NORTHAMPTON TOWN 2 STOKE CITY U21 1
JJ Hooper was on target once again as the Cobblers saw off Stoke City’s U21 side at Sixfields this afternoon.
Hitman Hooper opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark before that lead was extended shortly after half time when Ben Heneghan put through his own net.
Tom Smith pulled one back for the Potters in the dying minutes.
It was Hooper’s fifth goal of the pre-season campaign so far and, having signed a one-year deal this week, he will certainly be giving boss Aidy Boothroyd food for thought ahead of next Saturday’s League Two curtain-raiser at York.
There was another chance for trialist Kevin Amankwaah to impress at right-back, while also in the starting line-up was Corby Town striker Josh Moreman - who shone for the Steelmen against Northampton in Wednesday night’s Maunsell Cup Final.
The visitors’ team did feature one notable inclusion - first teamer Jermaine Pennant - who is having to spend time with the U21 side having been refused a work permit and entry into the United States to join Stoke on their pre-season tour.
Cobblers opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Hooper bundled the ball home from close range after the Stoke defence had failed to properly clear a long Ben Tozer throw in and Ian Morris’ initial effort had been parried.
Alex Grant headed a Pennant corner narrowly wide shortly afterwards while another Pennant delivery - this time a whipped free-kick - found the head of Karim Rossi and needed Matt Duke to tip over the bar.
That was the second time Duke had thwarted a Rossi effort in as many minutes, having previously produced a smart stop to keep out the striker’s shot.
Hooper then came close to adding a second goal but his half-volley was smartly turned around for a corner by keeper Dan Bauchmann.
Three minutes after the break, Bauchmann had to be at his best once again to turn Roy O’Donovan’s shot around for a corner.
But, from that corner, Stoke substitute Heneghan - only on as a sub at half time - made an instant impression on the game by turning Darren Carter’s corner into his own net for 2-0.
Another Cobblers trialist, Danny Emerton - on as a second half sub - attempted a spectacular bicycle kick from Hooper’s cross on 70 minutes but the effort was high, before he then scuffed a chance wide from close range shortly after.
At the other end, Duke was called into action to turn over George Waring’s header before Duke was eventually beaten four minutes from time, with sub Smith pulling one back for the visitors.