Northampton Town Under 18s lost 2-1 at home to Stevenage in the EFL Youth Alliance League South East on Saturday morning.
Jamari Hart scored the Cobblers’ goal as coach Shane Goddard named a young squad that included eight Under 16s and three Football and Education Programme students.
Stevenage created the majority of the first half chances, Marcus Bald making two strong saves and his defenders blocking a number of efforts.
Their best opportunity came before the half-an-hour mark when a set-piece routine led to a header that struck the crossbar.
Northampton mainly threatened on the counter-attack, piecing together some good passages of play in the opening period.
Harry Guess crashed the bar from long range at the end of a free-flowing move, before the hosts opened the scoring with an excellent goal.
Reuben Wyatt played a great ball forward, Hart took a fantastic touch and fired low past Stevenage ‘keeper Rylee Mitchell as the Cobblers took the lead going into the interval.
The visitors continued to create in the second half and equalised 10 minutes in when captain Owen Cochrane’s cross looped in at the far post.
Northampton survived a bizarre moment on the hour as Matty Ireland attempted a backpass which wrong-footed Bald. The ‘keeper had to let the ball run, it hit the post, and he just about managed to clear before the onrushing attacker smashed in from close range.
The Cobblers were still threatening on the break and created two chances to restore their advantage.
Kiantay Licorish-Mullings was unable to make any contact with Hart’s dangerous ball across goal, before substitute James Owen’s touch let him down as he looked to get a shot away from Wyatt’s cross.
Stevenage made their opponents pay for these missed opportunities when sub Makise Evans turned home a low cross with three minutes of normal time remaining.
The youth team travel to bottom-of-the-table Leyton Orient next week. The two sides played out a goalless draw in the Cobblers’ opening fixture of the league season.
Cobblers: Marcus Bald, Will Ronald, Leo Jenkins, Kiantay Licorish-Mullings, Matty Ireland (sub Charlie Carroll 85), Josh Rayfield (sub Jack Culwick 89), Jacob Scott, Reuben Wyatt, Harry Guess (sub James Owen 73), Neo Dobson (sub Tommy Curry 76), Jamari Hart
Sub not used: Tom Ladyman