Thank God that’s over for another year. United’s run in the Papa John’s/Checkatrade/LDV/Auto Windscreens Trophy or whatever it’s going by this week is over following a defeat at Oxford.
Jubril Okedina made his debut at right-back, and there was a new look centre back pairing of Harry Darling and Robbie Cundy as well as a new look striking duo of Knibbs and Ironside. Callum Burton got the nod in goal. On the bench, Liam O’Neil was a welcome addition after his injury earlier in the season.
The Papa John’s is always going to divide opinion, there are those who treat it with the same level of disdain as a Tory MP putting half a carrot into a schoolchild’s food package, those that think it’s a pre-cursor to B-Teams in the Football League (ignoring the fact the League can barely support 92 teams as it is), and those who think it’s a small distraction, made better by the fact there’s a bit of money involved for winning plus a trip to Wembley. Us? We’re somewhere in-between, it’s undoubtably a competition that’s struggling to prove its relevance and the addition of U23 teams from some of the bigger clubs isn’t really an experiment that’s working. The added fact that the EFL essentially ‘rig’ the draw to ensure each group pairs off two rival teams in an attempt to create some interest is just as misguided, especially as they force the EFL teams to take it seriously and play a team broadly similar to the one they played in their last league game. On the other hand, in it’s pre B-team guise the competition has provided the U’s with some memorable games (Bristol City & Brentford, anyone?) as well as a route to Wembley and some useful income. We can only hope the EFL eventually see sense and drop this ridiculous format and return it to a knockout competition exclusively for League One & Two teams.
Anyway, you can watch the highlights on YouTube if you’re that way inclined, frankly we’re not that bothered. Time to concentrate on the League.
Man of the Match: Probably Digby? It was nice to see Liam O’Neil back for ten minutes too.
Soundtrack of the Match: James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
United: Burton, Okedina, Cundy, Darling, Iredale, Davies (Knoyle), Digby, May (O’Neil), Hannant (Dunk), Knibbs (Worman), Ironside (Dallas)