Hatters lose to odd goal in five
The Town Under-18s went down in a five-goal thriller in their first return to action after the Christmas break.
The Hatters switched their game with the MK Dons to Milton Keynes on Saturday with Ely Way unfit for play and both teams desperate to get their players some competitive football after the break.
Both teams had younger line ups with players from each involved in their respective first team fixtures - the Hatters were without Jerome Jibodu (who started in the FA Trophy game against Skelmersdale) plus Brett Longden, Charlie Smith and Jemale McKenzie-Lowe (who were all in the squad for the Trophy game).
The Hatters were ahead after just 35 seconds when Leeroy Maguaraushe got the ball in midfield and ran at the MK defence hitting a 25-yard drive into the bottom corner of the net. Further chances came in an excellent opening with Jordan Davis, Luke Trottman and Zac Jules all missing great opportunities to extend the lead.
As often happens, missing those chances came back to haunt the Hatters and on 19 minutes the Dons pulled the scores level from a quickly taken corner.
The Hatters continued to have the better of the chances for the remainder of the half and a great cross from Trottman eluded everyone in the box and good forward runs by Zane Banton and Arel Amu saw the strikers just offside when through on goal.
The second half followed the same trend as the first with MK having more of the possession and the Hatters having more of the chances to regain the lead. The best fell to Banton and Amu who got in each others' way and Maguraushe had an effort blocked.
It was MK who took the lead, though, in the 65th minute from a flowing move and finish from just inside the box and the lead was extended further in the 80th minute when a Ben Barnes clearance hit their striker and and looped over the keeper into the net.
Undeterred, the Hatters continued to press and pulled a goal back when substitute Adrian Pittfield, on for Trottman, headed a precise cross into the net at the back post in the 88th minute.
More chances followed from a central free kick and corner in injury time but the Hatters were unable to conjure the equaliser that their endeavours warranted at the very least.
Boss Paul Driver said: "We really needed the run out after the extended break so it was good of the Dons to switch to their place.
“Ultimately, the failure to take so many guilt-edged chances will always hurt you at any level and this was the story today where we have lost a game we could have won by a few clear goals if we'd have finished better.
“It was a different side to the one prior to Christmas with the lads up in the first team but we dealt really well with their passing and movement - other than for their second goal - and attacked quickly and at pace and got some good early crosses in so I'm relatively pleased with the days' work.
“The biggest boost from the day was the inclusion of the four lads in the Trophy squad and, in particular, Jerome's first team debut and he did well, I thought.”
Town: Barnes, Burtenshaw, Davison (sub Hawkes), Rees, Chabata, Jules, Trottman (sub Pittfield), Maguaraushe, Amu (Tayali) , Banton, Davis. Subs Not Used. Carpenter, Grant.