Three straight defeats for Cobblers as Brackley edge to friendly victory
Cobblers fell to a third successive defeat on Tuesday evening when beaten 1-0 by non-league Brackley Town in their fifth pre-season friendly.
Town were the dominant force for the first 20 minutes at St James Park but gradually Saints edged back into the contest and if anything shaded the second-half when Tendai Daire scored the only goal of the game.
After defeats to both Sheffield clubs earlier in the week, Cobblers were expected to return to winning ways on Tuesday and produce a more front-foot performance, but the night instead belonged to the National League North hosts.
Northampton defended well for the most part and coughed up few chances but it was the lack of action in the final third that might give cause for concern going forward as they struggled to overly test home goalkeeper Jake Weaver in failing to score for the third consecutive game.
Keith Curle again rotated his players for Town's fifth pre-season friendly, recalling the likes of Steve Arnold, Reece Hall-Johnson and Nicky Adams, but there was still no sign of Alan McCormack although he was present at St James Park.
A sharp start from the Cobblers should have been rewarded with an early goal when Adams swung in a superb cross but somehow neither Andy Williams nor Matty Warburton were able to convert, both heading against the crossbar from close-range.
Warburton connected with another right-wing cross, this time delivered by Hall-Johnson, to shoot straight at Weaver before Lee Ndlovu had Brackley's first chance of the night when out-muscling Charlie Goode and having an effort saved by Arnold.
After being outplayed for the first 20 minutes, Brackley ended the first-half on top and they could easily have led at half-time after chances for Matt Lowe, Shane Byrne and Jimmy Armson.
Curle had tweaked Town's formation to 4-2-3-1 for this game but it failed to yield a first goal since their 1-1 draw with Coventry City in Spain 11 days earlier as the teams went in goalless at the break.
Half-time brought the usual raft of chances with David Cornell, Chris Lines, Joe Bunney, Ryan Watson, Vadaine Oliver and Harry Smith all introduced by Curle.
Bunney's sliding tackle prevented a certain tap-in within seconds of the restart before trialist Robbie Simpson, on for Scott Pollock, had a shot blocked at the other end and Watson's stinging long-range attempt was parried to safety.
Brackley continued to give as good as they had and it was not entirely undeserved when they moved in front on 73 minutes, Daire slotting past Cornell after Cobblers failed to clear the danger.
Daire lifted over a second opportunity four minutes later and despite further substitutions in the remaining 15 minutes, Town's only remaining chance came in the final minute when Watson's well-struck volley clipped the outside of the post.
Brackley: Weaver, Myles, Franklin, Byrne, Langmead, Dean, Lowe, Murombedzi, Ndlovu, Armson, Baker
Subs: Baker, Holman, Daire, Fairlamb, Audel, Lewis
Cobblers: Arnold (Cornell 45), Goode (J Williams 77), Turnbull (Bunney 45), Hall-Johnson, Martin (Hughes 77), Pollock (Simpson 40) (Newell 64), McWilliams (Lines 45), Adams (Roberts 77), Warburton (Watson 45), Hoskins (Oliver 45), A Williams (Smith 45)
Referee: Oliver Mackey