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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 6 May 2021
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Ireland U21 international stars as League Two play-offs get underway

Jake Doyle-Hayes, who’s on loan from Aston Villa, helped to put Cheltenham Town in the driving seat.

Jake Doyle-Hayes in possession for Cheltenham Town during this evening's play-off.
Jake Doyle-Hayes in possession for Cheltenham Town during this evening's play-off.
Image: Mike Egerton

AIDED BY THE contributions of a couple of Irish players, Cheltenham Town came away from this evening’s first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final with a two-goal lead.

With Dubliner Sean Long at right-back and 21-year-old Cavan native Jake Doyle-Hayes in midfield, Cheltenham recorded a 2-0 win away to Northampton Town.

Doyle-Hayes, who has spent the season on loan from Aston Villa, looked particularly impressive as he helped his side to open up a significant cushion to bring into the second leg.

With an excellent delivery from a corner, the Ireland U21 international provided the assist that allowed Charlie Raglan to open the scoring on 26 minutes.

Doyle-Hayes, who has made three first-team appearances for Aston Villa in the League Cup, is due to see his current contract at Villa Park expire this summer.

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Northampton – for whom Ryan Watson had a 17th-minute penalty saved by Owen Evans – fell further behind to a Conor Thomas goal with three minutes of normal time remaining.

It was a disappointing night for 36-year-old Dubliner Alan McCormack and former Ireland U21 international Michael Harriman, who both started for Northampton.

Earlier on, former Bray Wanderers defender Pierce Sweeney was part of a defeated Exeter City side in the first leg of their play-off semi-final at Colchester United, who ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a Cohen Bramall goal in the 81st minute.

The line-up for the League Two play-off decider – scheduled for Wembley on 29 June – will be finalised with the semi-final second legs on Monday.

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Paul Dollery

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