Warburton scores twice as Cobblers win friendly against Cambridge
Matty Warburton scored twice as a second-string Cobblers side beat Cambridge United 4-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the PTS Academy Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
United took the lead but Warburton scored twice to turn things around before U18s forward Caleb Chukwuemeka made it 3-1 and then Jay Williams added a late fourth.
Manager Keith Curle gave much-needed minutes to goalkeeper Steve Arnold and defender Joe Martin, as well as Warburton, while several youth players were also involved, including the recalled Morgan Roberts.
The visitors created an early chance when a cross from the right found forward Andy Dallas inside the penalty area but his effort was comfortable for Arnold at his near post.
Joe Martin then advanced down the left wing on five minutes, standing up a cross to towards the centre of the six-yard box but the on-rushing Roberts couldn’t quite meet the delivery on the stretch.
Reece Hall-Johnson was then alert to win possession midway inside the Cambridge half before embarking on a powerful run into the box but his left-footed effort fell wide.
But it was the U’s who took the lead on 16 minutes as Dallas broke into the penalty area before seeing a shot saved by Arnold, only for the ball to fall kindly for winger Joe Dearman to convert from close range.
The Cobblers came close to an equaliser six minutes later when Scott Pollock curled a free-kick into the penalty area but Ryan Hughes’ header was saved by visiting ‘keeper Fin Iron.
Warburton got Northampton back on level terms on 31 minutes following good link-up play with Roberts on the edge of the box, with the forward doing well to work space for a left-footed shot which found the corner of the net.
Ben Worman wasn’t far away from restoring the visitors’ lead after timing his run into the penalty area well to meet a cross from the right, but his header was wide of Arnold’s right-hand post.
Warburton almost got his name on the scoresheet again just before half-time as Roberts had an acrobatic effort saved, but from the follow-up Warburton’s strike was well blocked from close range whilst he also saw a low shot well saved by Iron.
Neat footwork from half-time substitute Chukwuemeka saw him get past his marker and into the penalty area before finding Pollock in support but the midfielder’s chipped effort dropped over the crossbar.
The Cobblers then took the lead on 57 minutes when Warburton raced on to a through-ball from midfield, beat his marker and slotted the ball calmly into the bottom corner to double his tally for the afternoon.
Another substitute, Camron McWilliams, burst down the right side and got to the by-line before a cross to the back-post found Chukwuemeka at the back-post but his effort on the stretch fell just wide.
Chukwuemeka made no mistake a few moments later though as he was picked out by a superb Hall-Johnson cross from wide on the right to put Northampton 3-1 up on 67 minutes.
A fourth then followed almost straight after. Football & Education Programme product and fellow U18s striker Ethan Johnston had a shot tipped behind for a corner, with the resulting delivery finding Williams to head into the net.
Cambridge came close to getting a goal back on 75 minutes when Norville-Williams showed good pace on the left before crossing for Dallas, but his volley was blocked just wide and the resulting corner was cleared.
A lively counter-attack from the visitors saw the pacey Alex Mansaray advance down the left channel before finding Norville-Williams on the edge of the area but a strong challenge from McWilliams put a halt to the attack and the Cobblers could clear.
Pollock then almost made it 5-1 as the clock ticked towards 90 but his left-footed strike hit the side-netting after being well picked out inside the box by Martin, with the Cobblers seeing out the remainder of the game to earn a convincing victory.