Boss Andy felt first half was "poor", second half "slightly better"
Andy Awford felt his development squad “dropped below their normal standards” in their 3-2 win over Leyton Orient at Hitchin Town’s Top Field this afternoon.
The Town youngsters, bolstered by senior pros Craig Mackail-Smith, Jonathan Smith, Isaac Vassell and Josh McQuoid, had to bounce back from being a goal down at half-time.
Smith netted a smart equaliser shortly before being substituted on the hour with the other first teamers, then Tyreeq Bakinson scored a wonderful second to put the Town 2-1 up before Orient equalised with nine minutes to go.
Substitute Freddie Hinds grabbed a late winner, and asked for his thoughts on the game, Awford told lutontown.co.uk: “Mixed really. Obviously it’s always nice to win, but for me we dropped below our normal standards today and it could have been better in lots of areas.
“As a collective, first half we were miles away in everything we want to do as a football club. I said to the boys, ‘It doesn’t matter who you are playing for, whether it’s our Under-16s, our Under-18s, our development squad or the first team, there is a level of working hard’, and I didn’t think that we worked hard in that first half.
“They were told and we got a bit of a reaction in the second half, it was a little bit better. Still, for me, off where we want to be, but they reacted a bit better.”
There were two late changes to Awford’s side, with goalkeeper Craig King dropping out ill and Liam Gooch being summoned from the Ely Way training ground as his replacement.
Then Akin Famewo felt his hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced by Jack James, who played left-back with Ciaren Jones moving inside to centre-half.
“Craig turned up and he looked white as a sheet,” explained Awford. “He’d been sick this morning but he wanted to play, so fair play to him, but he was in no position to.
“The medical staff had a look at him and we needed to get him out of the way because we didn’t want him spreading a virus or something that he might have.
“So we put the call in for Liam to come down, then in the warm-up Akin felt the top of his hamstring, right up near his backside, so there was no point in risking him, aggravating it and making it worse.
“It happens. It’s happened at first team level recently, at Plymouth on the opening day and then with James Justin at Orient. You just have to get on with it, and that was nothing to do with anything.”
The bright moments for the Hatters all came in an entertaining second half, with Bakinson’s 70th-minute effort the highlight.
Awford said: “Tyreeq has that in his locker to break forward on occasion from midfield, and it was a lovely finish on his wrong foot as well – it was a great goal and credit where it’s due.
“The first goal from Jonathan was a good one as well, good link play and we’ve worked it well and got him inside the box.
“I was disappointed that we let them back into it at two each. I wanted us to shut the game down then, because we haven’t been great. Then there is a decent ball over the top from Frankie Musonda for Freddie, who finished it well to win it for us.
“It was slightly better second half, but it’s not one I’m going to go over the top with. It was a poor first half in my opinion.”