Cobblers 0 Sheffield United 2 - Five talking points from Saturday's pre-season friendly

Ryan Watson enjoyed a good game in midfield for the Cobblers on Saturday (Pictures: Pete Norton)
Ryan Watson enjoyed a good game in midfield for the Cobblers on Saturday (Pictures: Pete Norton)

The Cobblers suffered their second home defeat of the pre-season campaign on Saturday when they were beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United.

The loss at the hands of Chris Wilder's men came just a few days after Sheffield Wednesday had cruised to an emphatic 4-0 win at the PTS Academy Stadium.

It was an improved performance from a stronger Town team on Saturday, and Keith Curle will have been pleased to have restricted their Premier League visitors to two goals, both from penalty kicks.

But what did we learn from the weekend encounter? Here Jeremy Casey highlights five talking points.

David Cornell is up for the goalkeeping fight
The signing of Steve Arnold from Sky Bet League One side Shrewsbury Town over the summer will have been seen by many as the arrival of a new number one at the PTS Academy Stadium.

But David Cornell showed on Saturday that he is not going to give up his position between the sticks without a fight.

Cobblers goalkeeper David Cornell

Cobblers goalkeeper David Cornell

The Welshman was the undisputed no.1 last season, and didn't really let anybody down, and on Saturday he was very impressive in all aspects of his game.

He made three or four very good stops, with Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick in particular finding him a hard man to get past!

So it looks like it is game on in the battle to grab the keeper's jersey


Charlie Goode lifted by captaincy
Charlie Goode showed how good a player he was when he played the final four months of last season for Cobblers, on loan from Scunthorpe United.

Charlie Goode looked right at home as Cobblers skipper

Charlie Goode looked right at home as Cobblers skipper

Most fans were delighted to see him sign on permanently in the summer, putting pen to paper on a three-year deal, and Cobblers boss Keith Curle was certainly pleased to land one of his number one transfer targets.

Curle clearly sees something special in central defender Goode, as he has also made the 23-year-old the first team skipper - and he led the team out for the first time on Saturday.

If Goode had any anxiety or nerves about that decision, he certainly didn't show it and led by example from the first kick of the game, setting the tone for Town's bright start to the game by dispossessing McGoldrick and sending Andy Williams in on goal.

Speaking after the match , the pride Goode feels at being made captain was clear to see, and Curle will be hoping it's a decision that brings even more out of the player.


Ryan Watson looking the part
Now in his third stint at the Cobblers, this is a big season for Ryan Watson as he looks to really progress his professional career - and the early signs are promising.

Joe Bunney

Joe Bunney

Playing in central midfield for Town in the two pre-season friendlies against Sheffield Wednesday and then Sheffield United has been a pretty thankless task.

Both Steel City sides dominated possession and possessed real quality in the middle third, which meant it was hard work for whoever played for the Cobblers.

But Watson made a pretty good fist of it, showing good discipline and energy without the ball, and on Saturday showing flashes of creativity when he got the chance to get the ball at his feet as well.

Now 25, Watson is entering his prime years as a footballer, and it could be that third time lucky, the Cobblers have got him at just the right time.


Still a lot of work to be done
The two friendlies against the Sheffield giants have been pretty tough watches for the Cobblers fans who have turned out to watch their new-look team.

Against a very slick Wednesday, and again on Saturday against a very well drilled United, it has been a case of damage limitation for the Cobblers.

Now, that's not ideal when you are playing at home, but Keith Curle made it pretty clear he wanted these games to be hard for his players, he wanted them stretched and exposed, and that has been the case.

They have also highlighted that the squad is still light in certain areas, and that reinforcements are needed in defence, both centrally and on the right side, and also in forward areas.

The fact that two trialists started on Saturday in Remeao Hutton and Curtis Yebli, and another, Robbie Simpson, came off the bench, only underlines it.

That said, the team has had very little opportunity to show what it can do as an attacking force, but this week's games against Brackley Town on Tuesday and then Milton Keynes Dons on Friday will hopefully offer them the opportunity to do just that.

With the big Sky Bet League Two kick-off is just 12 days away, the Cobblers team is not the finished article by any means, and Curle has plenty to do to ensure the team is firing against Walsall on August 3.

Joe Bunney seems to be back in the good books
Transfer-listed at the end of last season, it looked pretty certain that Joe Bunney didn't have much of a futre at the Cobblers.

He spent last season on loan at Blackpool and then Rochdale, and was quickly earmarked as surplus to requirements by Keith Curle back in May, who told the player he was welcome to find a new club.

But the 25-year-old has returned for pre-season, and has clearly impressed Curle, who has played him in every pre-season friendly.

A left-back or wing-back by trade, Curle has trusted Bunney as the left-sided defender in a back three, and, although there have been some uncomfortable moments, he has acquitted himself pretty well in there.

He certainly didn't look out of his depth against Sheffield United on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see how the situation plays from here.