The Town lose 1-0 in Hertfordshire heatwave
Boreham Wood 1
Luton Town 0
On the hottest day of the year so far, the Hatters were beaten 1-0 by Vanarama National League hosts Boreham Wood at Meadow Park.
Manager Nathan Jones used 22 players as pre-season stepped up a level in the Hertfordshire heat, including a senior debut for youth team left-back Cameron McJannett as a second-half substitute.
The game was only 15 seconds old when Danny Hylton had the Hatters' first attempt on target, attempting to lob Grant Smith in the home goal after Cameron McGeehan hooked the ball on.
Town enjoyed most of the early possession, and made inroads to the home defence when Hylton burst into the box but his cut back was behind strike partner Josh McQuoid.
The hosts came into things and shortly after Johnny Mullins had been forced to head Bruno Andrade’s inviting free-kick behind, they had the lead.
Adriano Moke, the former York midfielder, deceived Jordan Cook with a tidy piece of skill midway inside his own half and clipped a ball over the head of Mullins for Kudus Oyenuga to lob past Christian Walton into the Hatters' net.
The Town response was good. McGeehan picked the ball up on the edge of his own box, carried it deep into Wood territory and exchanged passes with Stephen O'Donnell before shooting on target, forcing Smith into a good save.
Fine link play on the edge of the box between Hylton and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu put the former into the box, but the ex-Oxford man was strong-armed off the ball by Wood defender Dave Stephens.
Then another intricate piece of passing around the area between Potts, Cook, Hylton and finally Mpanzu leads to the central midfielder firing narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Walton was forced into action once again to tip over Andrade's looping cross, then had to gather Stephens' header safely at the far post and get his body behind Conor Clifford’s 25-yarder as the hosts went looking for a second goal.
The Town went straight up the other end and won a free-kick when Hylton was fouled, but captain Alan Sheehan's 20-yard curling effort was comfortably held by home keeper Smith.
Sheehan was soon having to show a cool head at the other end to nod back to Walton when under pressure from goalscorer Oyenuga, but it was the Hatters who ended the half in the ascendancy.
A lovely piece of skill in the middle of the park from Hylton created room for him to feed O’Donnell down the right, and his cross made its way to McGeehan, whose shot was deflected behind.
Two minutes into time added on, home keeper Smith punched the resulting corner clear, only as far as Cook who rifled in a volley that went well wide.
Jones made just one change for the start of the second half, with new pro Akin Famewo coming on at left-back for Potts, who had gone down just before the break.
The Town started positively, Mpanzu making ground on the right flank and rolling the ball inside to McQuoid, who was fouled by Uchechi just outside the area. McGeehan's low free-kick couldn’t beat the wall, however, and ricocheted harmlessly wide.
On 51 minutes, McQuoid was involved again in creating a chance for McGeehan, who made space for himself to fire in a low effort that home keeper Smith tipped wide at full stretch.
Jones, who resisted changing the entire outfield team at half-time as he did at Bedford on Saturday, had done so – with the exception of McQuoid – by the 63rd minute.
Youth team left-back McJannett wasted little time making an immediate impression, delivering a fine cross from the left that McQuoid headed over, then Zane Banton cut inside from the left and had Smith diving low to his right to push his shot behind.
In the 70th minute, Wood sub Angelo Balanta fired a warning to the Hatters, flashing a shot across replacement keeper Liam Gooch's goal, and four minutes later, Jones completed the substitutions with Alex Atkinson brought on for McQuoid.
The young Town line-up enjoyed the better of the closing stages, with Tyreeq Bakinson coming close to threading Isaac Vassell – the ex-Plymouth striker playing his second game on trial after leaving Truro City – into the box.
That one was intercepted, but Vassell soon wriggled free in the area to try to feed Banton, although the Wood defence were once again on their toes.
On at right-back, James Justin – impressive at Bedford in the first half on Saturday – was calmness personified in chesting a far post cross safely into Gooch’s arms inside the six-yard box.
Indeed, the Hatters’ back four that finished the game was the double-winning youth team defence from last season, and although Frankie Musonda was booked late on after having a running battle with Wood striker Shaun Jeffers, they looked solid with Gooch equal to another Balanta effort with a flying save in the final seconds.
Town starting line-up: Walton (Gooch 63), O'Donnell (Justin 63), Mullins (Musonda 63), Sheehan (McJannett 63), Potts (Famewo 46), Rea (Lee 57), Mpanzu (Lee 57), McGeehan (Bakinson 63), Cook (Banton 63), McQuoid (Atkinson 74), Hylton (Vassell 57).