Chris Wilder led Northampton Town to victory over his former club Oxford United to complete their remarkable escape from League Two relegation.

The Cobblers trailed when Ryan Williams poked in for Oxford early on.

But Williams saw red for kicking Ricky Ravenhill and Northampton swiftly replied through John Marquis's cool finish and an Ivan Toney header.

Mathias Kouo-Doumbe headed in after the break to complete the comeback and keep the Cobblers in the Football League.

Wonderful Wilder

Since taking over on 27 January, Chris Wilder has picked up 28 points to steer Northampton to safety despite being six points adrift when he started the role.

Wilder's side had been entrenched in the bottom two since September until last week's win over Dagenham & Redbridge lifted them out of the mire and this was another vital victory for Northampton who, with Wycombe having won at Torquay, would have been relegated had they lost.

Eyebrows were raised in January when Wilder left Oxford to take over at the Cobblers, who were bottom of the league and six points adrift of safety.

But he has managed to pick up 28 points since arriving at Sixfields, and this win against his former employers secured the Football League status of a club who were beaten in the League Two play-off final just one year ago.

It started disastrously for the home side, as Williams got to Josh Ruffles's corner and nudged in from a few yards out.

With Wycombe already ahead at Torquay, it meant Northampton were below the dotted line and facing relegation, but they almost drew level when Toney raced clear and struck the post.

The game turned on its head with Williams's dismissal, as the Australian midfielder inexplicably kicked out at Ravenhill, and Gary Waddock's side, who have now lost eight of their last 10, were barely in the contest from that point.

Woeful Waddock

Since taking over in March, Gary Waddock has lost seven of the eight games he has been manager of Oxford United.

With the Cobblers piling on the pressure, Chris Hackett twice went close before Marquis latched on to Toney's flick-on and stroked the ball into the bottom corner.

Later 18-year-old Toney rose to head in Evan Horwood's cross for his third goal in two games and after the break substitute Kouo-Doumbe nodded in Hackett's free-kick at the back post to ease the nerves of the home support.

The U's rarely threatened and could have been further behind had Jake Wright not managed to scramble back and clear Emile Sinclair's goal-bound effort.

The Cobblers eased home regardless and the final whistle was the cue for hundreds of supporters to flood on to the pitch and celebrate a survival bid that seemed very unlikely four months ago.

Chris Wilder: Northampton boss on Oxford victory

Northampton Town manager Chris Wilder tells BBC Radio Northampton:

"I'm drained, but elated that we've retained our league status; I never wavered in my belief that this was a group of league players.

"We're one of the form teams over the last few months. Some people said the club was dead and buried so the player deserve an enormous amount of credit and we're going to have a good night.

"You don't want people jumping through hoops and saying it was a fantastic season - it wasn't. But we've kept the belief and the unity in the club has been unbelievable and I'm delighted myself and Alan Knill have played a part in taking us over the line."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Northampton Town

  • 01 Duke
  • 11 Hackett Booked
  • 25 Horwood
  • 29 Robertson Booked (Kouo-Doumbe - 45' )
  • 23 Diamond
  • 12 Tozer
  • 34 Ravenhill
  • 04 Carter
  • 09 Marquis Booked (Sinclair - 63' )
  • 24 Toney (Dickenson - 74' )
  • 08 Morris

Substitutes

  • 02 McSweeney
  • 05 Langmead
  • 07 Sinclair
  • 13 Snedker
  • 17 Deegan
  • 27 Kouo-Doumbe
  • 35 Dickenson

Oxford United

  • 01 Clarke
  • 34 Bevans
  • 03 Newey
  • 37 Ruffels
  • 06 Wright
  • 13 Hunt
  • 18 Davies
  • 17 Rose
  • 09 Constable (Marsh - 75' )
  • 08 Kitson (O'Dowda - 57' )
  • 15 Williams Dismissed

Substitutes

  • 05 Meades
  • 20 Marsh
  • 21 Crocombe
  • 22 Wroe
  • 30 Long
  • 33 Shama
  • 35 O'Dowda
Ref: Scott Duncan
Att: 7,529

Match Stats

Shots

11 7

On target

3 1

Corners

5 3

Fouls

17 7

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Northampton Town 3, Oxford United 1.

90:00 +4:15 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Northampton Town 3, Oxford United 1.

90:00 +3:23

Hand ball by Chris Hackett (Northampton Town).

90:00 +1:00

Attempt missed. Callum O'Dowda (Oxford United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

89:35 Booking

Booking Chris Hackett (Northampton Town) is shown the yellow card.

89:31

Foul by Chris Hackett (Northampton Town).

89:31

Tom Newey (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

84:00

Foul by Richard Ravenhill (Northampton Town).

84:00

Scott Davies (Oxford United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

83:07

Foul by Darren Carter (Northampton Town).

83:07

Callum O'Dowda (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

79:20

Foul by Chris Hackett (Northampton Town).

79:20

Callum O'Dowda (Oxford United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

74:39 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Oxford United. Tyrone Marsh replaces James Constable.

73:33 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Northampton Town. Brennan Dickenson replaces Ivan Toney.

72:57

Attempt missed. Emile Sinclair (Northampton Town) header from the centre of the box is too high.

71:09

Foul by Ben Tozer (Northampton Town).

71:09

Tom Newey (Oxford United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

70:17

Attempt blocked. Emile Sinclair (Northampton Town) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

69:31

Foul by Ivan Toney (Northampton Town).

69:31

David Hunt (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

67:00

Ivan Toney (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:56

Foul by Scott Davies (Oxford United).

66:25

Foul by Richard Ravenhill (Northampton Town).

66:25

Matt Bevans (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

62:26 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Northampton Town. Emile Sinclair replaces John Marquis.

62:06

John Marquis (Northampton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.

62:06

Foul by Callum O'Dowda (Oxford United).

60:44 Booking

Booking John Marquis (Northampton Town) is shown the yellow card.

57:30

Foul by Richard Ravenhill (Northampton Town).

57:30

James Constable (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:25 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Oxford United. Callum O'Dowda replaces Dave Kitson.

51:41

Matthias Kouo-Doumbe (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

51:41

Foul by Dave Kitson (Oxford United).

50:25 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Northampton Town 3, Oxford United 1. Matthias Kouo-Doumbe (Northampton Town) header from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by Chris Hackett with a cross.

49:24

Chris Hackett (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:24

Foul by Tom Newey (Oxford United).

47:37

Foul by James Constable (Oxford United).

47:37

Zander Diamond (Northampton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.

45:00

Second Half begins Northampton Town 2, Oxford United 1.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Northampton Town. Matthias Kouo-Doumbe replaces Gregor Robertson because of an injury.

45:00 +2:57 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Northampton Town 2, Oxford United 1.

45:00 +1:43

Attempt blocked. John Marquis (Northampton Town) right footed shot from very close range is blocked.

45:00 +1:04

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by David Hunt.

45:00 +0:28

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by David Hunt.

44:42

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by Josh Ruffels.

44:27

Attempt blocked. John Marquis (Northampton Town) header from the left side of the six yard box is blocked.

43:48

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by Matt Bevans.

42:37

Foul by David Hunt (Oxford United).

42:37

Ivan Toney (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

40:38

Delay in match Matt Bevans (Oxford United) because of an injury.

39:31

Matt Bevans (Oxford United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

39:31

Foul by John Marquis (Northampton Town).

38:19

Josh Ruffels (Oxford United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

38:19

Foul by Darren Carter (Northampton Town).

36:57

Attempt missed. Dave Kitson (Oxford United) left footed shot from more than 35 yards misses to the right.

32:54 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Northampton Town 2, Oxford United 1. Ivan Toney (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Evan Horwood.

30:27

Josh Ruffels (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

30:27

Foul by Richard Ravenhill (Northampton Town).

28:39 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Northampton Town 1, Oxford United 1. John Marquis (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ivan Toney.

28:07

Attempt missed. Chris Hackett (Northampton Town) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

26:47

Hand ball by John Marquis (Northampton Town).

26:03

Attempt missed. Chris Hackett (Northampton Town) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

25:11

Attempt missed. James Constable (Oxford United) header from the right side of the six yard box is high and wide to the right following a corner.

24:51

Corner, Oxford United. Conceded by Zander Diamond.

24:26

Attempt blocked. Scott Davies (Oxford United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

23:47

Josh Ruffels (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

23:47

Foul by Darren Carter (Northampton Town).

20:30 Booking

Booking Gregor Robertson (Northampton Town) is shown the yellow card.

20:24

James Constable (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

20:24

Foul by Gregor Robertson (Northampton Town).

19:21 Dismissal

Dismissal Ryan Williams (Oxford United) is shown the red card for fighting.

19:15

Foul by Ryan Williams (Oxford United).

19:15

Richard Ravenhill (Northampton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

14:42

Attempt missed. Ryan Williams (Oxford United) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

13:16

Corner, Northampton Town. Conceded by Matt Bevans.

13:01

Attempt blocked. John Marquis (Northampton Town) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

9:51

(Oxford United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

9:51

Foul by John Marquis (Northampton Town).

9:32

Ivan Toney (Northampton Town) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box.

8:23

Corner, Oxford United. Conceded by Gregor Robertson.

6:23 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Northampton Town 0, Oxford United 1. Ryan Williams (Oxford United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Danny Rose with a cross.

5:41

Corner, Oxford United. Conceded by Gregor Robertson.

3:22

Scott Davies (Oxford United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

3:22

Foul by Richard Ravenhill (Northampton Town).

0:52

Attempt blocked. James Constable (Oxford United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers