Some signs of promise but Cobblers still need to strengthen

Saturday afternoon saw the new-look Cobblers play their first game at Sixfields against Chelsea Under 21’s, a match that was quick on the heels of last Wednesday’s 4-0 win at Cogenhoe.

It was a pretty good display from the Cobblers and the new recruits impressed despite a 2-1 defeat. The Cobblers team included trialist goalkeeper Connor Roberts who was released by Everton at the end of last season. A crowd of 1,527 turned up at Sixfields which was not bad for a game against a young set of future stars which included last season’s loanee goalkeeper Sam Walker.

Chelsea began the game well with good control of the ball and pushing hard at the Cobblers, but as the game entered the 17th minute the home side had the first opening of the game.  Ishmel Demontagnac’s volley was deflected following a good knock-down from fellow new boy Clive Platt. A few minutes later Chelsea had their first chance as Adam Phillip coasted past a couple of Cobblers defenders and saw his shot go narrowly over the bar. On 24 minutes a cross from Chris Hackett was headed goal-wards by Clive Platt but was straight at Walker in the Chelsea goal. Following this Chelsea went straight up the other end as Lewis Baker hit a shot from 20 yards that sailed just wide of the goal. There were not many more chances during the first half and it goal-less at half-time.

The second half started and it was end to end stuff as both goalkeepers were made to work hard to keep a clean sheet. The fell to the Cobblers when Chris Hackett floated in a free kick that was met by John Johnson whose header just went wide of Walker’s post. Next it was Hackett himself who had a chance following a great through ball from Ben Tozer but unfortunately for Hackett,  Walker’s fingertips got to the ball to tip the shot past the post.

On 63 minutes the deadlock was broken when Connor Roberts saved a shot from Chelsea but unfortunately the save fell straight at the feet of substitute Alex Kiwomya who tapped in to make it 1-0. On 75 minutes the Cobblers had a chance to equalise after a Ben Harding knock down was met by Ben Tozer who saw his shot end up going wide. On 78 minutes it was game over a curled effort from Chelsea’s Rueben Loftus-Cheek was again parried away by Connor Roberts, the ball fell to Cobblers left back Joe Widdowson but unfortunately for him his attempted clearance hit Kiwomya and found its way into the back of the net. The final 10 minutes was frantic stuff from the Cobblers with them coming close through Alex Nicholls, Adebayo Akinfenwa and Anthony Charles who forced a fine saves from Walker.

All in all it was a good run out for the Cobblers and Chris Hackett was deservedly chosen as man of the match by the match sponsors which topped of an impressive first appearance at Sixfields for the former Millwall man.

Clive Platt played well, winning near enough every header and holding up play impressively.Ishmel Demontagnac did ok but I was not overly impressed by him. He made a couple of good runs during the first half but by the second half we did not really see much but I am sure there is more to come from him. Joe Widdowson had a solid game at left back, he looked pacy and made some timely challenges and was unfortunate with the way his attempted clearance deflected of the Chelsea front man for their second goal. Alex Nicholls looked bright and added a bit of pace to the front line and seemed to link up well with Platt.

In my opinion we still lack a solid centre-back with pace. On numerous occasions this pre-season we have been caught out when teams have floated the ball over our back four and unfortunately I think the current pairing of Langmead and Charles will be exposed to0 often once the meaningful action begins next month. We also need to try and stop getting players just running after the ball like headless chickens. Against Chelsea there was a free man out wide who was not found and if passing was thought about we could have been carved open a few more times than we actually were!

One man who was missing from the team sheet on Saturday was trialist Michael Hoganson who the previous week was offered a one year deal at Sixfields and told Aidy Boothroyd that he would like to miss the game to think the offer over. But following the game it turned out that he played for Derby County in their friendly against Burton Albion which has not pleased ADB and added spice to last night’s friendly against the Rams.

Up The Cobblers!!

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