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By Josh Grant
Northampton town came away from a sunny Underhill today with a 2-0 victory, but Barnet were unlucky to not claim at least a draw in a mainly uneventful afternoon.
A trio of trialists started off in midfield, with Dean Sinclair and Dwaine Lee in the centre and two goal hero against St. Albans Alex Meechan on the right, and Richard Graham on the left. Grazioli and Hatch started up front for the bees who saw former player Scott McGleish play up front for Northampton.
And it was indeed Grazioli and McGleish who saw the best chances of the early exchanges. First Grazioli went close after Graham picked out Meechan out wide, where he found a lot of space in the opening stages. Meecham crossed the ball to Grazioli in the centre, but he was unable to get enough power to trouble Mark Bunn in the Northampton goal. Then McGleish had a goal ruled out for offside after he moved too early from an opening after a casual Yakubu pass.
Barnet went on well from there with Graham having a good effort saved after fifteen minutes when he found himself free on the back post following a Meechan cross. Unfortunately for Graham the ball fell just behind him but he showed excellent technique to blast a volley to sting Bunn's hands.
Barnet continued to press and Hatch had a good chance to hit the target when Grazioli worked hard to pickpocket a Northampton defender. However, Hatch's effort was tame and he should really have hit the target. Grazioli had his best effort of the game with nearly fifteen minutes until half time. The cobblers' defender seemed to slip when going for a header on the edge of the area with Grazioli lurking.
The ball hit the defender on the floor and Grazioli was eager to pick up the loose ball, however support was slow to arrive as he was forced wide. He could wait no longer so had a shot himself but the angle was too acute meaning the ball could only cannon off the post. Northampton almost instantly replied to that chance in a quick break down the right, the ball was crossed on the floor with the centre forward Eric Sabin bearing down on goal. However, King did superbly to tuck in and produce a goal saving tackle.
However, only minutes later Sabin got the better of King, playing the ball around him, and running through in the area on the right. King was unlucky to clip Sabin as he cut across his path, and with help from the assistant referee a penalty was awarded. Ex Bee McGleish duly blasted the ball home, but there was no trademark somersault this time for the man in his thirty-first year.
Changes were made at half time for Barnet with Nicky Bailey and former cobbler Greg Lincoln coming on for Lee and Meechan. Captain Ian Hendon had also been replaced just before half time with the big Lionel Djebi coming on, which meant Ismail Yakubu was accommodated at right back.
Graham started the second half off as he had played most of the first, and forced the Northampton 'keeper to tip over from another superb volley following good work from the enthusiastic Lincoln on the right.
Graham was soon replaced, as were the front two of Hatch and Grazioli, as Roache and Strevens came on. Roache was energetic but often too much so as he was caught offside on a number of occasions, but also had two penalty appeals against the comparably large Northampton defenders.
Steve Morrison then had the chance to rap the affair up for the visitors with ten minutes left, but somehow managed to hit the ball over from only yards following good work from the generally impressive Sabin to get a cross in. But luckily for Morrison he was given the chance to put things right following a mix up between Millard and Plummer meant Plummer cleared the ball up in the air presenting almost an open goal for Morrison, who only had to side foot the ball in on the volley.
Harsh for Barnet who for long periods had controlled the ball as both teams found it hard to beat the afternoon heat. A draw may have been a more fair result but the game still provided Paul Fairclough's men with a good workout before the start of the season which comes ever closer, something no doubt fans should look forward to, especially with the ever impressive Graham on the left.
Gore (Millard 71), King, Hendon (Djebi 45), Plummer, Yakubu, Meechan (Lincoln 46), Sinclair, Lee (Bailey 46), Graham (Clist 58), Hatch (Roache 52), Grazioli (Strevens 52)
Bunn, Low (Carruthers 60), Chambers, Jaszczun, Willmott, Murray (Galbriath 60), Rowson, Amoo (Hicks 70), McGleish (Morison 70), Sabin, Youngs.
Subs not used: Graham, Reeves.
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