Potter impresses Page as fringe players get their chance against Hammers Under-21s

Cobblers boss Rob Page watches his Cobblers team draw 1-1 with West Ham United Under-21s, before seeing them lose 3-2 in a penalty shootout (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Cobblers boss Rob Page watches his Cobblers team draw 1-1 with West Ham United Under-21s, before seeing them lose 3-2 in a penalty shootout (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Alfie Potter was the pick of the bunch for Cobblers boss Rob Page on Tuesday evening as several fringe players were given the chance to impress in the Checkatrade Trophy tie with West Ham Under-21s.

Making nine changes to the team which beat Harrow Borough on Saturday, Page handed game-time to a number of those players who have barely featured this term, including the likes of Joel Byrom, Rod McDonald, Emmanuel Sonupe and Potter.

And despite losing 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes, Page felt the evening was a productive one, with Potter particularly impressing the Northampton manager.

“It was a worthwhile exercise,” he said. “Both teams couldn’t get through so it was an opportunity for me to give minutes on the pitch and that served a purpose.

“We got through 90 minutes with no injuries and we had a chance to look at the squad as a whole.

“It’s alright players talking to me through the week and saying they should be in the team, well go and show me out there because tonight’s your opportunity.

West Ham United Under-21s manager Terry Westley

West Ham United Under-21s manager Terry Westley

“I thought Alfie was the bright spark tonight.

“He was willing, he wanted to get on the ball and he had a good night.”

The team that ended Tuesday’s game included not a single starter from Saturday as Page withdrew both David Buchanan and Zander Diamond at half-time to further utilise his big squad.

Raheem Hanley and McDonald both came on, while there was also an opportunity and first team debut for academy player Joe Iaciofiano.

Page added: “We went with Buchs and Zander knowing that they were going to play 45 minutes because I needed Raheem to get some minutes on his way back from injury.

“He came through it unscathed and Rod came on and did okay as well so it served a purpose.

“We want to win every game we go into and the manner we lost is disappointing because if you’re going to miss penalties, at least try and smash the net off.

“But there was no injuries and now we look forward to a cracking game at Gillingham.”