Hatters are held by National League Cards
Luton Town 1
McQuoid (pen) 25
The Hatters were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Woking this evening after Josh McQuoid had fired them in front from the penalty spot, but the young side selected by manager Nathan Jones gave an excellent account of themselves against National League opposition.
Jones made 11 changes to the team that started Saturday’s win over Brighton, giving a starting berth to eight of the players who finished that 2-1 win.
Captain Scott Cuthbert was give his first start of pre-season after nursing a hamstring strain through the first three weeks, having his return to action as a second half substitute in the win over Brighton on Saturday.
The Scot had three of last season’s youth team alongside him at the back, with Frankie Musonda at right-back, Akin Famewo at centre-half and Cameron McJannett at left-back. Craig King was in goal.
In midfield Glen Rea lined up in the holding role up with Zane Banton and Tyreeq Bakinson either side of him and Jordan Cook at the tip of the diamond, with recent signing Isaac Vassell – back after missing Saturday’s match feeling unwell – partnering McQuoid up front.
Woking had the first attempt on goal, Gozi Ugwu’s header going inches over, before the Town registered their first effort – McQuoid and Cook linking up well on the left and the latter playing the ball inside to Vassell, who swivelled inside the area and shot low, bringing a fine save out of Michael Poke.
The hosts enjoyed plenty of possession, but it was the Hatters who were troubling the target – Cook firing in a 20-yarder just after the quarter-hour mark following a crisp passing move involving Banton, Rea and Bakinson, although Poke’s save was comfortable.
Bakinson was becoming more and more influential and the leggy teenage midfielder soon registered two efforts on goal in as many minutes, the first a looping header from Musonda’s deep cross from the right, and the second an early left-footed shot that went high and handsome into the stand.
Woking centre-half Joey Jones headed just over moments before the Hatters had their 25th-minute breakthrough. Cook once again fed McQuoid, who was too quick for the onrushing Poke who brought the ex-Bournemouth striker down in full flight.
McQuoid picked himself up to tick the penalty away for 1-0, despite the former Torquay and Eastleigh keeper diving the right way.
Soon after Musonda found himself unchartered territory after Bakinson threaded the ball through to him, but the right-back’s right-footed shot arrowed just wide. Then left-back McJannett delivered an inviting cross that found Vassell unmarked, but the ex-Truro man couldn’t make a full connection with his head.
Wokign finished an entertaining half in the ascendancy, King having to get down low to save smartly from Ugwu and the goalkeeper and Cuthbert combining to clear the striker’s downward header before Jones sent another effort just wide at the far post, but the leveller didn’t come for the Cards.
Jones kept the same starting XI for the second half, with the subs going through a strenuous keep-ball session on the pitch at the break.
Young McJannett began in the same fashion he’d played much of the first half, raiding down the left and winning a couple of early corners.
From a third, won this time by McQuoid’s persistence, Cuthbert climbed highest to head wide, soon after clearing Chike Kandi’s shot on the edge of the six-yard box with King out of his goal.
The Town boys were passing the ball with conviction and accuracy, Famewo spraying the ball out to the left with his weaker right foot and Bakinson making ground, before Rea switched the ball beautifully out to the right to Musonda, whose cross was well dealt with by the hosts’ defence.
In the 63rd minute Jones started to make his changes. Olly Lee came on for Rea and James Justin replaced Cuthbert, with Musonda moving to the heart of the defence.
It had been a good hour's work for the captain, but within two minutes of his exit the hosts were level, Charlie Carter stealing into the space Cuthbert had vacated to turn Fabio Sairava’s corner home.
In the 67th minute the Hatters were almost back in front when Justin got to the right byline and cut back for McQuoid to head at goal, only for Poke to claw his effort off the line.
Then, seconds after Cameron McGeehan and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu had entered the fray for Bakinson and McQuoid, Famewo met Rea’s dinked free-kick with a full head in front of goal, but couldn’t steer it on target.
The National League outfit were giving as good as they got, however, and Delano Sam-Yorke made space for himself in the Hatters' box and fired just over the bar on 73 minutes.
Two minutes later Mpanzu teed up McGeehan for a stabbed shot on the run from 20 yards, with the ball flying just over.
Then Jones introduced another of the youth team brigade, with Freddie Hinds replacing Vassell, and first year pro Liam Gooch coming on in goal for King.
Banton was still getting on the ball and probing for an opening, his ball to McGeehan on the edge of the box ending with the latter firing in a snap-shot on the turn, but his effort was charged down before it had chance to take flight.
All in all, a fair result from after an entertaining fifth pre-season friendly for the Town who now move onto the final warm-up game at home to Walsall on Saturday.
Town: King (Gooch 75), Musonda, Cuthbert (Justin 63), Famewo, McJannett, Rea (Lee 63), Banton, Bakinson (Mpanzu 67), Cook, McQuoid (McGeehan 67), Vassell (Hinds 75)