Northampton Town: Arsenal’s 1989 heroics inspire play-off comeback

Manager Keith Curle congratulates Charlie Goode following Northampton’s victory

Northampton Town’s remarkable League Two play-off semi-final comeback was inspired by Arsenal’s dramatic First Division title win at Liverpool in 1988-89, says manager Keith Curle.

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, the Cobblers won 3-0 at Cheltenham Town to book a place in the Wembley decider.

Arsenal needed a win by two clear goals to snatch the title at Anfield and did so with a late Michael Thomas strike.

“We showed them the [89] documentary,” Curle told BBC Radio Northampton.

“We did a video analysis after the first game and I think all the players thought they’d be seeing clips of the game back – but we didn’t (show them that).

“It’s not an easy thing to do to go to Anfield and score two goals to win, but that Arsenal team did it.

“It resonated with me and I wanted to pass that on to the players that if you believe, something can happen.”

Northampton will play Exeter City in a behind-closed-doors final at Wembley on 29 June as they look to return to League One two years after being relegated following a 2-2 draw with Oldham on the last day of the season.

Michael Thomas scores Arsenal’s title-winning goal at Anfield 31 years ago

George Graham’s Gunners had to wait until the final moments to take the silverware 31 years ago, when Thomas fired past Bruce Grobbelaar to add to Alan Smith’s early second-half goal.

But Northampton made their breakthrough in their behind-closed-doors game at Cheltenham within nine minutes thanks to Vadaine Oliver’s downward header.

Callum Morton added two goals to settle the tie after the break, the pivotal third coming 13 minutes from time.

“We spoke about our plan – the first goal was vitally important,” former England defender Curle added.

“When it was going to come we didn’t know.

“I have to say, the application of the players, the attitude and focus of the players was very good, and they should be very proud.”