Canaries spread wings
David Cuffley The Norwich City connection is working overtime for Luton Town in their bid for Football League survival - and perhaps even a place at Wembley.Ex-Canary Rossi Jarvis was handed the captain's armband by manager Mick Harford for the Hatters' midweek Johnstone's Paint Trophy second round tie at home to Brentford, scoring the winning penalty in the shoot-out that followed a 2-2 draw.
The Norwich City connection is working overtime for Luton Town in their bid for Football League survival - and perhaps even a place at Wembley.
Ex-Canary Rossi Jarvis was handed the captain's armband by manager Mick Harford for the Hatters' midweek Johnstone's Paint Trophy second round tie at home to Brentford, scoring the winning penalty in the shoot-out that followed a 2-2 draw.
Jarvis, on-loan pair Chris Martin and Michael Spillane, plus ex-City striker Paul McVeigh have all had key roles to play in a nerve-jangling week for the Hatters.
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The 19-year-old Spillane was villain then hero of last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bradford City when he headed an equaliser four minutes from time to atone for the mistake that handed the Bantams a late lead in the League Two fixture.
But more drama was to come on Tuesday night at Kenilworth Road when 19-year-old Martin's two goals brought Luton back from 2-0 down against the Bees to force a penalty shoot-out, which they won 4-3.
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McVeigh and Martin both scored their penalties before 20-year-old midfielder Jarvis tucked away the decisive spot-kick to book his side a place in today's area quarter-final draw, in a competition that leads to a Wembley final on April 5.
Jarvis, who signed a two-year deal with the Hatters in the summer when he was released by the Canaries after just 11 first team games, admitted that his elevation to skipper in the absence of club captain Kevin Nicholls and Keith Keane had come out of the blue, just one hour before the game, but now he has a taste for the job.
He said: “It was a shock for me, but good experience and I hope I did a good enough job to be considered for the role in future.
“To be honest we should have won the game in normal time. We shouldn't have been 2-0 down in the first place. It was a good performance, Chris scored two good goals and we're delighted to be through to the next stage.”
Jarvis believes that he, Martin and Spillane have all benefited from something they didn't get at Carrow Road last season - regular first team football.
He said: “I enjoyed my time at Norwich but I didn't get a fair crack of the whip. All I needed was to be playing week in, week out, and the manager has shown faith in me.
“It's going well for all of us. Paul being here helped me settle in when I first came here and then the two of us were able to do the same for the two lads when they arrived on loan.
“It's been good for both their careers. They were not getting a chance at Norwich, but the gaffer here has shown faith enough to give them a chance and they have proved they are decent players.
“Michael has been superb since he came here. He had one mishap at Bradford last week but he put it right very quickly by scoring in the last five minutes. He needed to play regular football.”
Martin, too, has earned some good reports and scored four times so far.
“Chris has been excellent. He has had to play up front on his own in the last couple of games but he's scoring goals and doing well for the team,” said Jarvis.
Defender Spillane's late leveller at Valley Parade, his second goal for the Hatters, chalked off another point as League Two's bottom side attempt to wipe out the 30-point penalty with which they started the season. Before today's home match against Darlington, Luton were still on minus 18 points.
But Jarvis backs the Hatters to pull off the mammoth task of wiping out the deficit and gathering enough points to survive.
He said: “I believe we definitely have enough in the squad to get out of the trouble we are in.
“I've got a two-year deal and I want to be playing in the Football League with Luton next season.
“It's a decent club, a well-known club, but we've been given this points penalty after being in administration.”
Jarvis believes there is plenty of young talent in the Luton squad if they can hang on this season.
“It's a very young side. Apart from the goalkeeper, who's 22, and two players who are 26 and 25, I think everyone who played against Brentford was 21 or under, but it bodes well for the future of the club,” he said.
While Luton's attempt to pull off a survival miracle is by far the number one priority, the possibility of a Wembley appearance is another dream target for clubs in Leagues One and Two competing in the Trophy.
“To play at Wembley would be wonderful for this club and for me personally,” said Jarvis, ready to tune into today's draw.
City boss Glenn Roeder, meanwhile, gets regular reports on the progress of Martin and Spillane at Luton after sending them out on season-long deals.
He said: “We've had some good reports and some just OK reports. It's a little bit up and down but the main thing is they're playing first team football, though there is a big difference between the Championship and League Two. We'll review that towards the end of the season.”