Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu got 90 minutes under his belt as the Hatters development squad made it two wins out of two in the Final Third Development League Cup thanks to a 1-0 victory at Southend on Tuesday afternoon.
Ruddock’s last appearance for the Town first team came in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Leyton Orient at the end of the August, but a niggling back problem has kept the former West Ham midfielder sidelined.
After beating AFC Wimbledon 3-0 two weeks ago in the same competition, a much younger dev squad saw off the Shrimpers thanks to a first-half goal from youth team midfielder Alex Atkinson. Atkinson raced onto Ruddock’s pass to coolly slot behind the Southend goalkeeper.
The Town controlled the first half against a much stronger and older Southend side but it was a different story after the break as the home side searched for an equaliser.
But the Shrimpers couldn’t test Elliot Justham or his replacement Liam Gooch and the Hatters held on to secure a victory to the delight of academy and development manager Andy Awford.
He told lutontown.co.uk: “It was a good result and a good performance from us. It was a much younger side that we have fielded in previous weeks with the first team involved at Gillingham, while Southend have a set Under-21 squad with some experienced players.
“We dominated the first half and could have scored a couple of more goals but Alex took his goal really well on the half-hour mark on the counter-attack.
“In the second period we came under a lot of pressure but we stood up to it really well. In the closing stages I thought we managed the game well. A number of the younger players will learn from an experience like this because we wanted to win and to do that we needed to be disciplined.
“It is vital for our younger players to learn this aspect of the game. When you’re leading away from home with 10 minutes to go it’s important to focus and manage the game.
“It’s a good learning curve for all of the lads and what pleased me most was the way they all took on what we told them before the game.
“Pelly got 90 minutes under his belt which is great for him, but it was important we got minutes into a number of the youth lads and young pros because in previous development games we’ve chosen from a more experienced group.”
Next Tuesday the Hatters dev squad entertain AFC Dunstable in the Beds Senior Cup at Kenilworth Road.
Town dev: Justham (sub Gooch 75), Trotman, Onyemah, Justin, Williams, Musonda, Cotter (sub Bakinson 65), Robinson, Atkinson (sub Famewo 80), Verney (sub Hinds 65), Ruddock (sub McGhan-George 90).