DAN THE FAN: Unearthing hidden gems will be crucial

TUESDAY night’s 3-1 penalty shootout win over Stevenage was the second time in three seasons Town have reached the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Final.

Ty Belford picked up the headlines after a number of good saves in the shootout.

With rumours of Wes Foderingham’s exit in January, the former Liverpool shot stopper might become an integral part of the club as we push for promotion.

Town’s newest recruit midfielder Ben Gladwin made his debut after joining from Marlow in late November.

He made a good impression after coming on as a substitute with 20 minutes left.

It will take time for him to get used to the change of ability around him, but all the signs are good that once again Town’s scouting network around the lower leagues has pulled off another good deal.

Town’s history with players making the successful jump up from non-league to the Football League has enjoyed mixed results.

In the past 15 seasons, the club has signed 15 players from non-league clubs – not including Samsung pro contract winners – with Raphael Rossi Branco and Gladwin joining this season.

It started with the signing of local prolific goalscorer Charlie Griffin from Chippenham Town for around £10,000 in January 1999.

He didn’t make a massive impression at Town but built a successful career for himself and is now plying his trade at Brackley Town.

Players such as Daren Dykes, Ben Martin, Chris Blackburn and Mark Marshall arrived, but found themselves being guided towards the exit pretty sharpish.

Town’s success in this market has come in recent years with Charlie Austin, Aden Flint, Alan Connell and Jonathan Smith all playing a part at the club.

With Town not being able to splash the cash on players, talent in the lower leagues is essential, I’m sure Gladwin won’t be the last non-league player to arrive under new owner Lee Power’s stewardship.

On Monday, Lee Power addressed the fans in a phone-in on local radio and did a great job in explaining his vision of the club, clearing up any misconceptions people might have about him.

A few key points stood out, one of which being another ‘big’ Premier League club has contacted him and is interested in sending Town some of their young talent.

Spurs value Alex Pritchard at around £1 million and with Town not having that sort of money handy, it looks very likely he will be leaving the club in January.

Peterborough have had interest and bids for Nicky Ajose, and with Posh looking to sell the striker, instead of another loan move, he’s another player we will be losing in January.

Losing them will be a big blow, but if Power can do deals with other clubs and replace them with some more exciting young talent, the damage will be limited.

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