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League Two

First promotion within touching distance for Keith Curle

29 June 2020

Northampton Town boss Keith Curle is determined to leave no stone un-turned ahead of Monday’s crucial Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final against Exeter City at Wembley.

It’s been 18 years since Curle took his first job in management. Since then he’s managed more than 500 games in the dugout, enjoying plenty of highs and experiencing plenty of lows with six different clubs. However, there is one thing missing from his CV, promotion. 

On Monday night he hopes to finally end his long wait for a promotion with victory over Exeter City and with that, end Northampton’s two-year absence from the third tier. 

The Cobblers progressed to the Final in one of the most dramatic comebacks the Play-Offs have seen in recent years, overturning a 2-0 defeat to Cheltenham Town suffered in the first leg.

Having faced each other twice already this season, now they need to get past Exeter City, a side that are no strangers to the Play-Offs, having made the Final three times in the last four seasons. 

“We are very respectful in our attention to detail when it comes to the opposition,” he says.

“And we have got a way of preparing, whereby we try and un-turn as many stones that we can.

“We spend a significant amount of time doing that, but we make sure that we don’t alienate our own fundamental aspects of the game, and how we can cause them problems, it is about getting that balance right.

“Exeter have some very good players, every team that reaches the Play-Off Final or reaches the top end at the tail end of the season will have strengths, but everyone has weaknesses too, even ourselves, we just have to make sure we nullify the opposition on the day.”

This will be the first time since 2013 that Northampton have been present in the League Two Play-Off Final, last losing out to Bradford City by three-goals-to-nil.

The 56 year old has suffered Play-Off agony in the past with both Mansfield Town and Carlisle United, but he’ll be hoping it’ll be third time lucky when the Cobblers step out onto Wembley’s hallowed turf on Monday night. 

“This game is a great opportunity for us to showcase what we are trying to build at the football club,” he continues. 

"I think everybody who witnessed the Semi-Final would have seen how far we have come as a team.

“We have to go into the Final with that same level of performance, individually and collectively, the mind-set has to be the same, it is a great opportunity to go out there and represent the football club by making a lot of people proud.

“I have had a promotion as a player and I have had one as a coach from the Championship to the Premier League with Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers. I decided to go off and create my own path in management, because I want to manage a team in the Premier League one day and a stepping stone is achieving promotion.”

Monday night’s Play-Off Final kicks off at 7.30pm and can be watched live on Sky Sports. The action can also be followed on Twitter via @SkyBetLeagueTwo. 

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