Football: Swansea run over by Frain

Northampton Town 1 Frain 90 Swansea City 0 Attendance: 46,804
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Only five years since being pounds 1.6m in debt and on the verge of extinction, Northampton have now not only appeared at Wembley for the first time but, thanks to an injury-time free-kick from John Frain, emerged from an eventually dramatic but endlessly ordinary play-off to reach the Second Division.

It was certainly not a match to place in Wembley's archives but for Northampton and for Frain himself it was a remarkable recovery from the edge of despair. Earlier this season this unsung defender was loaned to Northampton after long service to Birmingham and had serious doubts about his playing future. He signed full-time terms with Northampton only on transfer-deadline day.

Northampton would probably not have been at Wembley at all were it not for Kidderminster being stopped from joining the League three years ago. They would have dropped out altogether but Kidderminster's ground was not considered to be up to the League's standards so they stayed down and Northampton stayed up.

Staying in contention was Northampton's first problem yesterday when a dipping volley from Carl Heggs gave the goalkeeper, Andy Woodman, an awkward first touch. Jan Molby enjoyed the encouragement and began strolling the pitch like an overweight, ageing ex-pro who runs the local pub but still decorates a Sunday-morning match with some pinpoint passing.

After 25 minutes, it was Molby who almost opened the door to early problems for Swansea when, flippantly, he gave the ball away to Neil Grayson who moved it on to Sean Parrish. However, his shot was blocked by Christian Edwards and the game tightened thereafter.

A pleasant burst of rare positive thinking and enterprising movement by Northampton's Lee early in the second half could easily have improved what had become an earnest but ragged affair. A fine deep and dangerous cross from Frain found him well-placed and unhindered in the penalty area but he failed to take advantage. His header was threatening but that was all, a representative summary of an occasion that was all atmosphere but contained little exciting or truly skilful activity.

Only the pressure of time forced a fiery response. The strength in the air of Northampton's John Gayle had invariably been overcome by the good organisation of Swansea's defence, but when, at last, he freed himself to meet another well- executed centre from Frain, his header merely skimmed the bar.

There was no avoiding the feeling that this was a game too far for both teams and that it would take something plucked out of the bag to take one or other into the higher division. Dramatically, it all happened in the third minute of injury time when Northampton were awarded a free- kick just outside the penalty area. Frain stepped up and hit the ball hard into the wall but the defenders had encroached and, for a pleasant change, a referee insisted on a re-take. This time Frain added some extra pace and the ball cut inside the far post.

Northampton Town: Woodman; Sampson, Rennie (Peer, 40), Warburton, Frain; Hunter, Parrish, Gayle (White, 76); Clarkson, Grayson, Lee. Substitute not used: Gibb.

Swansea City: Freestone; Penney, Edwards, Walker, Moreira; Ampadu, Molby, Coates; Torpey, Heggs, Thomas (Brown, 83). Substitutes not used: Chapple, Lacey.

Referee: T Heilbron (Durham).

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