Hatters youngsters go down to Shrimpers
LUTON TOWN YOUTH 1
SOUTHEND UNITED YOUTH 3
The Hatters’ youth team entertained Southend United in the EFL Youth Alliance League on Saturday in a game switched to Shefford & Campton FC due to the Ely Way training ground being unfit.
Paul Driver again named a very young side with five Under-16s starting the game for the second match running, and they gave a much better account of themselves than in the defeat to Barnet in midweek, despite going down 3-1 to an in-form Southend side.
The Hatters started the game well and a great move in the 16th minute brought the first real chance of the game as Kitan Sorunke combined with Drew Richardson before delivering a cross which the oncoming George Murray scooped just over the bar.
The home side then took the lead in the 21st minute when they won the ball back in the Southend half. Tyreeq Bakinson found Kavan Cotter and the midfielder smashed the ball into the top corner of the net from 30 yards out.
In the 31st minute, the Hatters nearly doubled the lead when Jack James burst into the box and hit a fine left-footed shot that the visiting keeper tipped onto the bar with an excellent stop.
As the half drew to a close, Town goalkeeper Tiernan Parker was called into action for the first time as he made a close-range, instinctive stop to deny an equaliser in the 37th minute,
It was only three minutes later, though, that the visitors did draw level from a glanced header from ten yards out.
Half-time: Luton Town Youth 1 Southend United Youth 1
A fairly even start to the second half saw no real chances for either side until the 54th minute when Southend had a free-kick scrambled clear, but a neat header at the back post from the resulting corner looped into the net.
Parker was then called upon to keep the Hatters in the game with a block with his legs and then a superb reaction save to keep a firm header from going into the net.
Freddie Hinds – on as a second half substitute for Murray – had a great chance to level the scores in the 68th minute when he was fed through by Cotter, but dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Another chance came for Hinds in the 76th minute as the Southend keeper charged out of his area to head the ball clear, but it fell to Jack Snelus who went round the keeper and the ball found its way to the striker, but his shot was blocked.
This was the last real chance for the Hatters and Southend sealed the win in the 83rd minute as they won the ball back in the centre circle and released their striker, who burst past the home defence to finish neatly past the advancing Parker.
After the game, manager Paul Driver told lutontown.co.uk: "We were much better today than at Barnet, which was really pleasing and it shows that the 16s are starting to get used to playing at this level because Southend are big, strong outfit who are in really good form at the moment, and I felt we acquitted ourselves well against them.
“It was a great save by their keeper to stop Jack James putting us two up and giving us a bit of a buffer, and then they got their equaliser at a bad time for us just before the break, which seemed to boost them.
“They changed their shape to counter us and I always think that is a compliment to how we are playing at the time, so I am quite positive about our progression.
“We'd like to thank Shefford & Campton FC for the use of their excellent facilities at such short notice, and given the bad weather that has been around over the past few days."
Luton Team: Parker, Sorunke, James, Bakinson, Phelan, Jones, Byron (Snelus 67), Richardson (Read 67), Tomlinson, Cotter, Murray (Hinds 46). Subs Not Used: Mead, Belgrove.