Northampton Town Under 18s won 3-0 away to Forest Green Rovers in the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League Two on Saturday morning.
Kai O’Keeffe, Jamari Hart and Reuben Wyatt (latter pictured above) scored the young Cobblers’ goals as they extended their unbeaten start to the second stage of the season to six games.
Wyatt attempted to replicate his halfway-line lob against Leyton Orient a fortnight ago straight from kick-off, but Forest Green ‘keeper Alfie Burnett back-pedalled and pushed the ball away from goal.
Jacob Scott won the ball and rode Dikshant Raut’s challenge before firing over and Hart’s curled effort was held by Burnett as the visitors controlled the first half of the opening period.
They came inches from taking the lead at the midpoint of the half when Leo Jenkins drove into space and flashed a long-range strike narrowly wide.
The hosts improved and began creating chances of their own, Olly Sully cutting inside and clipping the outside of the post with a fierce shot from the edge of the box before Jenkins made a goal-saving interception as Sergii Ismail looked to reach a low ball across goal just behind him.
Northampton broke the deadlock against the run of play five minutes before the break when Matty Ireland dribbled down the left wing and found O’Keeffe, who took a touch and curled into the top corner from a few yards outside the area.
The Cobblers went into the interval with 10 men as the goal-scorer was sent-off following an off-the-ball incident on the stroke of half-time.
Despite the setback, the visitors doubled their advantage early in the second period when Hart ran onto Harrison Clarke’s loose defensive header and hooked the ball over the onrushing Burnett.
Scott’s rasping drive was pushed past the post by the ‘keeper after the hour. Kiantay Licorish-Mullings played the resulting corner back to Wyatt, who drove down the byline and fired a low shot home to add his side’s third.
There was still defending for the 10 men to do, as Marcus Bald was forced into a strong save at the near post and Jenkins was in the right place at the right time to head the close-range rebound off the line.
Substitute Neo Dobson was denied by Burnett one-on-one as Northampton searched for a fourth goal in added time, having stood strong to keep a well-earned clean sheet.
The youth team host Cheltenham Town in two weeks. Their opponents drew all of their first five Merit League matches.
Cobblers: Marcus Bald (sub Tom Ladyman 78), Tom Cartwright, Leo Jenkins (sub Josh Rayfield 78), Josh Tomlinson (sub Will Ronald 64), Kiantay Licorish-Mullings, Matty Ireland, Jacob Scott, Reuben Wyatt (sub Archie Murray 83), Peter Abimbola, Kai O’Keeffe, Jamari Hart (sub Neo Dobson 68)