James Olayinka won the man-of-the-match award for Northampton Town on his debut, as they won 3-0 against Scunthorpe United on Tuesday.

James Olayinka on his loan debut for Northampton Town (Photo via ntfc.co.uk)
James Olayinka on his loan debut for Northampton Town (Photo via ntfc.co.uk)

Olayinka only joined Northampton Town on Monday, but he was straight into the action with a start the next day. He was quickly involved in a goal, playing the pass before the assist to make it 1-0 within seven minutes.

Playing in midfield, Olayinka got very involved in the physical side of the game. He won nine of his 11 individual duels, and he earned three free-kicks for his side. Defensively, he made five tackles and an interception, displaying his work-rate.

Northampton won 3-0 in the end, and Olayinka’s efforts won him their man-of-the-match award.

Speaking after the game, the Arsenal youngster admitted he’s happy with the start he made with the team.

“I was pleased to make my debut, but most importantly we got the win to keep the good run going,” Olayinka said.

“Hopefully, we can continue to build. Everyone has been really welcoming over the last couple of days and I’m just going to continue to work hard for the team.”

Manager Keith Curle also thinks Olayinka is going to have a positive impact with the team.

“James Olayinka is a good player,” Curle said. “We spent some time with him in training and we have had to get our way of playing into his system.

“We want him landing on the second balls high up the pitch and using his energy to hurt teams. Alex the analyst has spent time working with him, showing him where we need him to be.”

How did Olayinka do in the first half of the season with Arsenal?

James Olayinka with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Twitter)
James Olayinka with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Twitter)

After his impressive performances with the first team in pre-season, things didn’t exactly go to plan for Olayinka.

Unfortunately, he had injury problems in the early months of the campaign, only playing two games before the 5th of November. Funnily enough, one of those two games was the Northampton match, when he scored Arsenal’s goal.

Eventually, he returned to the pitch again, featuring in a penalty shootout win over Cambridge United.

After that, he quickly regained his starting spot in the u23 team and found a rich vein of form. He left Arsenal having scored three goals and assisted one in his last four games, probably the best run he’s had in the team.

Olayinka’s workrate is always good, and he doesn’t seem too daunted by the prospect of playing with or against senior players. He made Arsenal’s senior squad against Standard Liege in December but didn’t come off the bench.

He needed a loan though, both for his fitness and to push on to the next level. U23 football is neither competitive nor regular enough for him right now.