Run and Football 2023-24 Match 2

A treble this week all at different grounds with our main match being Northampton Town V Stevenage Borough in League One. Hartlepool and Sunderland are stadiums I have visited before. All three matches are a family affair with son Jacob, my brother Ross and nephew Matt attending.

It doesn’t start well with Ross and Matt spilling tomato soup all over the back seat before we have even left County Durham. Matt cleans it up with a white hoodie which can’t be a good idea. The rest of the journey is uneventful and we reach Northampton in plenty of time for me to go for a run.

Sixfields Stadium Northampton

Going For A Run

The Grand Union Canal runs from Birmingham to London through Northampton. It opened the spur through the town in1815. From the map it is only a short distance away from the ground so ideal for a run. Rain is lashing down and there aren’t many people around apart from those walking to the game.

Canal art

After a couple of miles running along the waterway I’ve seen a Heron and two Swans not enjoying the rain as much as I am. I turn around at one of the bridges and make my way back to Sixfields. After running around the side of a nice lake between the Grand Union Canal and River Nene I’m back in a built up area.

Lake between the canal and river

I spot a sign for Franklins Gardens and head in that direction. The Northampton Saints Ground is locked up but even through the gates it is obviously a different layout for rugby than football with hospitality tents and benches to sit on before entering the stadium itself. In the damp weather it didn’t look like much fun.

Sixfields Stadium

Soon after finding my first hill of the day I arrive back at the football ground. A quick change later and still soggy I meet the others just in time to visit the programme shop that looks like a horse box. From hundreds of interesting items we choose a few to read later. Minutes later I’m back at the car for a third time while the other three go into the game.

Outside the stadium

I’m not sure what to expect as it is the first time I’ve had any free tickets. They came from an ex-footballer Ross knows. It turns out they are in what looks like the more expensive seats but nothing exciting. Despite being in row 11 rain is blowing in under the stand like sea fret and keeping us cold and damp.

Northampton Town v Stevenage Borough

Only two points separated these teams last season as both were promoted to League One. Steve Evans the volcanic Stevenage manager is more famous, or some might say infamous, than any of the players on show. Both sides contain a mix of lower league journeymen, loan signings and keen youngsters. First game of the season should be interesting with both teams confident.

Northampton start the game strongly and could be a couple of goals up in the first fifteen minutes. Stevenage are very open defensively and have one of their defenders booked for kicking the ball away early on. With the new time wasting directions applied to the letter Northampton soon have a player in the book for the same offence. I’m 100% behind the idea of adding the actual time taken for stoppages and increasing injury time.

As the Northampton pressure continues Evans shows why he is a top manager at this level. He argues with the fourth official over something trivial and gets told off by the referee. Next time the ball goes out of play he’s on his feet again waving arms everywhere. Eventually a yellow card is brandished and he sits down. The incident probably takes 2 minutes, the whole time the Stevenage coach is reorganising the team and they take control of the game. From Northampton on top and looking likely to score the home team don’t have many more chances. Eight minutes of stoppage time are played in the first half which ends 0-0.

First half action

Second Half

Northampton continue to try and play the same tactics but Stevenage have control and start passing the ball better. There isn’t much to write about although it would be a surprise if the Cobblers created a chance. Stevenage take a deserved lead and their supporters are in full voice in this local derby.

Second half action

Fourteen minutes of added time gives the home support something to sign about and they throw everything at the opposition goal without creating much. By the end I’m happy to hear the final whistle with a four hour drive home to come. Final score 0-1.

Steve Evans has the last word

Summary

Entry Fee Adults free tickets (usually adult £24)

Programme £3.50

Attendance 7,049

Run fun 6/10

Parking availability 8/10

Match entertainment 3/10

2023-24 Number of games attended 9

2023-24 Number of new grounds 6

Northampton Town FC website

Run on Strava

Other Matches This Week

Hartlepool United v Sunderland

A short trip for this pre-season friendly. Hartlepool set the tone for the game by pressing Sunderland from the start. A slip by Huggins under pressure after only 4 minutes leads to a Hartlepool goal and it doesn’t get much better for Sunderland. Conceding comedy goals including a ridiculous penalty doesn’t look good for the away team’s season. Hartlepool should make a good first of promotion back to the Football league on this evidence. Final score Hartlepool 5 Sunderland 2.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town

A completely different line up for Sunderland in their first league match. In a close match a deflection near halftime gives Ipswich the lead. Not long into the second half it is 0-2. Sunderland score through Dan Neil but the lack of a centre forward is evident with a defender up front in 14 minutes of injury time. A 1-2 win for Ipswich to start the season.

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If you enjoyed reading Run and football 2023-24 Match 1 I’m sure you will like dipping into our other articles on Run and Football for the 2023-24 season

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