Northampton Town Under 18s bounced back from consecutive defeats with a 3-2 win at home to AFC Wimbledon in the EFL Youth Alliance League South East on Saturday.
Coach Jon Brady made three changes to the team that started the 1-0 defeat at home to Cambridge United last week, with Max Dyche, Dylan Hill and Jack Connor being replaced by Peter Abimbola, Courtney Lashley and Kieran Watkins-Robinson.
The Cobblers youngsters made a fast start and were awarded a penalty with less than two minutes played as Miguel Ngwa rounded the keeper and was fouled. Liam Cross stepped up and smashed his spot kick straight down the middle to give his side an early lead.
It was two a minute later. Cross forced the keeper into a save from the edge of the area, Ngwa blocked the defender’s clearance and the ball rolled into the bottom corner.
Captain Richie Bailey headed a Cross free kick straight at the keeper from the penalty spot as the hosts looked to increase their advantage six minutes in.
Midway through the half, a throw in on the left found its way to Cross. He passed to Ngwa who cut inside and fired just over as he aimed for the far corner.
After half-an-hour of Cobblers domination, AFC Wimbledon pulled a goal back when Bailey lost out in a challenge on the left and the subsequent cutback was tucked away.
Moments after their goal, the Dons tested Dylan Berry who got down to his right to palm away a shot from the edge of the box.
Berry denied the visitors again less than a minute later, making a fantastic diving save from close range.
On the stroke of half time, Bailey scored a vital goal. Just as it looked like the Dons would go into the break with momentum behind them, Cross’ deep corner was nodded into the top corner by the captain and the Cobblers’ two-goal advantage was restored.
AFC Wimbledon started on top in the second half. They fired over from the edge of the box on the hour mark, before curling over from 12 yards five minutes later.
They continued to threaten, and Berry was forced to tip a curling effort from 25 yards over with 20 minutes remaining.
Less than a minute later, the visitors’ seemingly inevitable second goal came. Berry again did well to save a close range header, but the rebound found the back of the net.
Berry made a quickfire double save with five minutes to go to keep his side in front. He parried a curled effort to his left before recovering quickly to deny the rebound.
Tom Scott made two crucial blocks on the line in quick succession, before the Dons curled a free kick from the edge of the box across goal as the referee blew the full time whistle.
The youth team made a quick start and managed to hold onto their lead despite heavy AFC Wimbledon pressure late on. They host MK Dons next week.
Starting XI: Berry (GK); Bailey (C), Tomlinson, Abimbola, Lashley; Lack, Scott, Cross; Watkins-Robinson (sub Connor, 73’), Gilbert, Ngwa. Unused subs: Woods (GK), Hill.
Goals: Cross (3’ pen, 1-0), Ngwa (4’, 2-0), Bailey (45’, 3-1).
Assist: Cross (45’, 3-1).
Bookings: Bailey, Connor, Scott (all time-wasting).