Potter magic seals win for Cobblers at Brackley

A second-half double from Alfie Potter put the seal on a comfortable 3-0 victory for Cobblers in the NFA Maunsell Cup final at Brackley Town.
TWO GOALS - Alfie Potter scored twice as the Cobblers beat Brackley 3-0 EMN-150721-115531002TWO GOALS - Alfie Potter scored twice as the Cobblers beat Brackley 3-0 EMN-150721-115531002
TWO GOALS - Alfie Potter scored twice as the Cobblers beat Brackley 3-0 EMN-150721-115531002

Marc Richards opened the scoring with a header in the first half and former Oxford United man Potter, a summer signing, put the game beyond Brackley after the break.

Cobblers had lost 1-0 against the same side in the Maunsell Cup showpiece four years ago, but they never looked in danger of suffering a repeat on this occasion.

And it was a useful work-out for Chris Wilder’s men against a spirited Conference North side who were more than competitive.

With just two weeks to go until the Sky Bet League Two opener at Bristol Rovers, Cobblers showed good cohesion, with Nicky Adams and Potter pulling the strings.

It was a team without Ivan Toney, who did travel but was not part of the squad, with Town taking the decision to leave him out amid mounting interest from higher-level clubs.

Tom Newey was in the 18 though, with the unattached left-back, who was released by Cobblers at the end of last season, taking his place on the bench.

Town, in their yellow third kit, started brightly on the sun-soaked St James’ Park pitch, with Lawson D’Ath’s dangerous centre failing to find a target in the box.

At the other end, former Cobblers winger Greg Kaziboni was denied by two last-gasp blocks in a matter of seconds before Sam Smith forced Adam Smith into a low save to his right.

The away side’s first real effort at goal was a shot from livewire Adams, who fired wide.

Adams then sent a ball through for Potter and sloppy defending allowed the winger to latch onto it, drilling the ball goalwards and bringing a save from Dan Crane.

Cobblers, and Adams in particular, were starting to grow into the game - and they were to take the lead 25 minutes in.

Adams’ lofted ball into the area found Richards, who made no mistake with the header from the edge of the six-yard box.

Brackley were almost level before the break though, as centre-back Curtis McDonald flew forward and smashed a shot against the bar from more than 30 yards out.

The assured Smith saved the follow-up from Owen Story before Cobblers threatenedto add to their tally.

Twice Adams sent in crosses for Potter, who headed both efforts at keeper Crane.

Brackley almost levelled the scores immediately after half-time as Kaziboni’s fizzing waist-high half-volley flew just over.

But it was to be Cobblers who struck first in the second half as Potter showed impressive tenacity, robbing McDonald of the ball, dancing round the keeper and slotting home.

Potter nearly made it three with a low shot that was stopped by the legs of Crane before Zander Diamond headed over.

Both sides then opted to make the most of their substitutes, giving valuable game time to players ahead of the new season.

The life drained out of the game but Potter remained a thorn in the side of the hosts.

And after Brackley failed to clear their lines, the wide man cooly finished from the edge of the box.

Cobblers saw out the final moments to pick up a clean sheet and the trophy.

Brackley Town: Crane, Graham, Morley, Austin (Borg 63), McDonald (Sharpe 75), Kaziboni, Walker, Batchelor, Story (Moyo 59), Winters, Smith (Green 75).

Subs not used: Farrell, Whittall.

Cobblers: Smith, Lelan, Buchanan (Newey 70), Taylor, Diamond (McDonald 75), Cresswell, D’Ath (Hackett 75), Byrom, Adams (O’Toole 75), Potter, Richards.

Subs not used: Clarke, Warburton, Clifton.

Attendance: 464