'When Kevin's in town, something always happens' - verdict, reaction and highlights of Scunthorpe win

There was a sense, before kick-off, that this game against Scunthorpe United could have a feel of after the Lord Mayor's show for the Cobblers following their energy-sapping exploits in the FA Cup.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 3:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 3:31 pm
Kevin van Veen

Having held Championship opposition to a draw, and with the prospect of hosting Manchester United in the next round suddenly on the table, attentions could easily have been diverted away from their more low-key but just as important league duties.

But it took just seven minutes for those fears to be dismissed as Cobblers went about their business in typically professional and largely impressive fashion against Scunthorpe.

They were not overly dominant but always in control, even before Kevin van Veen's red card, and it was important to back up the clean sheet against Derby County with another here.

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The dangerous Abo Eisa aside, Town's makeshift back three, without two stalwarts in Scott Wharton and Jordan Turnbull, had little to worry about, especially once van Veen controversially saw red for clashing with home skipper Charlie Goode shortly before half-time.

The decision itself, in isolation, was a harsh one but that hardly mattered to Cobblers fans who still feel aggrieved by the striker's questionable attitude during his turbulent 12 months at the PTS.

He was gleefully cheered from the pitch and while you could somewhat sympathise with Iron boss Paul Hurst afterwards, van Veen did not need to give the referee a decision to make when reacting to Goode.

"Kevin will be disappointed not to have been able to stay on the pitch but that's Kevin," said Keith Curle, van Veen's former manager, afterwards.

"When Kevin's in town, something always happens. On Tuesday it was a negative but on another day it will be a positive and that's just Kevin.

"He's got great ability and he's got a good understanding of what he's about as an individual but it's just a case of him fitting into the team framework."

Cobblers' stunning home record has been built, largely, on clinical finishing and that was again the foundation of Tuesday's victory.

Vadaine Oliver reaped the rewards of his recent fine form with two thoroughly deserved goals while Sam Hoskins slashed home from the penalty spot to secure all three points, but arguably the night's biggest positive was the performance of debutant James Olayinka.

The 19-year-old was impressive right from the off, making tackles, intercepting passes and of course showing good quality on the ball, as you'd expect from an Arsenal graduate.

His fizzed pass into Nicky Adams helped create the opener and he was also involved in another couple of neat moves, again cutting open United's defence to pick out Adams before whipping in a dangerous cross later in the half.

He didn't shirk the ugly side of the game, either, and that was especially impressive given this represented his first taste of the Football League.

Callum Morton was also lively during his second-half cameo and provided Town with a real threat in behind - illustrated by his work to win the late penalty - while also competing physically with his opposition.

Fellow debutant Mark Marshall was a little rusty but, all in all, it was a productive and positive night for the Cobblers.