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26 September 2016

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Paul Driver's side continue their excellent run of form

The Hatters Youth Team continued their excellent start to the season with a hard fought victory over AFC Wimbledon at the Kings College Sports Ground in New Malden.
Geo Craig gave Paul Driver’s side an early lead after firing in from close range, before Freddie Hinds sealed the win just before the half-hour mark when he rounded the Dons’ keeper and fired home after a smart through ball from Corey Panter.
Hinds, Arthur Read, Kavan Cotter and Jack James returned to the starting line-up from the previous week’s game at Gillingham in place of Scott Belgrove, Jake Peck, Kitan Sorunke and Harry Bean respectively.
It was the Hatters who started the brightest and could have scored within the first minute as a Read cross just evaded Connor Tomlinson's run into the six-yard box, and the Under-16s striker couldn't quite get a touch on the ball.
The opening goal followed soon after though, when in the third minute, Read nicked the ball in midfield and found Panter. The left back's ball forward went over all of the AFC Wimbledon defence to Craig, who made no mistake from the edge of the six-yard box to put his side in front.
The hosts looked to hit back quickly and were unlucky not to be level when they struck the post in the ninth minute.
The Hatters' next chance came just before the 20-minute mark, when the hosts’ keeper didn't get to a cross and the ball bounced to Tomlinson who shot first time from the edge of the box, but his effort was cleared off the line by a covering defender.
The lead was doubled in the 28th minute when Hinds got on the end of a Panter through ball to calmly round the oncoming keeper and put the ball into the empty net.
Ciaran Gordon-Stearn made an excellent stop to deny a Dons winger when he was through one-on-one with the Hatters keeper, making sure his side stayed firmly in the lead.
The second half was an even affair throughout with neither keeper called into action too much.  
Both teams had efforts cleared off the line within the first ten minutes of the half though. Good work by Tomlinson saw the youngster cut out an attempted back pass before playing in Craig, whose goal bound effort was blocked by a defender.
Read and Hinds saw efforts go wide, as AFC Wimbledon started to cause problems for the Hatters defence from set plays. Neither team though was able to add to the score as substitutions were made by both camps.
Belgrove replaced Craig in attack, Jack Snelus returned from injury to take over from Tomlinson, and Sorunke replaced Ciaren Jones after the central defender had briefly moved to full-back when Bean had come on for Panter.
The final substitution saw Under 15s Keeper James Ellis come on for the injured Gordon-Stearn, but the young stopper was not tested and the Hatters recorded another victory.
Driver’s side now sit in second place behind the unbeaten Leyton Orient.
Afterwards, Youth Team manager Paul Driver said: "We started really well and could have been a couple of goals up in no time, which is very encouraging, and the two lads up front took their goals well.  
“We never really kicked on after the second goal, though, and our build-up play out from the back wasn't good enough. We didn't look 100 per cent solid at the back when we got tested, so we'll have to look to work on those later in the week before Barnet next weekend.”
Hatters Team: Gordon-Stearn (Ellis 84), James, Panter (Bean 59), Murray, Jones (Sorunke 77), Mead, Read, Cotter, Tomlinson (Snelus 59), Hinds, Craig (Belgrove 69).

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