The Verdict: Town made to pay for not taking chances against young Gunners
We take a look at the talkitng points from Tuesday night’s defeat at the hands of Arsenal U21s.
Keeping the shirts
Lambert was true to his word about keeping the shirts. The team was a strong one which took the field against Arsenal’s youngsters, with only three changes from Saturday’s victory over Bristol Rovers. David Cornell came in for Tomas Holy in goal, Corrie Ndaba replaced Toto Nsiala and Myles Kenlock came in at left-back instead of Stephen Ward.
The bench was a strong one too. James Norwood was back amongst the subs alongside the likes of Gwion Edwards, Jack Lankester, Emyr Huws and Oli Hawkins.
So much was made of the constant swapping and changing last season and it certainly looks like the Town manager has learnt his lesson.
Goals change games
An obvious saying, but very true on reflection from Tuesday night. Town were dominant in the opening half, deservedly in the lead via a Jon Nolan strike and looking like victory was going to be a formality.
However, the game swung just before half-time when Arsenal’s youngsters equalised. It was a poor goal to concede. The corner was half cleared to the edge of the box, Sears then misjudged his clearance and the ball found its way to Lewis who coolly slotted the ball past Cornell.
The pendulum swung now the way of Arsenal and Town were soon chasing the game after conceding again shortly after the break. There were plenty of opportunities to equalise for the Blues, Judge was denied by a brilliant piece of goalkeeping, Huws curled an effort against the underside of the bar, Jon Nolan got the ball stuck underneath his feet when through on goal and substitute James Norwood had an effort cleared off the line, it soon had the feeling of becoming one of those nights in front of goal.
It was another good display from Andre Dozzell in the deep midfielder role. The Town youngster picked up where he left of from Saturday and was pulling the strings with a great range of passing.
Just like two out of the three goals on Saturday, the England youth international played a part in the Town goal. It was Dozzell’s fizzing ball out to Judge which started the long move which resulted in Nolan guiding Town into the lead.
Confidence and appreciation seem to be growing amongst supporters with Dozzell, who is surely now a nailed-on starter for Sunday’s opener against Wigan.
Drinan in the driving seat?
It would appear Aaron Drinan is in pole position to start Sunday’s opener against Wigan. If you would have said to me a month or so ago that Drinan would be our starting striker ahead of the likes of Norwood, Jackson and Hawkins, I would have been concerned.
To be fair to Drinan, he has took his chance. The forgotten Irishman has played himself into the side after a solid pre-season leading the line for Paul Lambert’s side.
After scoring a brace against Colchester, Drinan has followed that up with assured performances against Spurs, West Ham, Bristol Rovers and now Arsenal U21s.
Hawkins has only played around an hour of football in Town shirt, Jackson has missed the last couple of weeks with a knock and Norwood’s working his way back to fitness with another substitute appearance on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see who Lambert selects come Sunday lunchtime…
Images: Richard Calver : TOTT