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6 December 2016

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McQuoid at the double as Hatters make Checkatrade progress

Norris 6
Iandolo 63

McQuoid 8, 19
Vassell 69

Att: 1,692 (134 Hatters)

Nathan Jones’ young Hatters made further progress in the Checkatrade Trophy tonight, registering a fourth win over higher-level opposition this season with a 3-2 victory over Sky Bet League One side Swindon Town at the County Ground.

Josh McQuoid netted his first goals of the season – a pair of them – and Isaac Vassell the winner as the Town recovered from conceding an early goal to deservedly win an entertaining game in Wiltshire. 

The Hatters started on the front foot, and captain Jonathan Smith, on his return to his former club, had the first effort on goal, but his 25 yard shot sailed over the bar. 

Within a minute, the hosts had the lead with a fine through ball between James Justin and Frankie Musonda being stroked into the net from 12 yards by Luke Norris.

The Town were level within two minutes, however, with Swindon keeper Will Henry unable to hold onto a curling shot from Vassell, leaving McQuoid with the simple task of tapping into an empty net from inside the six-yard box.

Craig King was soon called into action to keep out Nathan Delfouneso, but the Hatters had a flurry of chances that ended in them taking the lead in the 19th minute.

First Vassell spurned a great chance from a left-wing cross from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, then Dan Potts got on the end of a centre from Jack Senior, but couldn’t direct his effort past Henry.

Seconds later, however, home debutant Rhys Sharpe gave the ball away to the left of his own penalty area and McQuoid took full advantage, shifting the ball onto his right foot and curling a beauty past Henry from 15 yards to give the Town a deserved lead with his second goal.

Vassell burst down the left again two minutes later and stung the palms of Henry with a thunderous shot from a tight angle, before captain Smith put in a terrific cross from the right that was just too high for McQuoid, who was sniffing a quickfire hat-trick.

The Hatters front two were proving a real handful in an open, entertaining match, and Vassell was put through once more by a delightful through ball from Jake Gray just after the half-hour, but the striker’s clip over the advancing Henry drifted inches wide.

Potts and Jack Senior had produced great blocks to deny John Goddard and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, then Frankie Musonda got enough of a block on Delfouneso’s shot to divert the ball for a corner as the hosts threatened a comeback.

Next to have a go for the Hatters in the 38th-minute was Mpanzu, but Henry got his body safely behind the midfielder’s 25 yarder after Vassell and Smith combined to set him up on the left of the diamond.

Two minutes before the break, McQuoid priced some terrific instant control of a long ball, then tried to pick out Gray at the far post, but his skidding low cross proved just too strong for the sliding ex-Crystal Palace midfielder.

Swindon made three changes at the break, but not surprisingly Hatters boss Jones stuck with the 11 who had got the Town into a commanding position.

Within two minutes of the restart, there was another attempt at goal – this time from Olly Lee, although his shot at the end of a short corner routine flew over the bar.

Vassell soon rose inside the six-yard box to meet a cross from Justin, but another golden opportunity to increase the lead went begging.

Smith tried his luck from 25 yards, but his dipping 53rd-minute volley was just off target, just before Vassell fashioned another chance for himself, cutting across the box from the left, but his 20-yard shot was too high.

Swindon’s man threat, Delfouneso, chanced his arm from 20 yards just before the hour, but the ex-Aston Villa striker’s shot flew high over the Town bar. 

It was a different story in the 63rd minute, however, when Ellis Iandolo – one of the three half-time subs – fired a beauty past King from a similar distance.

Their tails up, Swindon were having a go from all angles with Goddard and Jermaine Hylton, another of the replacements, firing off target in quick succession.

But the Hatters were back in front by the 69th minute, when Vassell finally got the goal his performance deserved, racing down the right, cutting inside his man and slotting past Henry with his left-foot for 3-2. 

The Robins weren’t prepared to lie down, and Goddard went close with another shot from outside the box within a minute, but the Hatters were looking just as likely to increase their lead.

McQuoid wouldn’t be completing his treble, subbed for Craig Mackail-Smith on 74 minutes, but Smith soon had the ball in his old club’s net, although referee Roger East already had the whistle in his mouth for a handball as the skipper controlled the ball that had looped high in the air as a shot from Lee was blocked.

Tyreeq Bakinson was soon introduced for Gray to bolster the midfield as the Town saw the game out with composure and authority, and without further threat from Swindon, to progress into the third round.

The draw – which is not regionalised or seeded – will take place live on Sky Sports News at 11.30am on Thursday, with ties due to be played on Tuesday 10th January.

TOWN: King, Justin, Musonda, Potts, Senior, Lee, Mpanzu, Smith, Gray (Bakinson 85), Vassell, McQuoid (Mackail-Smith 74). Subs: Gooch, Banton, Cotter, Snelus, Tomlinson
Yellows: McQuoid

SWINDON: Henry, Ormonde-Ottewill (Iandolo 46), Thomas, Rodgers (Young 46), Goddard, Sharpe, Evans, Furlong, Murray, Delfouneso, Norris (Hylton 46). Subs: Ouldridge, Gunner, Twine, Vigouroux (GK)

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