Port Vale all but secured automatic promotion to League One after a draw with play-off-bound Northampton.

A late own goal from ex-Vale man Lee Collins virtually assured Vale of League One football because of their vastly superior goal difference.

Earlier, a Clarke Carlisle strike put the Cobblers ahead after two minutes.

Liam Chilvers then headed in Tom Pope's delivery to bring Vale level, but Roy O'Donovan's effort put the visitors back in front before Collins' own goal.

The defender attempted to clear a seemingly harmless delivery from Vale substitute Chris Birchall, but instead sliced the ball over his own goalkeeper from 12 yards, sparking a pitch invasion on the final whistle at Vale Park, which was playing host to its largest crowd in 15 years.

The match had begun with Vale on the back foot and the visitors quickly took the initiative when Ben Harding's corner was forced in from close range by Carlisle.

Northampton pressed for a second, but shortly after they saw Luke Gutteridge hit the crossbar, League Two Player of the Year Pope crossed for Chilvers to power home a downward header and put the hosts level just before half-time.

A tense opening 20 minutes followed after the break before O'Donovan's rasping shot from the edge of the area flew into the top corner to give the Cobblers the lead again.

However, Vale are the top scorers in English League football and were not to be denied with Collins' misfortune all but ending their five-year exile from League One.

The draw left Vale three points clear of fourth-placed Cheltenham and only a highly unlikely 28-goal swing on the final day of the season could deprive them of automatic promotion.

The result also meant Northampton are guaranteed a place in the play-offs after Exeter were beaten by Cheltenham.

VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Northampton Town manager Aidy Boothroyd tells BBC Radio Northampton:

"Of course we would have liked to have gone up automatically, but that would have been an unbelievable achievement. We'll settle for a believable achievement for now.

"David Moyo was outstanding. We knew his pace was cause trouble and we hoped our midfield players could get on the ball.

"We should've won the game but we've experienced a big crowd and we're going to need to put that sort of performance in when it comes to the away game in the play-offs.

"Come the play-offs, we'll have everybody fit. That was the decision that I made, and I still thought we could get something here. But for a freak own-goal, we would've done."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (3)

Port Vale

  • 01 Neal
  • 02 Yates
  • 06 Purse (Shuker - 77' )
  • 25 Chilvers
  • 36 Jones
  • 04 Griffith (Morsy - 73' )
  • 07 Loft
  • 09 Myrie-Williams
  • 08 Dodds (Birchall - 73' )
  • 11 Pope
  • 29 Hughes Booked

Substitutes

  • 12 Johnson
  • 05 McCombe
  • 24 Duffy
  • 15 Shuker
  • 18 Morsy
  • 22 Lloyd
  • 26 Birchall

Northampton

  • 21 Nicholls
  • 02 Johnson
  • 06 Collins
  • 12 Tozer
  • 30 Carlisle Booked
  • 04 Guttridge Booked
  • 08 Harding
  • 11 Hackett Booked
  • 22 Hornby
  • 28 O'Donovan
  • 29 Moyo

Substitutes

  • 13 Snedker
  • 15 Cameron
  • 25 Dias
  • 10 Akinfenwa
  • 16 Wilson
  • 17 Robinson
Ref: Hill
Att: 12,496

Match Stats

Shots

6 3

On target

4 2

Corners

8 5

Fouls

8 17

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:30 Full time

Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.

90:00 +1:56

Jennison Myrie-Williams fouled by John Johnson, the ref awards a free kick. Jennison Myrie-Williams restarts play with the free kick.

87:57

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Liam Chilvers by David Moyo. Adam Yates takes the free kick.

85:21 Goal scored

Goal! - Lee Collins - Port Vale 2 - 2 Northamp'n Lee Collins puts the ball into his own goal from 6 yards. Port Vale 2-2 Northampton.

84:00

Tom Pope concedes a free kick for a foul on John Johnson. Free kick taken by Lee Nicholls.

82:42

Tom Pope gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Lewis Hornby. Ben Tozer restarts play with the free kick.

79:52

The referee penalises Sam Morsy for handball. Lee Nicholls restarts play with the free kick.

79:34

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Chris Shuker from the right by-line.

79:00

Corner taken right-footed by Chris Shuker to the near post, Luke Guttridge makes a clearance.

77:38

Chris Shuker takes the free kick.

77:38 Booking

Booking Chris Hackett receives a yellow card.

77:23

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Daniel Jones by Chris Hackett.

76:27 Substitution

Substitution Chris Shuker replaces Darren Purse.

73:21

Ben Harding takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Liam Chilvers.

72:18 Substitution

Substitution (Port Vale) makes a substitution, with Sam Morsy coming on for Anthony Griffith.

72:18 Substitution

Substitution (Port Vale) makes a substitution, with Chris Birchall coming on for Louis Dodds.

71:01

Free kick taken by Daniel Jones.

71:01 Booking

Booking Luke Guttridge is booked.

70:51

Luke Guttridge gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jennison Myrie-Williams.

68:44 Goal scored

Goal! - Roy O'Donovan - Port Vale 1 - 2 Northamp'n Roy O'Donovan finds the net with a goal from outside the penalty box to the top right corner of the goal. Port Vale 1-2 Northampton.

63:22

Handball decision goes against Luke Guttridge. Chris Neal restarts play with the free kick.

62:02

Inswinging corner taken by Jennison Myrie-Williams from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Lewis Hornby.

60:54

Unfair challenge on Anthony Griffith by Roy O'Donovan results in a free kick. Jennison Myrie-Williams restarts play with the free kick.

60:17

Free kick awarded for a foul by Luke Guttridge on Darren Purse. Chris Neal takes the free kick.

59:38

Adam Yates fouled by Ben Harding, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Adam Yates.

57:52

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Hughes by Lee Collins. Jennison Myrie-Williams restarts play with the free kick.

56:58

Liam Chilvers gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Moyo. Clarke Carlisle restarts play with the free kick.

56:00

Lee Collins concedes a free kick for a foul on Tom Pope. Direct free kick taken by Jennison Myrie-Williams.

51:49

Foul by Tom Pope on John Johnson, free kick awarded. Lee Nicholls restarts play with the free kick.

50:24

Corner from right by-line taken by Ben Harding.

45:01

The second half kicks off.

45:00 +3:38 Half time

Half Time The half-time whistle blows.

45:00 +2:42

Jennison Myrie-Williams gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ben Harding. Direct free kick taken by Chris Hackett.

45:00 +1:30

Luke Guttridge fouled by Anthony Griffith, the ref awards a free kick. Lee Nicholls takes the direct free kick.

45:00 +0:22 Booking

Booking Booking for Lee Hughes.

44:31

Luke Guttridge gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Liam Chilvers. Chris Neal takes the free kick.

41:12

Chris Hackett takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Lee Hughes.

39:44

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jennison Myrie-Williams, Liam Chilvers takes a shot. David Moyo gets a block in.

38:00 Goal scored

Goal! - Liam Chilvers - Port Vale 1 - 1 Northamp'n Liam Chilvers finds the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Port Vale 1-1 Northampton.

37:22

Corner taken by Jennison Myrie-Williams from the right by-line to the near post.

34:27

Jennison Myrie-Williams takes a inswinging corner.

33:45

Anthony Griffith takes a shot.

29:23

Lee Hughes takes a shot. Lee Nicholls makes a save.

26:12

Jennison Myrie-Williams takes the inswinging corner, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Tom Pope goes harmlessly over the crossbar.

24:06

Inswinging corner taken by Ben Harding, clearance by Louis Dodds.

23:05

Luke Guttridge gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Anthony Griffith. Free kick taken by Liam Chilvers.

20:50

The referee blows for offside against Lee Hughes. Lee Nicholls restarts play with the free kick.

19:16

John Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Jennison Myrie-Williams. Chris Neal restarts play with the free kick.

16:29

Tom Pope challenges Clarke Carlisle unfairly and gives away a free kick. Lee Nicholls restarts play with the free kick.

16:08

Unfair challenge on Tom Pope by Lee Collins results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Darren Purse.

14:29

Tom Pope gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Lee Collins. Direct free kick taken by Lee Nicholls.

11:07

Liam Chilvers restarts play with the free kick.

11:07 Booking

Booking Booking for Clarke Carlisle for unsporting behaviour.

11:01

Clarke Carlisle challenges Tom Pope unfairly and gives away a free kick.

8:48

Chris Hackett concedes a free kick for a foul on Daniel Jones. Liam Chilvers takes the direct free kick.

6:42

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tom Pope by Clarke Carlisle. Free kick taken by Darren Purse, Louis Dodds takes a shot. Lee Collins gets a block in.

4:55

Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Jennison Myrie-Williams, David Moyo manages to make a clearance.

3:06

Tom Pope fouled by Lee Collins, the ref awards a free kick. Jennison Myrie-Williams takes the free kick.

1:58 Goal scored

Goal! - Clarke Carlisle - Port Vale 0 - 1 Northamp'n Clarke Carlisle grabs a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Port Vale 0-1 Northampton.

1:37

Inswinging corner taken by Ben Harding from the right by-line played to the near post,

0:00

The game begins.

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