Trialist Hooper enhances Cobblers contract chance with hat-trick in Sileby win

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Trialist JJ Hooper strengthened his personal case for a permanent contract with the Cobblers by rattling in a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at Sileby Rangers.

The former Newcastle United striker notched moments before half-time and shortly after the interval against the United Counties League side at Fernie Fields.

EYE-CATCHER - on-trial striker JJ Hooper scored a hat-trick for the Cobblers in their friendly win at Sileby Rangers

EYE-CATCHER - on-trial striker JJ Hooper scored a hat-trick for the Cobblers in their friendly win at Sileby Rangers

He made it a treble on 53 minutes, with another on-trial player, Lateef Elford-Alliyu adding a fifth before Ian Morris headed in number five.

Ryan Ansell came off the bench to score for Sileby, whose threat was reduced by the absence of a handful of first-team players and who were gradually ground down in the blistering heat.

Five trialists turned out for the Cobblers, although striker Mickael Antonie-Currier was told immediately after the game that he would not be kept on and that he is free to pursue other offers.

Midfielder Gary Deegan, most recently of Hibs, and the Blisworth-based veteran centre-back Darren Purse was also in the starting line-up at the heart of defence.

All will be kept on with the exception of Antonie-Currier, although Purse has offers elsewhere and is likely to make way for David Artell for the next friendly, at Cogenhoe on Tuesday night.

The game was a solid contest for 40 minutes, with Hooper signalling his intent with a header that caught the underside of the bar in the early stages and Lee Collins, playing at right-back, fizzing a left-footed shot into the side-netting.

Hooper broke the deadlock when he intelligently read the spin of a ball over the top and bravely challenging advancing goalkeeper Darren Watts, leaving himself just a tap-in for the game’s opening goal.

The second goal came after a bench-emptying interval that saw six players brought on, with rolling substitutions implemented after the changes.

Lewis Hornby and Morris combined to provide Hooper with his second from close range before the hat-trick was completing after a flying run down the right by Roy O’Donovan.

Lateef-Alliyu then forced the ball home after a scramble that began with a firm Ben Tozer header and Morris glanced in a Hornby cross for the fifth.

Ansell produced a good finish with virtually the final move of the match to provide some pride for a Sileby team that gave a good account of themselves.

Harder and more varied challenges lie in wait for both these sides but they can both be pleased with their contribution, and Hooper will feel he has edged substantially closer to winning a full-time contract.

Sileby Rangers starting XI: Watts, Devereaux, Jollands, Cleaver, Crockett, Davies, Redding, Cassidy, Byrne, Sheridan

Rolling subs: Ansell, London, Inwood, Boot, Voicecz

Cobblers starting XI: Duke, Collins, Tozer, Purse, Widdowson, Elford-Alliyu, Deegan, Carter, Moyo, Hooper, Antonie-Curier

Rolling subs: Snedker, Demontagnac, Dias, Hornby, Morris, O’Donovan, Roberts, Reeve

Attendance: 953