Arsenal loanee Brooke Norton-Cuffy faced the first real personal setback of his senior career on Saturday, picking up a red card.
For the most part, Brooke Norton-Cuffy has had an ideal start to life in senior football with Lincoln City. He quickly broke into their starting lineup on loan, he won their fans over without any problem, and he even scored his first goal last week.
Yet football is inevitably a game of ups and downs, and Norton-Cuffy had to deal with his first senior red card on Saturday.
The sending-off was certainly harsh. With Lincoln 1-0 up, Norton-Cuffy chased down a ball with AFC Wimbledon left-back Lee Brown, and he successfully won the individual duel to shield the ball out of play.
In frustration (or perhaps to bait his opponent), Brown attempted to trip Norton-Cuffy and pulled his shirt.
The Arsenal loanee responded with a two-handed shove, and the two players then put their heads together. You can watch the incident from 1:16 in the highlight package here.
The referee deemed that a red-card offence for Norton-Cuffy, but only a yellow card for Brown. The one positive for the Arsenal youngster is that Lincoln went on to win 2-0.
The biggest downside is that a straight red for violent conduct means a three-game suspension. Assuming the red isn’t overturned, Norton-Cuffy won’t play again until April.
The red is also Norton-Cuffy’s third of the season if you include youth games, but that makes it sound a lot worse than it is.
The right-back’s sending-off for the Arsenal u23s was for handball, and his red card with the England u18s was a second yellow in the 96th minute.
In general, the 18-year-old doesn’t have disciplinary issues. But learning how to handle these sorts of incidents is another key step in a player’s development.
You’d hope Norton-Cuffy will be better off for it, and the whole point of a loan move is for him to learn these lessons in matches that don’t affect Arsenal.