Northampton have not been a story in the FA Cup since George Best staged his six-goal masterclass 35 years ago, yet they can claim a modest achievement in the competition as a result of last night's comfortable replay success at Sixfields.
It earns them a trip to Crystal Palace and a place in the third round for the third consecutive season, something the club have not managed since before Manchester United won 8-2 in a fifth-round tie at the old County Ground in 1970.
Two strikes by Scott McGleish in the closing minutes of the first half put Colin Calderwood's side in control and while they could not improve the scoreline, their opponents were never a real threat. The Northampton manager declared himself well satisfied, although he was less pleased with the way McGleish chose to celebrate the first of his two goals.
The Northampton striker ran directly to the Stevenage dug-out and pretended to jab his team-mate Junior Mendes in the eyes, simulating the assault alleged to have been made by Lionel Perez, the Conference side's goalkeeping coach, on Northampton's coach Dave Watson during the 2-2 draw at Broadhall Lane 10 days ago.
The incident, caught by BBC television cameras, is the subject of a complaint by Watson against the former Sunderland goalkeeper Perez and is being investigated by police. McGleish was booked by the referee Darren Deadman. "In the circumstances it was an inappropriate thing to do but he paid for it with a booking," Calderwood said.
Northampton, seventh in League Two, included some familiar names - Eoin Jess, Jason Crowe and Ian Taylor - who had changed hands for £1m or more at their peaks. Dominating the first half, they took longer than they should, perhaps, to turn that into goals but after McGleish had pounced on 42 minutes, when Stevenage's goalkeeper Alan Julian failed to hold Martin Smith's shot, he soon added a second, rising unmarked at a corner in first-half stoppage time.
Stevenage added a third striker in Darryn Stamp at the start of the second half and, urged on by their bandaged captain Rob Quinn, there was life in them yet.
They were rarely able to test Lee Harper in the Northampton goal, though, while their commitment to attack left them vulnerable. Twice Calderwood's men had the chance to make themselves safe, first through a break led by Mendes, whose shot was beaten away by Julian, then through Jess, who blazed wildly over the bar from 12 yards.
Northampton Town (4-4-2): Harper; Bojic, Chambers, Doig, Crowe (Hunt, h-t); Low, Jess, Smith, Taylor (Dyche, 61); Mendes (Kirk, 80), McGleish. Substitutes not used: Gilligan, Poke (gk).
Stevenage Borough (4-4-2): Julian; Warner, Quinn, Laker (Gregory, 56), Perpetuini; Brough (Williams, 71), Berquez (Stamp, h-t), Bulman, Nurse; Boyd, Elding. Substitutes not used: Goodliffe, Gore (gk).
Referee: D Deadman (Hertfordshire).Reuse content