Cobblers Under-18s set up an FA Youth Cup third round tie at Premier League Academy side Arsenal with a comfortable 2-0 win over Swindon Town at the PTS Academy Stadium on Wednesday night.
First-half goals from Jack Daldy and Morgan Roberts were enough for Jon Brady’s boys, who can now look forward to testing themselves against the Gunners youngsters, who play their home games at Boreham Wood.
A crowd of close to 600 turned out to cheer on the boys against the Robins, and with first team boss Keith Curle watching on from the stands, they took their chance to shine, much to the delight of Brady.
“I am very pleased,” said the U18s boss. “We had a really good start to the game, and Morgan Roberts set the tone with his runs in behind early on.
“The first five minutes we were a little edgy, but then we started to create a lot of chances and the keeper made some good saves.
“But then there was a fantastic delivery from Scott Pollock from a corner, a great little flick header from Jack Daldy, and that got us set on our way.
“We were comfortable in the game thereafter, moved the ball well and created a number of chances, and it was good to get the second before half-time.
“What was good was that went all out and killed the game off early, and you could see that a few of the boys got cramp after 65/70 minutes, because they had ran themselves into the ground.
“We then have ample subs to come on and do that again, so credit to all of the boys for their work-rate, it was relentless.”
The reward for Brady and his players for their win over Swindon is that trip to Arsenal, and the chance to test themselves against players in the system at a Premier League club.
“I think for a league two club, with a category three academy, to take ourselves on to play a Premier League club is great, and we are looking forward to it,” said the former Brackley Town manager.
“It is a challenge, we played Liverpool earlier in the season (in a friendly) and that was a great experience, and it will stand us in good stead to go and play Arsenal.”
The third round is due to be played in December, and the Cobblers youngsters have a few league games to play between now and then.
After an unbeaten start to the campaign, Town were beaten 2-1 at Leyton Orient in their latest EFL Youth Alliance fixture last weekend, and Brady feels the excitement of the Swindon tie affected some of his players.
He does not want the same happening between now and the Arsenal date.
“At the weekend, and this is no disrespect to Leyton Orient, the players had their eyes on the game against Swindon,” said Brady.
“They were protecting themselves for that, and you can’t do that, and we lost on Saturday.
“That was a great lesson for us that we can’t look ahead, we have to focus on the moment, and focus on what we are doing right now.”