Powell and Waters double up as Cobblers ease to friendly win over St Albans
Cobblers maintained their winning start to pre-season with a trouble-free 4-0 victory over Conference South outfit St Albans City on a sweltering Saturday afternoon at Clarence Park.
Winger Daniel Powell was the star performer and his two early goals gave Town, who were dominant in the opening period, a 2-0 lead which they then built on in the second-half courtesy of two neat finishes from Billy Waters.
Like at Sileby in midweek, Cobblers fielded two different teams for each half and the most notable inclusion was that of midfielder Matt Crooks who started alongside Sam Foley in central midfield having sat out Tuesday's opening friendly.
Within 12 minutes of Saturday's clash in Hertfordshire starting, Town were two goals to the good and deservedly so after early chances had come and gone for Sam Hoskins.
The impressive Powell opened the scoring when, having beaten his man and cut inside, his shot took a wicked deflected off a home defender and trickled into the net, wrong-footing the goalkeeper.
It was two within 90 seconds for the visitors and while the same man netted again, the credit this time belonged to Crooks as his exquisite through ball sliced open the St Albans back four and found Powell, who rounded the 'keeper and tapped home.
Powell had the beating of his man every time down the right flank and he was at the heart of another chance for Town when whipping in a fine cross for Andy Williams, who was unable to get the required contact on his header.
St Albans weren't without their opportunities either as they hit the crossbar with a header at 0-0 and also shot just wide when trailing 2-0 but Powell remained the game's outstanding player and twice he almost completed his hat-trick, denied by the goalkeeper's legs before shooting over.
New signing Williams displayed some neat link-up play at the top of the pitch and he was unlucky not to score himself when hitting the underside of the crossbar with an 18-yard, first-time shot from Powell's lay-off.
The Cobblers changed their entire 11 for the second-half with youth players Jay Williams, Morgan Roberts, Joe Iaciofano and goalkeeper James Goff all emerging after the break, though they struggled to maintain the same dominance as the first-half team.
Town's football was more disjointed and less fluent, which gave St Albans encouragement to go forward and get back into the game but they were unable to capitalise with young Goff producing a couple of decent stops between the posts.
Soon it was to be 3-0 courtesy of Waters' tidy finish after racing through on goal, although Dean Austin was dealt a blow 15 minutes from time when Kevin van Veen was forced off with a muscle injury.
Iaciofano was moved to a more advanced position as a result and immediately he had two chances to add to Town's advantage but failed to hit the target both times, side-footing wide and then sending a chip over the crossbar.
Cobblers also had a goal belatedly ruled out for offside but it didn't matter just moments later when Waters doubled his personal tally by jinking into the penalty box and bending a shot into the far corner, rounding off a productive afternoon's work.
Cobblers first-half: Cornell, Phillips, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan, Powell, Crooks, Foley, Bridge, Hoskins, Williams
Second-half: Goff, Facey, Jay Williams (academy), Barnett, Turnbull, Waters, McWilliams, O'Toole, Roberts, Iaciofano, van Veen (Camron McWilliams 75)