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EFL Youth Alliance Merit Division action

15 April 2023

Northampton Town Under 18s won 2-1 against Cheltenham Town in the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League Two on Saturday morning.

Tom Cartwright and Neo Dobson (pictured) scored the young Cobblers’ goals as they maintained their unbeaten record in the second stage of the season, inflicting a first defeat on their opponents in the process.

Northampton were on top in the first half without creating too many clear-cut opportunities, controlling possession and mainly causing problems from set-pieces.

Jamari Hart took the game’s first shot, receiving the ball from Reuben Wyatt and seeing a long-range strike held by Jude Franks.

The winger was dispossessed as he took on the last man and captain Jacob Scott had an effort from a promising position blocked harmlessly wide as the Cobblers were only able to threaten with half-chances before the half-an-hour mark.

They came closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Harry Guess smashed the crossbar from the edge of the area.

Cheltenham’s only real period of pressure in the opening 45 minutes came in the dying moments, when they won a number of free-kicks in quick succession.

Cameron Walters’ curled set-piece from a central position 25 yards from goal was their only shot in the first half, and it was comfortably claimed by Marcus Bald.

The first effort of the second period was aimed at Cheltenham’s goal, Dobson flicking Hart’s cross onto the roof of the net at the near post.

They responded before the hour when David Romer ran into space at the far post and swept wide from Tino Shumba’s low cross, their side’s first clear chance.

Guess had come closest in the first half, and he had two opportunities to break the deadlock going into the final quarter-of-an-hour.

His left-footed effort from the edge of the box floated narrowly wide of the far post moments before he was denied one-on-one by substitute ‘keeper Archie Burford having been played through by James Owen.

Northampton were beginning to dominate, and Burford had to scramble across his line to tip Scott’s header from Kiantay Licorish-Mullings’ long-throw wide.

The pair combined as the Cobblers took the lead a few minutes later, Scott again flicking-on a Licorish-Mullings throw with Cartwright on hand to turn home from close range.

However, Cheltenham equalised against the run of play less than five minutes later when captain Alfie Taylor crashed a shot in off the underside of the bar from sub Lenny Johnson’s cutback.

The drama continued as Northampton restored their advantage within a minute, Dobson finding the bottom corner from Wyatt’s low ball across goal.

The third goal proved to be the winner, securing another deserved three points for the youth team.

Shane Goddard’s side travel to Southend United for the penultimate fixture of their Merit League campaign in a fortnight.

Cobblers: Marcus Bald, Will Ronald (sub Matty Ireland 70), Leo Jenkins, Tom Cartwright, Kiantay Licorish-Mullings, Jamari Hart (sub Archie Murray 70), Harry Guess (sub Josh Rayfield 90), Reuben Wyatt, Jacob Scott, James Owen (sub Charlie Carroll 79), Neo Dobson
Sub not used: Tom Ladyman

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