Youth Team Match Reports (Thanks to Steve Whitney)
Wednesday, March 12th v Northampton Spencer
Due to the two respective teams having a reserve team fixture at Kingsthorpe
Mill on the same night, the youth team were without a number of key players
for this game against high-flying Northampton Spencer, including the entire
However, it gave us a good opportunity to have a look at a few of the
under-16 lads that have been training with us for a while, and five were to
make the debuts on the night.
The early signs were extremely encouraging, with the Ar Tarn lads battling
for every ball and winning most of the midfield battles which, considering
its inexperience, was a real plus.
Indeed, midway through the opening period a good move ended with striker
Jake Cucciniello laying the ball off to one of the young debutants, Ben
Baines, who lashed the ball into the corner of the net from fully 25 yards
for one of the best goals of the season so far.
The first half was excellent. However, the second was a totally different
story. Kicking downhill with the wind, Spencer showed just why they are
rated as one of the best sides in the league and put Desborough under
It came as little surprise when they equalised and then added three more
later, although two were blatantly offside!
Despite the final scoreline, the performances of Baines, Callum Bond and
later Craig Misciali, Levi Robinson and Ashley Hustwayte, although they
understandably tired, gives great hope for the future, and with only two
players in the squad unavailable next season, it looks as though we shall
have a more than useful squad.
Wednesday, March 19th. v Kempston Rovers Youth
Kempston fought back from being 2-0 down to force a draw, although the
equalising goal came from hotly-disputed penalty.
Desborough started well and the front pairing of Adam Dainty and Andy
Sanders were causing the Kempston rearguard all sorts of problems.
It came as little surprise, therefore, when Ar Tarn took the lead after 18
minutes when the two combined for Sanders to neatly beat the `keeper from 12
The second goal, 10 minutes later, was all Dainty's own work as he raced
onto a through pass, outpaced the defence, and smashed the ball powerfully
into the net.
Desborough looked to be coasting with the defence looking pretty solid, but,
just before the half-time interval, a breakaway saw Kempston pull one back
with a very good lob over 'keeper Brad Wilson.
The second half saw a change of tactics by the home side, pushing an extra
man into midfield, but Desborough coped well until midway through the half
when the referee awarded a penalty for an alleged foul by Luke Bewers,
although few, including the Kempston bench, saw anything in the incident.
Wilson, something of an expert at saving penalties, got his hand to the shot
but couldn't prevent it reaching the corner of the net.
Desborough then put on an extra attacker and had chances to win the game,
but in the end had to be content with a draw.
Next Thursday (March 27th) the youth team travel to S & L Corby in the
semi-final of the Knockout Cup and the whole 22-man squad will be enjoying a
pre-match meal at The Warren in Kettering before leaving for Corby.
Knockout Cup Semi-Final
S & L v Desborough Town (Thursday, March 27th)
For the second successive season Desborough lost in the semi-final of the
Knockout Cup and, like last year, suffered a blow just before the kick-off.
In 2002 it was the loss of centre-half Andy Watson just before the start
that hampered Ar Tarn's youngsters, this time it was striker Adam Dainty who
had to pull out after originally being in the starting line-up with shin
However, his replacement, Jake Cucciniello, who still has a metal pin in his
leg after a triple leg break at the start of last season, couldn't have
wished for a better start, giving the visitors an early 8th minute lead.
S & L, league leaders and undoubtedly the best team in the division this
season, always threatened but a battling display from the Desborough lads
was keeping them at bay, until midway through the half when they equalised
with an excellent finish past Brad Wilson.
Literally seconds after the interval, however, all the hard work was wasted
when the home side scored twice in a matter of minutes.
But, instead of capitulating, which could well have happened given the fact
that S & L's last two results have seen them beat Kettering Town 6-1 and
Rothwell Town 8-0. Desborough fought back well and, indeed, had a number of
chances to score, but it wasn't to be.
Ben Greasley had one of his best games for the club, while Jamie Smith also
had an outstanding evening, and it was good to see new signing from
Kettering, Brad Overton, given his debut as a second half substitute.
Although everyone was naturally very disappointed afterwards, when one
considers that S & L lose all-bar two of their entire squad on duty on
Thursday for next season and Desborough lose just three of the 21 players in
attendance, it bodes well for next term.
Wednesday, April 2nd. v Cogenhoe Utd Youth
The home game against Cogenhoe United on Wednesday night was a real
`six-pointer` for the young Ar Tarn lads as the table showed only points
separating five teams in the bottom half of the division.
Desborough, already without striker Adam Dainty, who is now out for the season,
Matt Coles and Ben Greasley - all injured - had to make a last-minute adjustment
when Luke Bewers was stuck in traffic on his way back from London.
A 3-5-2 formation was decided upon and under-16 lads Levi Robinson and Brad
Overton were brought in for their full debuts.
It wasn't pretty, with the rock-hard pitch (despite Tuesday's rain!) not helping
matters, but Desborough had much the better of the first-half without managing
to break the deadlock. Indeed, goalkeeper Brad Wilson was a virtual spectator.
However, the second period saw Cogenhoe come more into the game, again, without
really troubling the keeper too much.
It looked as though a goalless draw was on the cards until, with 9 minutes
remaining, substitute Craig Misciali burst through and coolly slotted past the
visiting 'keeper for his first goal at under-18 level.
There were a number of real positives from the game. Desborough included only
one player in the 16-man squad who isn't eligible for next season (Tom Marlow),
and Levi Robinson especially had an outstanding debut and everyone was delighted
for young Craig for netting the winner.
Next up is a home game against Kettering Town next Wednesday (April 9th) - a
game many of the players (and manager!) are really looking forward to!!
Wednesday, April 9th. v Kettering Town Youth
With Ben Greasley suffering an injury whilst playing for the first-team on
Tuesday added to an injury list that also included Jamie Smith, Matt Coles
and the long-term injured Adam Dainty, the Ar Tarn youngsters were forced to
take on Kettering Town's full-timers with an extremely young side, but they
did themselves and the club proud.
Kettering included first-team striker Michael McKenzie plus Liam Carson, who
is currently playing for Corby Town's first-team, and Desborough's midfield
was entirely made up of under-16 lads with only two players in the squad,
Tom Marlow and Luke Bewers, who are not eligible for next season.
Desborough suffered an early blow when, with at least four Kettering players
standing in an offside position, the young girl assistant referee wasn't up
with play and allowed one of them to slide through to beat Brad Wilson and
put the visitors one-up.
Shortly afterwards, an inswinging corner was bundled in at the near post to
make it 2-0 and the omens didn't look good.
However, Desborough took a grip on the game and began to compete on equal
terms. Indeed, the second half saw Andy Sanders miss two presentable
chances, while Jake Cucciniello - one of a number of ex-Kettering players in
the Ar Tarn ranks - had a terrific shot brillianty turned over by the
Once again young Levi Robinson had an excellent game, as did the other
under-16 lads in midfield Ben Baines, Brad Overton and Callum Bond, while
Ashley Hustwayte did well after coming on. Ben Asher, Tom Marlow and David
Haggard held McKenzie in check and, all in all, it was extremely encouraging
for the future - a fact mirrored by comments made by a number of parents
from the visiting side in a sizeable crowd afterwards.
Wednesday, April 16th. v Long Buckby Youth
Already hit by a string of injuries and unavailabilities due to the school
holidays, the loss after only 15 minutes of skipper Ben Asher and later his
central defensive partner Tom Marlow only added to the problems on the night.
Desborough started really well and took a deserved early lead when Jamie Smith
scored his first goal of the season direct from a well-taken free-kick. However,
the loss of Asher shortly afterwards seriously disrupted the shape of the side,
although his replacement, Christian Jenkins, turned out to be arguably
Long Buckby equalised in bizarre fashion when a long cross was hooked
inadvertedly past Brad Wilson. It had to be a fluke, otherwise the Buckby should
be playing Premiership football!
The rest of the game was, in truth, instantly forgettable, apart from a couple
of reasonable chances squandered by the Ar Tarn boys and one spectacular
one-handed save by Wilson. The shortage of players on the night was mirrored by
the fact that Tom Marlow's injury late on saw reserve 'keeper Chris Hurling
having to play on the field!
Wednesday, April 23rd. v Ford Sports Youth
Skipper Ben Asher failed a fitness test ahead of the home game with Daventry
Ford Sports and joined the unavailable Luke Bewers, Levi Robinson, Chris
Hurling, Adam Toop and the injured Adam Dainty on the sidelines for what was to
prove a frustrating game for the Ar Tarn youngsters.
After starting brightly against the league newboys, Desborough were dealt a
cruel blow after barely 15 minutes when central defender David Haggard was
amazingly sent-off by the referee. Whilst no-one complained of the award of a
free-kick against Haggard, even the opposition bench was amazed when the referee
produced the red card in what I consider one of the worst decisions in my many
years as a player, coach and manager.
However, despite this set-back, Desborough continued to look lively without
threatening the visiting goal on too many occasions. Then, towards the end of
the first-half, the referee decided to even things up and dismissed a Ford
Sports player for an equally mystifying reason.
The second half began with the home side really having a go and efforts by
Andy Sanders, Jake Cucciniello, Jamie Smith and Ben Baines all went close and it
came as little surprise when Desborough took the lead when Baines headed home a
As Ford Sports had hardly had a shot in the second half, optimism was high that
a win was on the cards, until, with barely 10 minute remaining, a breakway led
to the visitors equalising with an excellent volley.
Although it was slightly disappointing not to have gained all three points, it
was even more disappointing to both sides that the game was spoilt by an
Wednesday, April 30th v Bugbrooke Youth
The usual saying is "keep the best 'till last". Well, in our case we
the WORST 'till last!
Our performance, if that's the right expression, at Bugbrooke was without
doubt the worst of the season bar none!
I left out a number of younger lads in favour if giving the older boys,
three of whom were playing their last games as under-18's, the final match
of the season, but it backfired.
Right from the outset things looked ominously bad and it only got worse!
Three-nil down at half-time and, as they say, we were lucky to get nil!
Some brief, but very sharp words were spoken at the interval, and the side
were a little better in the second period, although it would have been hard
to have been much worse!
Bugbrooke immediately made it 4-0 but the rest of the half was mainly
Desborough's, with Andy Sanders bagging a very good brace of goals, while
young Chris Hurling was handed his debut in goal along for the second half
along with Adam Toop in midfield and both did well enough.
Whilst I have been disappointed with the season as a whole, it should be
remembered that the likes of Tom Greasley, Tom Marlow and Andy Sanders have
all made regular appearances in the first-team and a number of others have
become reserve team regulars, and at the end of the day, that's what it's
We have run with a young side this season. Bugbrooke, for example, have NO
players available for next season from the side that played against us.
We badly need a goalscorer, but then so does 90 per cent of teams at all
levels! However, a fit Adam Dainty may well be the answer and both my coach
Wayne Marlow and I are very optimistic about next season in general.
In my 18 years as a youth manager I have always tried to build squads that
can last for more than one season together - moulding in younger lads
throughout the campaign. Sometimes it can have a detrimental effect on
results, but results aren't everything at youth level, it's more about
producing players for the club, and in that respect I feel we have done our