Cobblers push West Ham close with encouraging display in slender friendly defeat
Northampton Town 1 West Ham United 2
Cobblers continued their preparations for the new season with an encouraging performance in defeat to West Ham United as supporters returned to Sixfields on Tuesday evening.
The Premier League Hammers started like a train and threatened to take the game away from their hosts with two goals in the first 13 minutes, but Town steadied things and halved the deficit through Sam Hoskins.
Then came the usual flurry of substitutions, however Cobblers only got better in the second-half and created more than enough chances to take something from the game, though the display itself will please manager Jon Brady.
Trialist Josh Debayo again played at left-back for the Cobblers and home supporters, making a long-awaited return to Sixfields, also got their first glimpse of Hull City loanee Jordan Flores who started in central midfield after missing out at Sileby.
Monday's newest recruit Aaron McGowan had to make do with a place on the bench, where he was joined by Caleb Chukwuemeka and Camron McWilliams.
West Ham were not at full strength but the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Jarrod Bowen both started, and the latter was involved in the opening goal with only 90 seconds on the clock when his cross was miscued into the net by home defender Sid Nelson.
Hoskins dragged a shot narrowly wide for Town but West Ham were showing their Premier League class and on 13 minutes they had a second goal, Conor Coventry with neat footwork and a fine finish from the edge of the box.
But whilst at times the Hammers looked a cut above their hosts, Cobblers were not without their moments and they pulled one goal back on the half-hour as Benny Ashley-Seal showed excellent awareness to pounce on Mitch Pinnock's half-saved effort and pick out Hoskins who had a tap-in.
Nathan Holland spurned a chance to restore United's two-goal lead when blazing over five minutes later before Brady rang the changes at half-time.
Jonny Maxted, Fraser Horsfall, Paul Lewis, Shaun McWilliams, Dylan Connolly and new boy McGowan all came on for the second-half and the next batch of changes followed on the hour-mark as Scott Pollock, Josh Flanagan, Liam Cross and Chukwuemeka were also introduced.
Connolly's pace on the right caused a few problems and Cobblers were almost back level through the lively Pollock, who did well to make room for the shot before forcing a good save out of Nathan Trott.
Trott was called upon again three minutes later as another well-worked move saw Chukwuemeka, Pollock and Connolly combine to set up Lewis for a 20-yard effort that needed dealing with.
Lewis' rasping volley deflected over the angle of post and bar and Fraser Horsfall flashed a header just wide as Town's valiant second-half display fell just short.
Cobblers: Roberts (Maxted 45), Harriman (McGowan 45), Nelson (Horsfall 45), Guthrie (c) (Flanagan 61), Debayo (trialist) (C McWlliams, trialist, 72), Sowerby (Lewis 45), Flores (McWilliams 45), Hoskins (Connolly 45), Pinnock (Cross 61), Ashley-Seal (Pollock 61), Rose (Chukwuemeka 61)
Subs: C McWilliams (trialist)
West Ham: Trott, Alese, Appiah-Forson (Rossa 77), Alves, Dawson, Fredericks, Holland, Odubeko (Swyer 85), Bowen, Lanzini, Coventry
Subs: Nevers, Ashley, Hegyi
Referee: Andy Woolmer