The Northampton Town Football and Education Programme Elite squad lost 3-0 at home to Reading in the NFYL South Premier on Wednesday afternoon.
The Cobblers were unable to end their opponents’ unbeaten start to the season.
Reading started brightly as Billy Panter made a one-on-one save, Jack Culwick blocked the rebound and a flicked header from a free-kick went just over.
But the hosts came close to opening the scoring against the run of play when Archie O’Donnell was left unmarked at the far post and the goalkeeper was quick off his line to deny him at his feet.
Reading did take the lead in controversial circumstances on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, an attacker diverting a driven cross home with his outstretched arm. The referee decided to award the goal after a brief discussion with his assistant.
The advantage was almost doubled before the half-hour, but an attacker cut inside and crashed a shot off the bar before Panter made an instinctive reaction save to keep out the powerful follow-up.
Northampton could have equalised straight at the other end, but Elliot Balchin was denied by the onrushing ‘keeper having been played through on goal.
Reading created a similar chance 10 minutes before the break, and this time the attacker slotted into the bottom corner to add his side’s second.
Balchin was in again on the stroke of half-time, but the ‘keeper turned his side-footed effort from Bradley Cheshire’s through ball behind.
Tom Ladyman replaced Panter in the Cobblers goal at the interval, and he made two saves early in the second period to keep his team in the contest. First, he beat away a shot from the edge of the area before making a low one-on-one save moments later.
There was not a lot in it for the remaining 40 minutes, Northampton rarely threatening as Reading settled for their two-goal lead.
Their best opportunity fell midway through the half, the ‘keeper making a close-range save and O’Donnell firing over from the penalty spot in the aftermath.
Any faint hopes of a Cobblers comeback were ended with three minutes of normal time to go when a mishit shot set up another Reading attacker, whose scuffed effort went in off the post for a third.
Elsewhere, the Women’s squad’s unbeaten opening to their South Premier Women campaign was put to a stop as they lost 3-2 away to Bromley. Alex Dicks scored both of the Cobblers’ goals.
Cobblers: Billy Panter, Aiden Bell, Tyrun Primus, James Lewis, Zack Douglas, Jack Culwick, Elliot Balchin, Romeo Ingman, Bradley Cheshire, James Owen, Archie O’Donnell
Substitutes: Tom Ladyman, Mmenim Ekop, Alfie Leivars, Ollie Galbraith, Jonny Harris