Northampton Town Under 18s lost 3-1 away to the Newport Pagnell Town first team in a friendly on Tuesday evening.
Josh Tomlinson scored the young Cobblers’ goal as their uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South opponents prepared for their upcoming Isuzu FA Vase final, having finished in third place this season and won the competition last year.
The more physical and experienced UCL side were on top in the opening stages, Marcus Bald doing well to tip Albie Hall’s curled effort over after the striker worked some space in the area.
The young Northampton squad grew into the contest, and Harry Guess had two chances midway through the first half.
The midfielder ran onto Reuben Wyatt’s defence-splitting through ball, bore down on goal and fired over before reaching James Owen’s flick-on, cutting inside and shooting low into the side-netting.
The Cobblers opened the scoring in a competitive game 10 minutes before the break when Josh Tomlinson nodded Owen’s driven corner into the ground at the far post, and the ball nestled in the back of the net.
Newport Pagnell responded through Jake Watkinson, who met a deep cross and hit the top of the crossbar before Alfie Powell powered home a header from Ben Shepherd’s corner to equalise for his side going into the interval.
There was still time for one more Northampton opportunity before half-time, Jamari Hart cutting in from the right wing and curling just wide of the far post having set his sight on the top corner.
Both teams came close to taking the lead within a minute of the restart, Bald beating away Hall’s penalty-spot header and Hart side-footing across goal from Neo Dobson’s pass straight up the other end.
The hosts completed the turnaround on the hour mark when Joey Evans ran onto a through ball and gave Bald no chance one-on-one, placing an early shot into the bottom corner.
The Cobblers ‘keeper made a low near-post save to prevent Aaron Pike from doubling the advantage soon after, and his side had an opportunity to level the scoring in the same passage of play.
Substitute Oliver Evans pressed a defender and forced him into making a mistake, before Dobson raced onto the loose ball and sent a right-footed effort across the face of goal.
Dobson was in again with five minutes of normal time remaining, latching onto Wyatt’s pass but missing the target one-on-one.
The Cobblers were punished for their missed chances when Newport Pagnell put the game to bed late on, a first-time strike from the edge of the box swerving into the top corner.
Despite the defeat, it was a good run-out for the youth team who will have learned a lot from playing against a successful local senior side.
Cobblers: Marcus Bald (sub Tom Ladyman 82), Will Ronald, Leo Jenkins, Josh Tomlinson, Matty Ireland (sub Oliver Evans 57), Reuben Wyatt, Jacob Scott, Harry Guess (sub Josh Rayfield 66), James Owen (sub Archie Murray 70), Neo Dobson, Jamari Hart (sub Charlie Carroll 53)