Town dev 1-1 AFC Wimbledon dev
A superb goal from Jim Stevenson earned the Hatters dev squad a point to preserve their unbeaten record in the Final Third Development League.
The midfielder struck a stunning effort from 30 yards with 13 minutes left to pull the Town level after they had trailed to a 10th-minute header from Wimbledon forward George Oakley.
First team coach Hakan Hayrettin gave starts to Danny Fitzsimons, Alex Lacey, Paul Connolly, Luke Rooney, Ricky Miller and Matthew Robinson – the latter back from a successful loan spell at Kidderminster.
Australian striker Matt Fletcher was given a start as a trialist but he was withdrawn after a facial injury on seven minutes.
And three minutes later the Town found themselves behind when Callum Kennedy’s left-wing cross was nodded home by Oakley from close range.
The Hatters came close to levelling almost immediately when Rooney’s free-kick was parried by the Dons goalkeeper and both Robinson and Lacey saw follow-up efforts blocked in the six-yard box.
Both sides traded half-chances as the first half wore on with Ruddock going closest with a first-time volley on the half-hour following James Justin’s right-wing cross. Elliot Justham then kept out two efforts from Kennedy.
Shortly before the break Rooney and Ruddock combined that saw the latter have a shot blocked before Fitzsimons headed wide from the resultant corner.
After the interval Kevin Sainte-Luce missed a great chance to put Wimbledon 2-0 up – only for him to side-foot straight at Justham on 48 minutes.
But the Town were then denied an equaliser two minutes later when Rooney saw a shot saved and Miller’s follow-up was cleared off the line.
As the Hatters upped the ante, visiting goalkeeper Joe McDonnell pulled off a breathtaking save to deny Stevenson’s close range header, before Justham kept out a stinging close range effort from Kennedy.
On 66 minutes nimble footwork from Rooney opened up a chance for Miller who had a shot blocked and on 76 minutes more great individual play from Rooney saw the midfielder hit the post with a close range shot.
But the Town did find the equaliser a minute later when Stevenson chested the ball down 30 yards from goal and as the ball sat up perfectly to hit, the ball arched over the back-pedalling McDonnell and into the net.
Now the Hatters sensed a winner. Rooney had a shot blocked, Lacey saw a header cleared off the line from a corner, before Miller, on the stretch, from a Lacey pass flicked an effort over.
In injury time substitute Leeroy Maguraushe saw a shot stopped by McDonnell before Miller missed the final chance, firing over the crossbar having been played through on goal by Lacey’s pass.
The draw maintains the Town's unbeaten record in the dev squad this season - a run now stretching seven matches.
Town: Justham; Robinson, Fitzsimons, Lacey, Connolly; Ruddock Mpanzu (sub Magauraushe 66), Stevenson, Rees, Rooney; Fletcher (sub Justin 7), Miller. Subs not used: King, Hawkes, Ngwala.