed a lot of good teams recently.

“I thought there were spells where we played well but they score a goal from a set-piece, a scrappy goal, and that’s disappointing because we should defend that better and it’s the key moment in the game.”

Blackpool moved to within a point of the League One play-offs with a 1-0 victory at Northampton on Tuesday.

Matt Pennington’s scrappy second-half strike was the difference as the Seasiders closed the gap on the teams above them.

The Cobblers were first to threaten at Sixfields when Kieron Bowie set his sights from the edge of the box but his shot was straight down the throat of Dan Grimshaw.

Chances were at a premium in the first half but Blackpool thought they had opened the scoring through Marvin Ekpiteta, whose effort hit the underside of the crossbar and seemingly bounced over the line only for the officials not to award a goal.

Pennington headed another chance over for the visitors but it was not until the second half when the game opened up.

After Jordan Rhodes shot into the side-netting, Blackpool made the breakthrough 10 minutes after the restart when Karamoko Dembele’s free-kick led to an almighty scramble in the box with Pennington stabbing in the loose ball.

Northampton had struggled to create anything of note all game and that continued after the goal, with the visitors comfortably seeing out victory.

Garry Monk felt Cambridge showed signs of what they can be capable of in his first match as manager.

Cambridge looked on course to mark Monk’s first match with a victory but Northampton dominated territory in the second half and ensured the points were shared courtesy of Jon Guthrie’s late goal.

The Us moved a point further away from the relegation zone with the 1-1 draw, ending a run of four straight losses and sitting five points above the drop zone with 10 games remaining.

“The positive of it is that we’ve stopped that run of results,” said Monk, whose side had led through Elias Kachunga.

“As much as the aim is the three points, every point will count. So I’m pleased on that side of it from the players.

“Quite understandably in that second half, where you haven’t won for a while and you haven’t got points, that kind of protective mentality comes in where you’ve got the points and it feels close, and then you’re maybe a bit too protective and stop doing what we were doing with the ball and being that threat.

“It allowed Northampton to come much more into the game in that second half. That’s stuff to work on, for sure. I probably expected a little bit of that, but I can’t complain. The players were great.

“I’ve always said that if you can’t win a game then make sure you don’t lose it. They did everything to make sure they didn’t lose that game. We can be better but that first half’s a really good indication of what they can be capable of.”

Jon Brady spoke highly of his Northampton side as they collected a point following a 5-1 loss to Peterborough on Tuesday.

“It has to be a good point,” he said. “It’s a bit of a milestone to get to 50.

“Our remit was to maintain our League One status, then we can breathe a sigh of relief. To do what we’ve done so far, without patting ourselves on the back yet, is a fantastic achievement.

“We’ve had nine out in the last three weeks, one’s a goalkeeper and six are defenders so we’re shuffling the pack all over the place with no consistency.

“There’s some constraints to us and we’re still putting in that performance. I’m really proud of the character of the team.”

Speaking of his message at half-time, Brady spoke of the need for “a lot more purpose, move the ball quicker, a few tactical elements to get round the sides a bit quicker”.

He added: “I thought we did, and we dominated possession and they were hardly in our half.

“Tuesday night was so tough to take, to bounce back like this today even after going 1-0 down shows you huge character.”

Garry Monk’s first game as Cambridge head coach ended in a 1-1 draw with Northampton.

Monk was appointed on Monday after over three years without a management role, and Jon Guthrie’s late header denied him a debut victory.

His Us side went ahead with their first meaningful attack on 16 minutes, Elias Kachunga firing in after neat interplay between Liam Bennett and Jack Lankester.

Northampton almost scored direct from a corner before keeper Jack Stevens punched Marc Leonard’s delivery away on the line, while Kachunga could have added a second when volleying Lyle Taylor’s cross wide with the last action of the first half.

The Cobblers pressed hard for an equaliser after the break, with Liam Moore’s header deflected off target and Ben Fox shooting wide from the edge of the box just before the hour.

Visiting boss Jon Brady was booked by referee Declan Bourne, seconds before his side drew level eight minutes from the end when captain Guthrie beat Stevens to the ball and headed home Leonard’s free-kick.

Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson feels his side are hitting top form again as the race for promotion in Sky Bet League One intensifies after they hammered rivals Northampton 5-1 in the Nene derby.

This was the Posh’s third league win in a row which moved them to within five points of second-placed Bolton, with their current run coming after four straight defeats threatened to derail their push.

Ferguson said: “We had a blip and they’re a young group – if we had gone through the season without a blip, I would have been surprised.

“When you go through bad times in the season, you have to make sure you’re strong enough to go back and improve when you’ve made mistakes, failures and losses because they’re the ones that define the season.

“We had to make sure we got over that and there’s no question the Blackpool game (in the semi-finals of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy) to get to Wembley has really been a huge shift in momentum.

“But then to win three league games, two of them derbies, is a credit to my players.

“It was all-round a very good performance.

“I thought each member of the team and the subs, it was all-round a very confident performance, and it was a very good result.”

Northampton led after nine minutes when Marc Leonard’s cross was headed in by Jon Guthrie, but Peterborough never looked back after Ephron Mason-Clarks’ 25th-minute equaliser from Jaden Katongo’s low ball across.

Kwame Poku’s whipped finish completed the turnaround three minutes later before Joel Randall poked in a third for the Posh after Poku’s mishit ran off Jack Sowerby.

Hector Kyprianou’s header just before the hour effectively made the game safe, with Josh Knight completing the rout five minutes later after Randall’s corner wasn’t cleared.

Northampton boss Jon Brady said: “We’ve got to hold our hands up and that’s a tough night that’s tough to take against your local rivals, but hats off to them, I thought they were excellent.

“I thought the goals we gave away were very soft tonight.

“We started off, we got the goal then conceded two pretty quick goals and it wasn’t good enough thereafter.

“I’m not going to paper over any cracks and we’ve got to hold our hands up, we’ve got to defend better and be more solid in those moments – defensively we weren’t good enough.

“We’ve got to defend those goals so much better and we’ve got to make sure we get it right for Saturday (at Cambridge) and bounce back.

“We were very good earlier on in the season when we beat them at home 1-0, and today we had a bad night and we’ve got to make sure we get it right on Saturday.”

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