History was made at Ashton Gate tonight as Plymouth Argyle beat Northampton Town in a relegation playoff after the two sides finished joint 22nd in League 2, level on points, goal difference and goals scored – the three criteria which separates teams in the table.
Northampton won two more matches over the course of the season, but Plymouth had the better head-to-head record having won 3-2 away from home in September before a 1-1 draw at Home Park in January.
With Football League status at stake, the match was a cagey affair, with only one shot in the first-half – a long-range effort from Argyle defender Edu Campabadal (on loan from Wigan) that whistled over the bar.
As the match entered its final quarter of an hour, referee André Marriner pointed to the spot when Joe Widdowson bundled over Curtis Nelson in the box as both players tried to get on the end of a Conor Hourihane cross. Up stepped Luke Summerfield and he slotted home from twelve yards for his ninth – and most important – goal of the season.
Northampton Town have been relegated from the Football League for the first time in the club’s history. They finished bottom of the fourth-tier in 1994, but were spared as Conference champions Kidderminster Harriers weren’t promoted in their place due to stadium issues.
They’ll be replaced by Stockport County, and the winners of the Conference Playoff Final between Cambridge United and Grimsby Town.