Northampton Town Under 18s won 2-1 away to Luton Town in the EFL Youth Alliance South East on Saturday morning.
Neo Dobson and Jamari Hart scored the young Cobblers’ goals as they defeated the side that finished top of both the regular season and Merit League One tables last season.
Coach Shane Goddard made one change to the side that progressed to the League Cup southern section second round with a victory away to Forest Green Rovers last week, as goalkeeper Marcus Bald returned from injury to replace Leicester City loanee Stevie Bausor in the starting line up.
The Cobblers edged an action-packed first half, Dobson firing a right-footed shot across goal having raced onto James Owen’s through ball early on.
The pair linked-up again soon after, the latter seeing his effort cleared off the line from the former’s cutback.
The visitors made a deserved breakthrough in the ninth minute when Bald played a long ball forward which his opposite number Rileigh Hebditch attempted to let roll into his area, but Dobson dispossessed him and passed into the empty net.
The lead only lasted for a few minutes as Luton equalised on the quarter-of-an-hour mark. Bald made a diving save to deny a strike from near the penalty spot, but the ball ricocheted off Kiantay Licorish-Mullings and the ‘keeper picked it up and the Hatters were awarded an indirect free-kick from six yards as a result. Harry Guess put his body on the line to block a drive from the lay-off, but the hosts regained possession out wide and a low cross was smashed home at the near post.
The Cobblers were back in the ascendency after conceding, Dobson almost reaching Hart’s poke towards the far post, the officials adjudging that the ball did not cross the line during a goalmouth scramble and captain Jacob Scott having a header disallowed for offside.
The momentum shifted on the stroke of half-time when Licorish-Mullings challenged for and won a loose ball, but the referee deemed the tackle worthy of a straight red card.
Luton began creating chances at the start of the second half, Bald managing to divert their best opportunity in this period onto the post before claiming the ball at the second attempt.
However, the Cobblers restored their advantage against the run of play when their opponents failed to clear a wide free-kick and Hart turned the loose ball home from close range.
Their task of holding onto the narrow lead was made slightly easier going into the final quarter-of-an-hour as Luton were also reduced to 10 men following an off-the-ball incident.
The final chance of an absorbing contest fell to the visitors late on when Reuben Wyatt’s driven free-kick from the edge of the box was tipped wide by Hebditch as it travelled towards the bottom corner.
The referee’s whistle at the end of 11 minutes of added time, during which another Hatters player was sent-off for a second bookable offence, meant that the Cobblers were able to celebrate a third consecutive win in all competitions.
The youth team host Bristol Rovers in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup southern section second round in a fortnight. Leo Jenkins and Dobson scored the Cobblers’ goals in a 2-1 win when the sides met in Merit League Two last season.
Cobblers: Marcus Bald, Josh Rayfield, Leo Jenkins, Kiantay Licorish-Mullings, Matty Ireland, Reuben Wyatt, Harry Guess, Jacob Scott, James Owen, Neo Dobson, Jamari Hart
Substitutes: Elliot Smith, Will Ronald, Freddie Findlay, Charlie Carroll, Aleks Jevterevs