Northampton Town 1 (0)
Tottenham Hotspur XI 3 (1)
Attendance – 1,268
Aidy Boothroyd has made no secret of the fact that he is keen to bring another centre half and goalkeeper into his Northampton Town squad before the start of the new League Two season. After this game, he may well feel it is even more urgent to add them as soon as possible.
Two goals from highly-touted Ivory Coast striker Souleymane Coulibaly and one-time wunderkid John Bostock secured a youthful Tottenham Hotspur XI victory over the Cobblers at Sixfields. However, it may well be the manner in which they were conceded rather than the result that irks boss Boothroyd the most.
Put simply, the Town defence were exposed on several occasions. That is not to say that centre half duo Kelvin Langmead and Anthony Charles are not up to the job –they are good, experienced and solid defenders. But as the manager has stated before, they cannot be expected to shoulder the burden alone.
Whether or not Clarke Carlisle does eventually return remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the goalkeeper situation needs addressing as well. Dean Snedker is an obviously talented young player and seems to have a bright future ahead of him. However, Boothroyd does not expect to be starting the 17-year-old when his team travel to Rochdale for the season opener in two weeks’ time.
Elsewhere, Adebayo Akinfenwa was handed a start up front and immediately made his presence felt, surging forward after latching onto a through ball. His progress was certainly impeded when Spurs defender Grant Hall decided he couldn’t wait until the end of the match to swap shirts, although no free kick was given.
The visitors quickly countered after that move had broken down and Coulibaly broke clear, only for his shot to be blocked by a last-gasp dive from Kelvin Langmead. Tottenham then took the lead after five minutes, with Bostock getting in-between the two Cobblers centre halves to latch onto a ball over the top from Hall and coolly slot past Snedker.
Northampton wasted little time in trying to get back into the contest, although Alex Nicholls may arguably have done better after intercepting a wayward pass across the defence by Hall - his shot being comfortably saved by Jordan Archer. Then Ishmel Demontagnac went close in the 16th minute, showing good skill to cut in from the right wing before unleashing a thunderbolt of a shot from just inside the box that hit the side netting.
Akinfenwa was also proving a handful for the young Spurs defence and nine minutes later he forced a good save by Archer from close range after out-muscling William Ekong. That led to a spell of possession for Town inside the away side’s half, but they were unable to register a goal during that time.
Tottenham had been seeing plenty of the ball as well, although at times they were guilty of gifting the ball to their opponents with some slack passing. It was some fine defending from Cobblers skipper Langmead that prevents them from further extending their lead on 33 minutes though as he dived in to block an effort from Ryan Fredericks after the winger had weaved his way in from the left.
Youth team goalkeeper Snedker was once again belying his relative lack of experience and made a fine save from Bostock’s shot from 20 yards as the clock ticked over into the final ten minutes of the half. Spurs stopper Archer was also proving difficult to beat and did well to save a Chris Hackett free kick from around 25 yards out in the 43rd minute.
Spurs held their single goal lead at the interval, but Northampton went close to levelling five minutes into the second half. Bostock gave the ball away to Akinfenwa and he burst forward before slotting a neat through ball to Alex Nicholls. However, Archer was there to parry the shot over the bar.
The corner came to naught and Spurs quickly and ruthlessly countered. This time it was a wayward pass from John Johnson that led to the goal, with Colibaly intercepting and slotting low past Snedker before wheeling away and celebrating his goal with a Lomano Lua-Lua-style back flip.
The Ivorian was on target again in the 57th minute, with the goal coming this time after Akinfenwa had given the ball away in midfield. Tottenham broke down the left and the move was finished off with Coulibaly lashing the ball past the helpless Snedker into the top corner before obliging the 149 Spurs fans in attendance with some more of his acrobatics.
Northampton kept pressing forward and Hackett rifled a low shot across the face of goal in the 73rd minute, while trialist Louis Moult – on as a substitute – had a shot from an angle saved by Archer four minutes later. The Spurs ‘keeper then had to beat away a fierce strike from Hackett in the 79th minute after he had burst down the right wing, although perhaps a pass to the waiting Akinfenwa would have been the better option.
Charles then headed over from close range before Langmead grabbed a consolation on the stroke of full time with a bullet header from 12 yards out after connecting with Hackett’s pinpoint free kick into the box from the left.
Northampton Town line-up (4-3-3) – Snedker; Johnson, Langmead (captain), Charles, Widdowson; Hackett, Guttridge, Harding (Tozer 67); Nicholls, Akinfenwa, Demontagnac (Moult 67)
Subs Not Used – Platt, Wilson, Robinson, Hornby, Bryan, Mattock, Chambers, Heath
Referee – Mr. Iain Rathbone (Northamptonshire)