Young Hatters fight back to draw with experienced Cobblers
Luton Town 2
Northampton Town 2
Andy Awford and Paul Driver’s development squad fought back from 2-1 down to level an entertaining game with an experienced Northampton Town side at Hitchin Town’s Top Field this afternoon.
A youthful Town XI more than matched a side featuring no fewer than seven who have been first-team regulars for the reigning League Two champions this season and last.
The Hatters took the lead in the third minute when Freddie Hinds latched onto a Mark O’Brien ball forward and squared for Zane Banton to tap in from close range.
The Town boys were knocking the ball around with confidence in midfield and Hinds soon had the ball in the net again, but the offside flag was already up, and the next attempt on goal came from the visitors in the 13th minute, but Sam Hoskins’ low shot was easy for Ciaran Gordon-Stearn to deal with.
Marc Richards met Joel Byrom’s right-wing corner, but his glancing header flashed right across the face of goal, and the Hatters were soon back on the attack, Banton creating space for himself inside the area but Cornell got a fingertip to his snap-shot.
Tyreeq Bakinson chipped a delightful ball into Hinds’ path on 23 minutes, but an initially-hesitant Cornell managed to block the forward’s shot, and he got his body right behind another effort from Banton three minutes later.
Mark O’Brien had to be alert on the half-hour to clear in front of Richards when Hoskins whipped in a low cross from the right, and the Irish centre-half got his head on three more dangerous crosses before the visitors drew level three minutes before the break.
Ex-Tottenham starlet Emmanuel Sonupe smashed home from the edge of the box when the Hatters defence could only half clear a low left-wing cross from Alfie Potter.
The Cobblers started the second half in the ascendancy and O’Brien was forced into a last-ditch clearance under pressure from Potter, but Kavan Cotter – back in midfield after his excellent first-team debut at right-back in the win over Gillingham last week – was soon testing Cornell with a low 20-yarder.
Northampton had the lead in the 53rd minute when three of their first-teamers combined to great effect, Potter feeding Lawson D’Ath down the right flank and Richards meeting his cross at the far post.
Left-back Ciaren Jones came close to levelling it up again three minutes later when cracked a low shot inches wide of the far post, but O’Brien was to leave the pitch on the hour, suffering from an injury sustained in his goalmouth clearance straight after the interval.
Cotter played a great throughball for Hinds soon after, only for the striker’s low shot to be saved comfortably by Cornell. Then Cotter sent in a deep free-kick that Bakinson met with a powerful header, although he couldn’t direct it on target.
With quarter-of-an-hour to go the elegant midfielder did get one on target, Cornell turning his powerful half-volley behind at full stretch, before Hinds tricked his way into the box but couldn’t keep his shot down.
The Hatters were doing all the pressing for an equaliser, but with just under ten minutes to go D’Ath’s cross-shot forced Gordon-Stearn to be on his toes to tip over, then Banton set up right-back Jack James for a shot that crashed into the side-netting.
The Town had a deserved equaliser on 84 minutes when Arthur Read went on a mazy run inside the box and his shot crept in off the near post via the goalkeeper.
Town: Gordon-Stearn, James, O’Brien (Mead 60), Famewo ©, Jones, Bakinson, Cotter , Atkinson (Read 64), Snelus (Murray 70), Hinds, Banton.