Town Under-18s lose out in five-goal thriller
The Town Under-18s conceded a late goal to go down 3-2 to Stevenage on Saturday.
The Hatters made an excellent start to the first half where they created a number of chances and took the lead in the fourth minute when Brett Longden was upended in the box and Charlie Smith despatched the penalty.
Good efforts by Jemale McKenzie-Lowe, Arel Amu and Ian Rees continued the strong start but, having failed to take the chances, Stevenage drew level on 16 minutes following a neat move and smart finish from 15 yards.
Undeterred, the Hatters continued to play well going forward and the lead was restored on 26 minutes when Amu cut in from wide and his shot was not held by the Stevenage keeper and Smith on hand to stab the ball home from close range.
Smith's corner deliveries were causing problems for the home defence and Ryan DeBattista had a header cleared off of the line from one in the 32nd minute in what proved to be the best chance for either side in the remainder of the half.
Stevenage started the second half the stronger after making a couple of changes to personnel and got an equaliser in the 52nd minute from a corner of their own which wasn't fully cleared and a strike from the edge of the box sneaked inside Josh Carpenter's post.
Both sides continued to be positive in their approach and each had chances to gain the lead with another Smith corner being cleared from the line when a goal seemed certain.
As in the previous encounter between the sides in September, the last 15 minutes were lively and full of incident. The first saw Stevenage take the lead for the first time on 85 minutes when the ball wasn't cleared and a slip at the back allowed the hosts striker to poke the ball home.
Zane Banton then had two great chances with the first being blocked and the second getting tipped onto the post by the keeper and two more corners caused problems for the opposition but the Hatters couldn’t get the equaliser that their performance warranted.
Boss Paul Driver told lutontown.co.uk: "I thought we were excellent going forward and, although we won here a few weeks back, we got lucky in all honesty because they were way better than us that day and we nicked it at the end.
“This time, we were much more in the game - especially in the first half and towards the end - and it shows we are moving in the right direction. Once we get Zak Stephens back to strengthen the defence, we'll be much stronger at the back too.”
Luton Team: Carpenter, Longden, Jibodu (c), Rees, Chabata, DeBattista, Davis, Burtenshaw (Banton 70), McKenzie-Lowe (Ngwala 80), Smith, Amu. Subs Not Used: Barnes (GK), Galliford, Stanley.