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A report on Saturday's EFL Youth Alliance Merit Division action

29 April 2023

Northampton Town Under 18s have won the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League Two!

James Owen and Neo Dobson both scored braces, whilst Jacob Scott netted the young Cobblers’ other goal as they won 5-0 away to Southend United on Saturday morning, securing the title with a game to spare.

The visitors controlled a game full of chances, threatening twice early on as Scott and Leo Jenkins both had headers from consecutive Owen corners saved by Harvey Gluckstead.

Jamari Hart played in a number of dangerous crosses in the first 45 minutes, and Dobson should have opened the scoring from one when he fired straight at the ‘keeper on the quarter-of-an-hour mark.

The striker made amends midway through the half when he arrived at the far post to tap in Reuben Wyatt’s low cross.

He played a key role as Northampton doubled their lead five minutes later, flicking Matty Ireland’s cross on to Owen who converted at the back stick.

Scott extended the advantage on the half-hour, controlling Marcus Bald’s kick with his chest and curling home after a fine solo run.

The Cobblers continued to create opportunities before the break, coming closest in this period when captain Josh Tomlinson flicked Owen’s corner narrowly wide of the far post.

They managed to add a fourth goal in the final minute of the first half. Harry Guess played a one-two with Scott, his shot was pushed wide by Gluckstead and Owen was on hand to double his tally from a tight angle.

Southend pushed forward in search of a response early in the second half, but Bald preserved his clean sheet with an excellent double save. Piers Hatcliff ran onto a through ball and attempted to round the ‘keeper, who recovered to deny the attacker and block the follow-up.

The hosts’ fight-back was short-lived, as their opponents made it five before the hour. Substitute Mesach Olabyi was adjudged to have handled the ball as Hart tried to dribble past him in the area, and Dobson’s penalty rolled across the line having hit the inside of the post.

The striker came close to completing his hat-trick twice, but Gluckstead beat his fierce strike across goal away and he was unable to reach sub Charlie Carroll’s low ball in the middle.

Dobson’s replacement, Aleks Jevterevs, also linked-up with Carroll, but he flicked the winger’s cross over at the near post going into the final 15 minutes.

Carroll was involved again as Gluckstead tipped his low shot from the edge onto the post soon after.

Despite creating numerous opportunities, the youth team were unable to find a sixth goal late on.

They complete their season at home to Milton Keynes Dons next week. If they avoid defeat, they will end their Merit League campaign unbeaten.

Cobblers: Marcus Bald (sub Tom Ladyman 61), Tom Cartwright, Leo Jenkins (sub Will Ronald 68), Josh Tomlinson, Matty Ireland (sub Josh Rayfield 61), James Owen, Reuben Wyatt, Harry Guess (sub Charlie Carroll 61), Jacob Scott, Jamari Hart, Neo Dobson (sub Aleks Jevterevs 75)
Subs not used: Tom Ladyman, Will Ronald, Josh Rayfield, Charlie Carroll, Aleks Jevterevs

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