Williams gets his first goal to hand Cobblers slender friendly win over Brackley

PROMISING: Right-back Hakeem Odoffin caught the eye during a steady first run-out for the Cobblers, 24 hours after signing for the club. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
PROMISING: Right-back Hakeem Odoffin caught the eye during a steady first run-out for the Cobblers, 24 hours after signing for the club. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Striker Andy Williams opened his account as Cobblers made it three wins from three pre-season friendlies with a 1-0 victory over Brackley Town at St James Park on Tuesday.

Signed from Doncaster Rovers earlier in the summer, Williams' well-taken goal came just shy of the hour-mark in a laboured encounter that saw Town struggle to assert themselves against the Conference North club.

Sam Foley

Sam Foley

But the nature of his side's performance is unlikely to give manager Dean Austin many sleepless nights, instead he will be pleased and relieved that his players came through another productive evening unscathed in their quest to hit peak physical condition in time for next month's season-opener against Lincoln.

The victory was a bonus and maintained Northampton's 100 per cent winning start to pre-season ahead of their week-long training camp in Spain when preparations will step up another notch.

Hakeem Odoffin started at right-back 24 hours after completing his move to the Cobblers in a strong-looking first-half team that also included Ash Taylor, David Buchanan and Shaun McWilliams.

A couple of misplaced passes at the back put Northampton into early trouble and only a sprawling low save from David Cornell prevented Daniel Nti from giving Brackley a third-minute lead, Town's goalkeeper shovelling the ball out for a corner.

Ash Taylor

Ash Taylor

Odoffin made a confident first impression with his speed, strength and composure in possession catching the eye, though his performance was a rare bright spot in an otherwise disappointing first-half that had all the excitement of a pre-season game, dominated by loose passing and a general lack of goalmouth action.

McWilliams dragged a shot wide before the game picked up in the latter stages of the opening period when Daniel Powell squandered the game's best chance to date, side-footing over from 12 yards from Williams' lay-off after Sam Hoskins had sped into the box.

Town kept with the same team at the start of the second-half but Brackley's Lee Ndlovu gave them grief straight after the restart when forcing Cornell into a smart near-post stop before the same man fired into the side-netting from an acute angle.

The game's breakthrough goal came at the other end and it was all about Williams who, nine minutes into the second period, made space for himself in the box and found the bottom corner with a precise low finish.

The expected raft of changes then followed for Town who replaced every outfield player bar McWilliams and the game fizzled out as a consequence with neither side able to take one of their several half chances in the remaining minutes.

Cobblers team for first 60 minutes: Cornell, Odoffin, Taylor, Barnett, Buchanan, Powell, S McWilliams, Foley, Bridge, Hoskins, Williams

Cobblers team for last 30 minutes: Cornell, Facey, Jay Williams, Pierre, Turnbull, Whaler, S McWilliams (C McWilliams 79), O'Toole, Waters, Roberts, Iaciofano

Brackley: Lewis, Lowe, Franklin, Byrne, Hall, Dean, Fairlamb, Armson, Smith, Nti, Murombedzi

Referee: Richard Eley

Attendance: 380