Under-18s downed by Danes in Sweden
The Town Under-18s fell to a 1-0 defeat to Danish side Esbjerg in their second fixture in the Gothia Cup.
The Hatters best chances fell in the first half. Jemale McKenzie Lowe saw a shot rebound off of the goalkeeper’s knees before Osamu Allman and Charlie Smith both went close.
Esbjerg had rarely threatened in the opening period but it was the Danes that went ahead in the final minute of the half when the Town failed to clear a corner and the ball was scrambled home.
Their lead was nearly extended in the second minute after the restart but a fine save by goalkeeper Ben Barnes pushed the ball onto the post and Brett Longden was quickest to react to clear the ball off of the line.
This turned out to be the last chance for Ebsjerg as the Hatters upped their game, increasing the pressure on their opponents and delivering a number of balls into the box, but a Zak Stephens header which went just wide proved to be the closest they came to an equaliser.
Despite forcing a number of corners in the closing stages an equaliser was not forthcoming and the Danes held out to record their second successive victory.
Boss Paul Driver told lutontown.co.uk: “We were very slow out of the blocks against a strong opposition. We allowed them too much comfortable possession in midfield, although the defence marshalled well by Zak Stephens did a good job of denying them any shots on goal.
“Frustratingly, we had nearly made it to half-time to re-group when we let them score from a corner through poor marking and not closing the second ball.
“In the second half, we were much better. Arel Amu stopped them getting out from the back and allowed us to got much tighter in midfield. We were the stronger team for the final 25 minutes and could have come away with the point the overall game warranted.
“Now we have to re-group against another very decent outfit who we watched beat Gothenburg 2-1 and look to win and hope the other results are kind to us for us to progress to the next stage.”
Team: Barnes, Stanley, Jibodu, Maguraushe, Chabata, Stephens, Rees, Smith (sub Walters), Banton (sub Amu), Allmann, McKenzie-Lowe (sub Banton).
The Hatters play Swedish side Brommapojkarna at 4pm (Swedish time) for a place in the knockout stages.