Northampton Town won their final match of the League 2 season at Barrow 3-1 but lost out on automatic promotion after Bristol Rovers thrashed Scunthorpe.

Victory over Barrow would’ve given Northampton the advantage in a tight fight to get the third automatic promotion spot alongside Forest Green Rovers and Exeter City, and the Cobblers did their part when they moved 3-0 up inside 22 minutes.

Two goals from Sam Hoskins and a strike by Fraser Horsfall gave the visitors the advantage, although Barrow would grab a goal back late in the first half through Josh Kay.

At half-time, things were in Northampton’s favour, as Bristol Rovers needed to better Northampton’s result by five to go up by goals scored, meaning that Rovers would need to score seven.

But in an extraordinary second half, it would go in Bristol Rovers’ favour. The side from the South West demolished Scunthorpe 7-0 with five second half goals, and despite a long delay due to a pitch invasion that lead to players being escorted from the pitch, Rovers would eventually be confirmed as victors by that margin.

That meant Northampton finished 3rd on goals scored. The two teams finished level on points and on goal difference, but Rovers scored nine more goals in their 46 fixtures.

Northampton will now have to play Mansfield Town in the play-offs, and will have to face the first leg without first choice goalkeeper Liam Roberts, who was sent off in injury time for handling outside the area.

The Cobblers had arrived in the North West knowing a victory was all they could do to keep things in their own hands, with five teams in the hunt for automatic promotion on the final day of the season.

Things had started well for Jon Brady’s outfit, as Hoskins curled in a strike from range within the opening five minutes.

It would then 2-0 less than ten minutes later, as Horsfall met Mitch Pinnock’s corner and headed the ball into the back of the net.

Hoskins then grabbed his second and Northampton’s third after 22 minutes, with the Northampton man receiving Josh Eppiah’s pass and finding the bottom corner.

Barrow would find a goal back in the final minutes of the first half, as a corner picked out Kay, who fired past Roberts.

As the second half progressed, news began to filter through that Rovers were beginning to score more goals against Scunthorpe, with the Pirates scoring 5 goals in 32 minutes.

Barrow spent some time as the more forward of the two sides, with Phil Brown’s side creating their best chance when Josh Gordon hit the crossbar.

When news filtered through that Bristol Rovers had made it seven, a more frantic Cobblers side came close, as sub Danny Rose headed wide before Paul Farman made a flying stop to keep out Hoskins when he would’ve scored a hat-trick.

Roberts was then sent off, with Rose having to see out the game in goal and Northampton duly unable to grab a fourth goal from there.

The lengthy delay at the Memorial Stadium meant Northampton’s fans, players and staff had a long and nervous wait to see if Scunthorpe would grab a goal that would deny Bristol Rovers and send their team up instead.

But it wouldn’t come, allowing Bristol Rovers to take the spoils of third place and a spot in League One, having been relegated alongside Northampton this time last year.

As for the Cobblers, they now face the play-offs. Two legs against Mansfield Town will follow, after the Stags finished 7th following a final day draw with champions Forest Green Rovers. The first leg takes place next Saturday in Nottinghamshire, with a return leg at Sixfields on Wednesday May 18th.