Paul Driver's Under-18s win seven-goal thriller
LUTON TOWN YOUTH 4
The Hatters Youth Team entertained Barnet at Ely Way on Saturday morning and a dramatic end to the contest saw Michael Shamalo snatch an injury time winner on his return from a lengthy lay-off due to a knee operation.
Paul Driver mixed his side up once again including three players from the Under 16s squad and giving Tyreeq Bakinson some important playing time. The youngsters used were Tiernan Parker in goal, Toby Byron at centre-back and Connor Tomlinson up front with the returning Scott Belgrove.
The Hatters had the better of the earlier exchanges and chances to Belgrove and Jack James when clear through on goal were both well saved by the visiting keeper.
It was Barnet who took the lead in the 21st minute, though, with a rapid breakaway seeing their striker clean through on Parker's goal and he made no mistake slotting the ball into the corner of the net.
The Hatters continued to play some good football despite the setback and pulled level when Belgrove played Jack Snelus through and the midfielder was brought down just inside the box and a penalty was awarded. Snelus picked himself up and converted the spot-kick.
Parker was called into action on the stroke of half-time and a neat save from close range ensured the teams went into the break level.
The early stages of the second half mirrored the game at Gillingham two weeks ago with the Hatters taking the lead early on and then conceding almost immediately.
Kavan Cotter – on at half-time in a pre-determined swap with Arthur Read – struck when his 48th minute free-kick from 30 yards eluded everyone in the box and ended up in the corner of the net.
Barnet struck back in the 49th minute when another well timed run again caught the Hatters defence out of place, and a cut back was passed into the net at the back post.
Freddie Hinds replaced Belgrove, who picked up an injury in the build up to the equaliser, and it was the front man who restored the lead in the 76th minute when his close range header from a Geo Craig cross gave the Barnet keeper no chance.
The Hatters were again unable to keep their lead for long and Barnet drew level again in the 81st minute when, again, an attacker broke through and finished past the oncoming Parker.
Just when it looked like a draw was inevitable, a Cotter corner deep into injury-time was met by Shamalo who smashed the ball in from close range.
Even though there were only 30 seconds left, Parker was called into action to make a point blank save to maintain the lead and ensure the Hatters took all three points.
Luton Team: Parker, Bean (C), James, Mead, Byron, Bakinson (Cotter 46), Sorunke, Read (Craig 46), Snelus, Belgrove (Hinds 55), Tomlinson (Shamalo). Sub Not Used: Jones
Youth team manager Paul Driver spoke to lutontown.co.uk afterwards, and he said: "I think Barnet can rightly think themselves very unlucky not to get anything from the game given their second half performance.
“I thought we were excellent in the first half and probably deserved to lead, but the standards dropped in the second half and the defending from us was massively below an acceptable level.
“On a positive note, we got the right game time into the older boys who have played U21s games lately and it was great to have Michael Shamalo back.
“I'm delighted for him that he got the winner because he has worked very hard to get fit again after his knee operation."