Page gets up and running as Cobblers cruise to victory in opener
Goals from Alex Revell, John-Joe O'Toole and David Buchanan ensured it was a winning start for new Northampton chief Rob Page as the Cobblers easily overwhelmed Northampton Sileby Rangers 3-0 in their opening pre-season friendly at Fernie Fields this afternoon.
The gulf in class was evident from as early as Revell’s ninth-minute opener when the former MK Dons man capitalised on a goalkeeping mistake to net his first goal since joining the club last month.
Only wasteful finishing prevented a more one-sided final scoreline for a sharp and hungry Northampton side who created a hatful of chances, particularly in the second half, as they looked to impress their new boss.
For the fourth successive season the Cobblers opened up pre-season with this fixture against the UCL Premier Division outfit, and there were plenty of new faces on show as Page used the opportunity to asses his squad first-hand.
New signings David Cornell, Jak McCourt, Raheem Hanley and Alex Revell all started for Town, who named two separate teams for each half with Gabriel Zakuani and Aaron Phillips featuring after the interval.
Number one choice goalkeeper Adam Smith was also in attendance at Fernie Fields but sat out due to a minor ankle issue picked up in training, which presented an opportunity to young keeper James Goff in the second period.
He was one of three academy players in action on Saturday afternoon with midfielder Jamie Hall and striker Joe Iaciofano also turning out for the Cobblers, alongside 17-year-old Shaun McWilliams who has been promoted to the first team for the forthcoming season.
The game followed the form book from the outset and Sileby goalkeeper Kris Bartle was called into action inside just two minutes as he tipped wide an early Sam Hoskins which set the tone for a dominant first-half from the visitors.
Town required only nine minutes to make the breakthrough, although they were given a significant helping hand by Bartle who dilly-dallied on the ball which allowed Revell to nip in, round the goalkeeper and roll into an empty net.
Hoskins had further chances to increase the lead, first side-footing wide and then having an effort pushed wide by Bartle, as Cobblers retained the bulk of possession through the lively McCourt in midfield.
A flowing move then almost brought a second goal for Revell but he could only fire wide from six yards following good work from Hanley and McWilliams, and Revell followed that up with another effort which Sileby scrambled clear and that signalled the end of a half in which Northampton had rarely been troubled.
The second-half team picked up from where their team-mates left off and needed even less time to mark their mark as O’Toole pounced on a defensive mix-up after good play from Iaciofano to double the lead three minutes into the half.
Last season’s Player of the Year almost had a quick second but his bullet header sailed narrowly over the crossbar for Cobblers side who were now threatening to run riot.
Young Iaciofano caught the eye since coming on at half-time and he twice found pockets of space but failed to hit the target, while Jason Taylor’s low effort appeared destined for the bottom corner until a last-minute Sileby intervention.
The chances continued to come thick and fast for Northampton as a smart one-two between Marc Richards and Phillips presented a chance for Iaciofano, who was denied by Bartle, before Alfie Potter spurned a one-on-one opportunity and Richards headed straight at Bartle.
Sileby attacks were rare but they did carve out one opening midway through the second half when Goff produced a fine diving stop to deny Nathaniel Ansu.
But a third Cobblers goal was not long in coming and it arrived via an unlikely source when more good build-up play ended with left-back Buchanan shooting low into the bottom corner.
Northampton could and probably should have had more – their dominance certainly warranted further goals – but too often they were guilty of overplaying at the crucial time and three would have to do, which represents a more than satisfactory start for Page and his men, who next go to Nuneaten on Tuesday.
Cobblers first half XI: David Cornell, Brendan Moloney, Zander Diamond, Rod McDonald, Raheem Hanley, Lawson D’Ath, Jak McCourt, Sam Hoskins, Shaun McWilliams, Jamie Hall (academy), Alex Revell
Cobblers Second half XI: James Goff (academy), Aaron Phillips, Ryan Cresswell, David Buchanan, Jason Taylor, Joel Byrom, Alfie Potter, John-Joe O’Toole, Gabriel Zakuani, Joe Iaciofano, Marc Richards
Sileby Rangers: Kris Bartle, Dominic Okanu, Jacob Olivier, Leon Simpson, Joe Merrill, Paul Caswell, Troy Johnston, Medy Maki, David Halliday, Luke Fairlamb, Brian Farrell
Subs: Robert Russell, Dalton Bettles, Karlos Augustine, Nathaniel Ansu, Luke Uzoma