Cheltenham took control of their League Two play-off semi-final against Northampton after Charlie Raglan’s header and a late strike from Conor Thomas gave them a priceless 2-0 away win in Thursday’s first leg.
The Robins were boosted by an impressive goalkeeping display from Owen Evans, who kept out Cobblers midfielder Ryan Watson’s low first-half penalty shortly before an unmarked Raglan glanced the visitors in front from a corner.
On-loan Wigan goalkeeper Evans then produced several more good saves as Keith Curle’s side pushed for an equaliser, before Thomas slotted in a close-range rebound to double Cheltenham’s advantage four minutes from time.
A small number of fans were seen trying to watch the match from a vantage point on a grass bank just outside the stadium, with no supporters allowed inside the ground on what was the first night of English Football League action since March’s suspension of fixtures.
In the other semi-final first leg earlier on Thursday, hosts Colchester beat Exeter 1-0 thanks to a late free-kick from left-back Cohen Bramall, in a cagey match that was low of chances. But the game at Cobblers’ PTS Academy Stadium was far more eventful.
More to follow.