Iaciofano bags a hat-trick as new-look Cobblers thrash Sileby to kick-off pre-season in style

NEW DAWN: Summer signing Leon Barnett strokes home Northampton's opening goal in Saturday's friendly at Fernie Fields. Pictures by Sharon Lucey
NEW DAWN: Summer signing Leon Barnett strokes home Northampton's opening goal in Saturday's friendly at Fernie Fields. Pictures by Sharon Lucey
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A new-look Cobblers outfit got their pre-season campaign up and running on Saturday afternoon with a 8-2 demolition of Northampton Sileby Rangers as Fernie Fields provided the scene for their first run-out of 2017/18.

Back after several weeks away and with an array of new faces on show, Town could easily have doubled their final tally having spurned a bucketload of opportunities but even so, they had far too much quality and firepower in brushing aside their UCL Premier Division opponents in a predictably one-sided affair.

Billy Waters impressed in his first outing for the Cobblers

Billy Waters impressed in his first outing for the Cobblers

Summer signing Leon Barnett opened the scoring midway through the first-half and Marc Richards made it two before a flurry of second-half goals put the hosts to the sword, including a hat-trick for young striker Joe Iaciofano, as well as brace for new boy Sam Foley.

Of course, little can be read into a pre-season game against a team six levels below them in the football pyramid but, nonetheless, this was still an impressively slick performance from Town and an improvement on last year's 3-0 victory in the same fixture, with several players - both young and old - catching the eye.

Manager Justin Edinburgh used his side's first friendly to give the majority of his squad a run-out, minus the injured Sam Hoskins, with six of the nine summer signings either starting or on the bench.

The three most recent additions - Ash Taylor, Regan Poole and Yaser Kasim - were the ones to miss out but they are expected to head to Spain for a pre-season training camp this week.

Leon Barnett celebrates the opener

Leon Barnett celebrates the opener

Another notable name in the team was Leon Lobjoit following his move from Buckingham Town in March, while also among the squad were academy duo Jarvis Wilson, who started in defence alongside Leon Barnett, and Ryan Hughes.

Starting on the left side of midfield, Lobjoit almost put Town into an early lead when denied by a fine save following an excellent run and cross from fellow new signing Billy Waters.

Dean Bowditch, who partnered club captain Marc Richards up front, fired straight at the Sileby goalkeeper as Town gradually went through the gears in the first-half, with Waters' sharp movement and slick footwork catching the eye on the right flank.

The best opening fellow to Barnett, who somehow managed to shoot straight at the goalkeeper from scarcely two yards out, before Waters' neat turn and shot from 20 yards rattled the woodwork.

Shaun McWilliams in a midfield tussle

Shaun McWilliams in a midfield tussle

The corners and shots continued to rack up for the visitors and eventually the pressure paid off with the opening goal when Barnett rolled home from close-range after a scramble inside the penalty box.

One almost became two immediately when Richards saw his shot cleared off the line following good work by Lobjoit, but the skipper didn't have to wait long to get on the score sheet when nodding home Shaun McWilliams' pinpoint cross.

Waters, who remained Town's outstanding performer, was unfortunate not to make it three as his lob landed on the roof of the net in the last act before half-time.

The break signalled a raft of changes from Edinburgh, who introduced George Smith, Sam Foley and Daniel Powell for their first run-outs in Cobblers colours, plus two unnamed trailists who featured at centre-back and midfield.

The second-half team began as dominantly as the first ended as Powell was denied by the home goalkeeper twice in quick succession while Alex Revell sliced wildly over with the goal gaping.

The third goal came not long later when Brendan Moloney and Joe Iaciofano linked up down the right before the latter crossed for Foley to roll into an empty net, and that was swiftly followed by Iaciofano poking home a fourth.

A fine fingertip stop prevented Revell from heading in a fifth but Iaciofano would not be denied moments later, and with still more than a quarter of the game remaining, any scoreline was now on the cards.

Powell and Smith were next to go close with long-range attempts, cracking the crossbar and denied by the home goalkeeper respectively, before Foley strolled into the penalty area and fired in his second and Town's sixth.

Against the run of play Sileby pulled an unlikely goal back through Eddie Appleton's smart finish, although that was quickly followed by Powell scoring his first Town goal.

Rangers struck again late on but by that stage the game was being played at walking pace, and in any case the Cobblers had the final say when Iaciofano completed his hat-trick after the goalkeeper had spilt Powell's shot.

Cobblers first-half XI: Cornell, Phillips, Wilson (academy), Barnett, Buchanan, Bowditch, Taylor, McWilliams, Waters, Richards, Lobjoit

Second-half XI: Goff, Moloney, Hughes, Trialist, Smith, Foley, Trialist, O'Toole, Powell, Revell, Iaciofano