Productive night for Curle after Cobblers see off Arsenal youngsters on spot-kicks

Keith Curle
Keith Curle

Cobblers boss Keith Curle came away feeling upbeat by his side's performance after they fended off Arsenal U21s via a penalty shoot-out in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.

Despite having a man sent off on the hour-mark, Arsenal took a surprise lead at the PTS when James Olayinka was left in acres of space to convert a left-wing cross 13 minutes from full-time.

Cobblers hit back though and were level through Sam Hoskins' excellent strike six minutes later, which made for a penalty shoot-out to see who would claim the extra point.

With Hoskins, Shaun McWilliams, Ryan Watson and Billy Waters all successful from 12 yards, the Cobblers prevailed 4-3.

"It was a good game played at the right tempo and the approach by both teams was in the right manner," said Curle afterwards.

"We showed tonight that we were organised, disciplined and had good character after going a goal down.

"The goal was disappointing and that's what happens when one person within the chain doesn't do his job - you get punished.

"The higher up you go, the clubs look for that weakness but for the majority of the game we got our rewards."

Arsenal's youngsters were technically impressive and passed the ball about with complete confidence, presenting the Cobblers with a different type of test compared to their usual League Two opponents.

Curle thought his side coped well though, adding: "They're very pleasing on the eye, they have good understanding, they're brave with the football and they move you around.

"To play for Arsenal and to wear their shirt past the age of 18 you've got expectations on you, but we played from a shape and we needed to because we knew how they wanted to play.

"We tried to set some traps for them and we only had one coaching day on the Monday but the players understood their roles very well and they got their rewards."