Northampton Town Under 18s were knocked out of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup at the southern section third round stage by a 2-1 loss away to Portsmouth on Saturday morning.
Jamari Hart scored the young Cobblers’ goal as they were defeated by their EFL Youth Alliance South West opponents.
Coach Shane Goddard made two changes to the side that defeated Leyton Orient in the league last week, as Marcus Bald and Hart replaced James Dadge and Charlie Carroll in the starting line up.
The first half was scrappy with the Cobblers creating numerous opportunities in the opening stages.
Reuben Wyatt’s first-time, halfway-line effort from ‘keeper Bastian Smith’s loose clearance bounced narrowly over the crossbar on the quarter-of-an-hour mark.
The visitors opened the scoring within a minute, Hart’s light touch helping James Owen’s poked through-ball on its way into the bottom corner.
Neo Dobson shifted the ball out wide to the goalscorer who smashed over from a tight angle before Dobson spun the last defender in the centre circle and fired straight at Smith one-on-one as the Cobblers continued to threaten midway through the first period.
They were punished for their misses when their opponents equalised on the counter-attack a few minutes later, Dan Murray converting Koby Mottoh’s cutback after Mottoh was slipped in by Eli Grant.
Both sides struggled to maintain quality in the remaining 20 minutes of the first half, Portsmouth edging the contest without fashioning any chances of note.
The Cobblers regained some momentum in the second period. Hart pressed Smith into a mis-hit clearance early on, and Harry Guess curled the loose ball across the face of goal as the ‘keeper sprinted back towards his line.
James Owen drove across the box and found Josh Rayfield 10 minutes later, and he checked back onto his left foot before having a shot held by the diving Smith.
Portsmouth had a period of sustained pressure going into the final quarter-of-an-hour, substitute Harry Clout hitting the inside of the post with a strike across goal from the edge of the area moments before Mottoh cut inside and saw his 25-yard drive tipped over by Marcus Bald.
They took advantage from the resulting corner as Zac Whitelock tapped in on the line after the initial ball in deflected into his path.
The Cobblers threw everything at their opponents late on, with Wyatt’s deflected free-kick diverting clear off the post and Dobson having a low penalty pushed away by Smith.
Their final chance fell in the final minute of normal time, Kiantay Licorish-Mullings powering a header less than a yard over from Wyatt’s whipped corner.
The youth team return to EFL Youth Alliance South East action away to Sutton United next week.
Cobblers: Marcus Bald, Josh Rayfield, Leo Jenkins, Kiantay Licorish-Mullings, Matty Ireland, Harry Guess, Reuben Wyatt, James Owen, Jacob Scott, Jamari Hart, Neo Dobson
Substitutes: Elliot Smith, Jozef Baxter, Archie Murray, Charlie Carroll, Aleks Jevterevs