Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers side pulled off a stunning 7-0 triumph on Saturday afternoon to leapfrog Northampton Town and into the League Two automatic promotion spots in the nick of time, despite the latter side achieving a 3-1 win of their own on the final day. Rovers needed to better Northampton’s result by a huge five-goal margin to complete the unlikely feat, and bottom-of-the-table Scunthorpe United proved the perfect punching bags to facilitate the turnaround.
Rovers sealed their promotion to League One in the most dramatic fashion possible, having been outside the top three for the entire season. Northampton looked to be cruising when three first-half goals against Barrow left their promotion rivals needing to score eight.
But a flurry of late goals from Rovers saw them put seven past Scunthorpe, who were already relegated and fielded a young side with an average age of just 20. A goal from Barrow’s Josh Kay saw Northampton’s match finish 3-1, giving Rovers the necessary five-goal swing to leapfrog into the automatic spots.
A huge pitch invasion after the seventh goal at the Memorial Stadium almost saw the referee abandon the match as one fan fell injured, and a lengthy delay ensued while Northampton fans watched on with fingers crossed. Riot police were called into the ground before play resumed.
Barton also had to plead with supporters to sit tight during the closing stages of the match. Rovers held their nerve once play got back underway, consigning the ‘Cobblers’ to the play-offs in agonising fashion.
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