Midfielder Deegan dominates as Cobblers see off Stoke youngsters

GOAL GLEE - Cobblers striker JJ Hooper celebrates his goal for the Cobblers against Stoke (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
GOAL GLEE - Cobblers striker JJ Hooper celebrates his goal for the Cobblers against Stoke (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
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New signing Gary Deegan turned in a classy performance as Cobblers claimed a 2-1 win over a Stoke City development side at Sixfields.

Deegan, who penned a permanent Town contract on Thursday, ran the show from the centre of midfield as his side grabbed the victory.

Cobblers V Stoke City development team.

Cobblers V Stoke City development team.

JJ Hooper and an own goal from substitute Ben Heneghan sealed the win, while Marcel Barrington netted a late consolation for Stoke’s youngsters.

But it was Deegan who will have had the 521 fans inside a sun-drenched Sixfields purring as he put in a tidy display alongside another impressive capture, Darren Carter.

The inexperienced Stoke side, which did include one senior name, former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant, provided a tricky test.

But the Cobblers showed plenty of tenacity to record a good result seven days ahead of the start of the new SkyBet League Two season, at York.

Cobblers V Stoke City development team.

Cobblers V Stoke City development team.

And the performance of Deegan and Carter in the Town engine room is likely to be what will have impressed boss Aidy Boothroyd most.

Boothroyd did include two trialists in his starting 11, with Kevin Amankwaah getting another run-out at right-back and Corby winger Josh Moreman given a chance up front.

And while Amankwaah had a mixed time during his 89 minutes on the pitch, Moreman, who was a trialist at Sixfields during Ian Sampson’s reign, did well during his hour of action.

Former Hull winger Danny Emerton was also given a run-out, playing the final half an hour and going close on a couple of occasions.

Cobblers V Stoke City development team.

Cobblers V Stoke City development team.

It was to be a lively encounter as the visitors, whose first team is renowned for their use of steel over style, looked to play the ball through midfield as much as possible early on.

Striker Karim Rossi’s poor chance saw a foray behind the home defence wasted as Stoke tried to assert themselves from the off.

The Cobblers looked tidy, though, with new signings Deegan and Ian Morris trying to pull the strings at every possible opportunity.

Morris was having a big influence on proceedings and after his initial effort was parried by Dan Bauchmann, Hooper took the chance to open the scoring for Town.

The 19-year-old striker, who put pen to paper on a permanent Cobblers deal earlier in the week, reacted quickly to grab his fifth goal of the pre-season campaign so far.

And Hooper nearly took that tally to six soon after, firing in a half-volley from the edge of the area that Bauchmann did well to push round the post.

At the other end, Matt Duke had to be alert to push away a fizzing Rossi effort before pushing the striker’s header from Pennant’s whipped free-kick over the bar.

The Cobblers had been pegged back a bit, but Deegan’s quick feet gave them a midfield escape route and his break resulted in Morris having a tame shot saved.

Stoke were still posing problems on the left, with tricky winger James Campbell giving Amankwaah a difficult afternoon.

With half-time approaching, Campbell cut inside and freed James Alabi, but again the shot was too close to Duke.

When the keeper was eventually beaten, Carter came to his rescue, scrambling Alex Grant’s powerful header off the line.

While Stoke were on top just before the break, Cobblers emerged from it on the front foot and wasted no time in extending their lead.

After Roy O’Donovan’s drive was saved by Bauchmann, Carter swung in a corner, which half-time substitute Heneghan could only deflect into his own net.

O’Donovan, who had looked sharp, was taken off with half an hour to go as trialist Emerton was sent on out wide and Moreman was pushed up front.

Moreman almost made a big impression in his new role, sending the ball whistling over the bar from substitute Ishmel Demontagnac’s lay-off.

Emerton was next to hit the empty seats behind the Stoke goal as his acrobatic effort flew over Bauchmann’s bar.

The winger also scuffed an effort wide before Duke was forced into action at the other end, tipping George Waring’s header over.

Stoke did finally get a goal back as Barrington blasted in with four minutes to go, but Cobblers had done enough to secure the win.

Next up is a home clash with Leicester City on Tuesday night before the main business begins on Saturday.

Match facts

Cobblers: Duke, Amankwaah (Reeve 89), Tozer, Collins, Widdowson, Morris (Dias 74), Carter (Demontagnac 63), Deegan (Artell 74), Moreman (Moyo 60), O’Donovan (Emerton 58), Hooper (Toney 74).

Subs not used: Heath, Roberts.

Stoke City: Bauchmann, Gomez, Glasgow, Ward, Watkins-Clark, Pennant, Wheeler, Alabi, Rossi, Campbell.

Subs: Heneghan, Alcock, Quesada, Westley, Waring, Nardiello, Monlouis, Strong, Barrington.

Referee: I Rathbone

Attendance: 521