The new beginning to the EFL Trophy suffered under the voice of fans nationwide as some clubs recorded their lowest attendances to a competitive match in decades.
Despite lively on-the-field action that saw each EFL Trophy fixture average 3.4 goals, the attendance figures plummeted towards three figures, with Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium registering a crowd of 392.
The majority of clubs left only one stand open to accomodate home and away fans, which has not been uncommon in previous seasons. But with photos surfacing online of vast areas empty seats and managers making aware their frustrations of a tightly-packed fixture schedule, the EFL revamp has obstacles in its path.
Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray was less than flattering in his post-match interview following the Stags 2-0 defeat to Doncaster, telling the Chad: “I am glad it’s over. To put it politely it’s a pain in the backside.
“It was frustrating to pick up a couple of injuries in a game that I don’t get the ending to the whole thing. It’s all right for these big clubs coming in, but what people forget to think about is that it’s people’s jobs on the line when earning three points is your living.
“It’s not just turn up and have a game for an U23 team, this is people’s lives and we’ve got to go into the weekend now with knocks and bruises.”
Murray went on to admit: “I will be honest with you, when we got to 75 minutes, I was telling people to stay out of tackles and save their legs as, when you have got a small squad, you can’t risk anything.”
Just when you thought it could not get more farcical pic.twitter.com/CI95Na78h9
— James Young (@YoungyJames) August 30, 2016
Notts County manager John Sheridan remained professional and upbeat, saying: “I don’ think the inclusion of the Premier League teams make it inferior.
“We’ll be going to Sunderland which, for the players, will be a good occasion for them.
“All the teams will be wanting to get through and make it to the final.
“I would never disrespect it in anyway. We have to take it seriously.”
Other headlines were created from Tuesday night’s fixtures as Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth brought himself off the sub’s bench to make a first professional appearance since April 2013, while Exeter boss Paul Tisdale swapped the loafers for football boots to name himself as a substitute for the Grecians at the experienced age of 43.
The EFL have courted controversy for restructuring the competition under a proposal backed by 60% of member clubs, but that will not matter to Luton Town youngster Connor Tomlinson who made his professional debut at the tender age of 15 years and 199 days when coming off the bench to break the Hatters record.
The same can be said of Bury academy player Emeka Obi, 15, who replaced Danny Mayor with five minutes remaining of the Shakers match versus Morecambe.
— Thomas Feaheny (@ThomasFeaheny) August 30, 2016