Keith Curle: 'Promotion a reward for everybody at Northampton Town'

Northampton Town boss Keith Curle said promotion was a “reward for everbody at the club” after watching his side dismantle Exeter City in the League Two play-off final at Wembley.

First half goals from Ryan Watson and Callum Morton were followed by two more after the break from Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams as the Cobblers secured a comfortable victory over Exeter City.

The Grecians also finished with ten men after Dean Moxey's red card early in the second half.

Victory for Town ended their two-year exile from the third tier, while earning Curle a maiden promotion of a managerial career which began in 2002.

They will join fellow promoted sides Swindon, Crewe and Plymouth in League One next season.

“Tonight is a real reward for everybody at the football club and for the fans for all their support,” Curle said.

"This is a very good football club, it has been a real team effort and I am delighted for everybody connected with the club.

"We will enjoy this result but the real hard work starts now for League 1."

The teams took to an immaculate-looking pitch 331 days after the start of the League Two season and on the day the cancelled Wimbledon tennis championships were scheduled to begin.

After British soprano Faryl Smith contributed to the surreal atmosphere by performing a pre-recorded national anthem on the big screens, the empty 90,000-seater stadium fell completely silent in memory of Theo Foley.

Irishman Foley, who died on Friday aged 83, had connections to both clubs, captaining and managing Northampton after beginning his professional career with Exeter.

Town began brighter and took an 11th-minute lead with the game's first attempt at goal.

After Charlie Goode's long throw was partially cleared to the edge of the box, Watson calmly sidestepped City skipper Jake Taylor before his low left-footed strike took a slight deflection off Aaron Martin and flew into the bottom right corner.

Semi-final hero Morton, who scored twice as the Cobblers overturned a 2-0 aggregate deficit against Cheltenham, was left with a simple, close-range volley after Scott Wharton and Jordan Turnbull helped Goode's searching free-kick across goal.

Exeter showed little sign of mounting a comeback and their task became even more difficult just before the hour mark when Moxey was shown a straight red card after foolishly sliding in on Watson from behind.

West Brom loanee Morton then wasted a chance to claim his second when he slotted wide when clean through, before Hoksins put the result beyond doubt by coolly slotting in 10 minutes from time after substitute Mark Marshall burst down the right and centred.

Exeter enjoyed more possession but mustered just one attempt on target in the entire contest and their suffering was complete a minute from time when veteran forward Williams hooked home with his first touch after another Goode long throw.

At the end of the game the Northampton players picked up the medals and champagne themselves for social-distancing reasons.