The Hatters’ youth team progressed to the third round of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup in new Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Inigo Idiakez’s first game in charge this afternoon with a 2-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle at Ely Way.
Like in the first round demolition of Barnet, when the Hatters ran out 8-1 winners, the Town youngsters dominated the second round tie until the visitors from Devon created several good opportunities to get back in the game in the last ten minutes.
By that stage, however, Idiakez’s lads were deservedly in control of the tie thanks to Drew Richardson’s first-half opener, and Michael Shamalo’s close range finish immediately after the break.
Richardson rounded off a fine move down the Town left to give them the advantage on 14 minutes.
Then, after Ciaren Jones set Connor Tomlinson free to beat the offside trap and put a low ball into the six-yard box, Shamalo tapped in at the second attempt to double the advantage in the 47th minute.
Substitute Josh Neufville spurned a great chance to put the result beyond any doubt on the hour when Jack James burst down the right and cut the ball back from the byline, only for the striker to steer his effort just wide of the far post.
The Hatters remained in control until the closing stages, when Plymouth proved just off target – or found keepr Tiernan Parker in their way – with several good openings.
But the groundwork had already been done, and Idiakez was delighted with how his new troops had performed.
“It was fantastic,” said the Spaniard. “I think it was a really, really good game for everyone. We created chances, playing decent football. I am really pleased with all of them.
“We created a lot of chances, which is important as well. But I think from yesterday as well in training, the attitude and everything is great, so we have to progress and keep working with them – we definitely have good players here.
“In the last ten minutes, be it sloppy or be it that they were a little bit tired, Plymouth had a few chances.
“But that is the key – if you create chances, you have a chance to win. If not, it’s difficult.
“I was really pleased with the way we played as well. We were patient with the ball and yes, it was good. Everything was fantastic.”
On his first couple of days working with the youth team after starting in his new role yesterday, the UEFA Pro Licence holder added: “Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to have, but I’m quite impressed by the work-rate and the quality of the boys. I’m looking forward to working with all of them.”
TOWN: Parker, James, Mead ©, C Jones, Panter (Byron 68), Peck, Belgrove (Sorunke 53), Richardson, Read, Tomlinson, Shamalo (Neufville 59)
Goals: Richardson 14, Shamalo 47
(With thanks to LIAM SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY for the match gallery)