After hammering Scunthorpe 7-0 on the final day of the season, Bristol Rovers were promoted to League One on goal difference. Rovers needed a five-goal swing to overtake Northampton Town and move into third position after not being in the automatic promotion places all season.
That seemed implausible with Northampton leading Barrow 3-0 after 45 minutes. Rovers knew a 7-0 win would put them ahead on goals scored after Barrow pulled one back. After an hour, Joey Barton’s team was only 3-0 up, but late goals from Antony Evans, Aaron Collins, and Newcastle loanee Elliot Anderson ensured a return to the third tier.
Bristol Rovers scored seven goals in a game for the first time since 1964. Due to the celebrations of Rovers fans, the game was delayed, and Barton and owner Wael al-Qadi were compelled to address the crowd at the Memorial Ground to ask for calm. Fans throwing flares on the ground resulted in 18 minutes of injury time, with the referee threatening an abandonment if the pitch was invaded again.
Forest Green Rovers were promoted to the Premier League after a late comeback against Mansfield Town, while Exeter City finished second on goal difference after losing to Port Vale. Scunthorpe’s final game in the Football League was a 7-0 defeat, as the Lincolnshire team was relegated to the National League next season.
Watch the highlights here:
Hundreds of Rovers fans rushed onto the pitch, their blue flares exploding. While all this was going on, Hoskins came close to scoring the fourth goal for Northampton, but Paul Farman stopped him. Rovers would have required the eighth goal if they had scored again.
Town’s hopes were dashed when goalkeeper Liam Roberts was sent off for handling beyond his box, forcing outfielder Danny Rose to step in. In Cumbria, the final whistle blew, but play had not yet resumed in Bristol.
Barton and Rovers owner Wael al Qadi entered the pitch, asking the home fans to return to the stands so the game could be completed. They eventually did after a 15-minute delay, with referee Charles Breakspear threatening to call the game off if anyone else ran onto the field. Northampton would have been spared if Scunthorpe had scored, but that goal never came. After being relegated, this was the Iron’s final game in the EFL after 72 years.
“Incredible,” he enthused to supporters in a recent interview. It’s incredible to have witnessed such an event. The strategy was to go for broke. I never had any doubts about this group of players. Look at what happened when they went for it. It truly is a football miracle. In England, we were 91st in the Football League. We came back in the last seconds of the season and were promoted. “