Hill rejects claim that Scunthorpe cost Cobblers promotion after fielding youngsters in Rovers thrashing

Scunthorpe started with six players who had fewer than five senior appearances

By James Heneghan
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 9:53 am
Keith Hill.
Keith Hill.

Scunthorpe manager Keith Hill has rejected the suggestion that his team selection cost Northampton promotion after they were hammered 7-0 by Bristol Rovers on the final day of the season.

Scunny, already relegated and bottom of the table, started with six players who had fewer than five senior appearances, including a 17-year-old in goal, in a crucial game that impacted the race for third place.

They were 2-0 down at half-time and then shipped five times in the second 45 minutes as Rovers dramatically overturned a five-goal deficit to cruelly snatch promotion from the Cobblers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“It was a very difficult game to try and manage, but with the young players we had out it was almost impossible, they were just better than us,” said Hill.

“We started the game brightly, conceded an own goal, and then the curve and the momentum of the game changed completely. We were overrun and outplayed, but you hope that the players, especially the young ones, learn from these difficulties. They’re difficult football moments where you have to learn.

“A lot of players got things wrong, and I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus because it’s unfair, but in our situation that was the worst-case scenario to expect. We got a footballing lesson and there’s no doubt about that.”

Following Saturday’s results, social media was awash with angry Cobblers fans who felt Hill’s team selection went agains the integrity of the competition and played into Rovers’ hands.

Hill added: "It’s the way that I’ve decided to go with the young players to try and give them the experience. I wanted them to enjoy the experience of playing in front of a big crowd against a good side, but from a football perspective they were miles better than us.

“You can see why they’ve been promoted. They haven’t been promoted because they’ve beaten us 7-0 today even though everyone will be suggesting that from Northampton, through to Port Vale, through to anyone else in the promotion pack. The fact of the matter is they’ve done it over 46 games, and we haven’t irrespective of whatever squad of players we have got.”