Youngsters put pressure on leaders
The Hatters came away from two tough away fixtures with four points in the past week - at second placed Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday and sixth-placed Aldershot on Saturday to maintain the pressure on Watford and Leyton Orient at the top of the table.
Manager Paul Driver, named the same start line up for both games with Under 16s Luke Trottman and Zak Jules replacing (the injured) Arel Amu and Lee Hawkes.
In the first game, played at the main Dagenham & Redbridge Stadium, a disjointed first half ended 0-0 with the hosts having more pressure forcing a number of corners which the Hatters dealt well with. Early in the second half, a lob from inside the box by Trottman was handled by a Dagenham defender and a penalty was awarded on the linesman's flag. Charlie Smith made no mistake, sending the home keeper the wrong way.
The goal saw an improvement in the quality of the play by the Hatters and the lead was increased in the 76th minute following an excellent move. Brett Longden broke down a Dagenham attack and found Ian Rees who fed Smith and his link up with Jemale McKenzie-Lowe to sent the striker into the box. His cross/shot went across the six yard box and was stabbed home from close range by Zane Banton.
Dagenham had a number of corners and shots from range as they looked to get back into the game but the Hatters held firm to record a 2-0 victory.
A trip to Surrey Sports Park to play 6th place Aldershot followed on the Saturday for the Hatters and they took the lead midway through the first half when Brett Longden's pass found Zane Banton in space and he finished his chance well. Leeroy Magaraushe combined well with Jerome Jibodu and burst in the area ten minutes later but his shot just eluded the far post and went to safety to deny the Hatters a chance to double the lead so the teams went into half time with the score at 1-0.
Aldershot came out firing in the second half and, after spurning an easy chance, levelled the score up in the 61st minute with a strike from 12 yards.
The equaliser sparked the Hatters back into life and they created by far the better chances throughout the remainder of the match with two goals being disallowed - first a header from a free kick from Chabata was ruled out for a push and then Banton broke through to finish well but was adjuged offisde. McKenzie-Lowe shot wide from inside the box and a last minute scramble saw the home keeper deny Luke Trottman and Tuki Tayali a late winner.
Paul Driver told lutontown.co.uk: "Four points from the two matches is a good return for us. We were probably better as a team in the Aldershot game where we drew than the Dagenham game where we got the three points despite being below par from recent performances but that's how things go sometimes.
"We lost the first two games of the season against Orient and Dagenham so to go to their place in the return games and, deservedly, get a win and a draw against teams, at the time, above us and in the top three shows the boys are progressing well and the Under 16s that have come into the side have all done very well so we are really positive about the squad going forward."