By Tony Attwood
The visit to the Sixfields Stadium in Northampton proved to be a disappointment in terms of the result – we lost 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
But it was an interesting experience with a decent away support occupying one end of the ground with 600 of us there, making ourselves heard against a fairly quiet 1900 or so home supporters who only came to life when they scored.
Interestingly, the ground is still incomplete, after one of the developers walked away with over £10m of funding supplied by the local authority to build the east stand, with a conference centre, hotel and all the sorts of things developers talk about but then somehow don’t seem to manage to do. The area exists as a concrete shell, and no work has been undertaken on it, so I am told, since 2014.
Actually misplacing money is what Northamptonshire County Council does quite a lot (as I know since I live in the county) Last year the Conservative run authority declared itself insolvent (having previously admitted it was effectively bankrupt). The council will be wound up and has been bailed out with public money, and two new councils will be elected – quite possibly (knowing some of the electorate) with the same people involved all over again). Pesky things these councils – taking money from local people and giving it to dodgy property developers who walk off with it. Whatever next?
So, having been famous for having one of the last three sided stadiums when it played at the old County Ground, Northampton Town is pretty much in the same situation again, although I am told a lower part of the incomplete stand does have seats in it (they were not used last night).
As for the football, what made the difference was that Arsenal did not take full advantage of the rules allowing up to five over age players, but instead gave our under 21s a real chance to see what their lives could be like in the fourth tier, if they don’t make the most of their natural talent and the opportunities being at Arsenal gives them.
And the major turning point in the game came when Tobi Omole was sent off on 60 minutes for two yellow cards. After that we struggled, despite taking the lead.
The team was…
Swanson, Olowu, Clarke, Bola
Coyle, Smith Rowe, Tormey
The substitutions were of Tolaji Bola (replaced by Tobi Omole 30), Jordan McEneff (replaced by Robbie Burton 76), and Zak Swanson (replaced by Mazeed Ogbungbo 85). The substitutes not used were Tyreece John-Jules, James Hillson, and Miguel Azeez.
Miguel Azeez and Mazeed Ogungbo are both first year scholars, emphasising just how young this team was. It really was nothing like the team we could have put out – rather the game (and presumably the whole competition) is being used as an opportunity to give youngsters not being regularly used in the under 23 league, a chance to play against the grown ups.
This accords with the emphasis on bringing through youngsters into the first team squad where possible to see how they can cope with football at the top level.
Here’s the video
Under the rules of this competition, Arsenal get one point and Northampton two points.
- Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.