The first team might not be in action on Saturday, but there are plenty of options for a local football fix – starting with the Hatters’ youth team, who begin their Merit League One fixture list with an 11.30am kick-off at home to Swindon Town.
The Hatters’ recent run of fine form after a disappointing start to the EFL Youth Alliance South-East Division campaign season saw them qualify for the top flight of the Merit League with a late Jack James goal that saw off Barnet in their final match at the end of January.
Inigo Idiakez’s lads host Swindon at Ely Way, and will take great heart from the fact they have already beaten the Robins once this season in the quarter-final of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup Southern section.
The Town youngsters have gone on to reach the final of that competition, with Oxford United yesterday confirming that the game on Saturday 31st March will take place at the main stadium – which they now refer to as Grenoble Road – with an 11am kick-off. Ticket information will be made available soon by the U’s for that one.
For now though, the Hatters U18s are focussed on league action and building on a 3-3 friendly draw with Portsmouth last Saturday.
Idiakez told lutontown.co.uk that the players are now entering a crucial part of their development with the club.
“In the last three or four months since we got knocked out of the FA Youth Cup, the boys have been incredible,” said the former Derby and Southampton midfielder. “We qualified for the top six when all had seemed lost, and we’ve reached two cup finals with the majority of the youth team making up the side in the Beds FA Senior Cup, too.
“We are now asking them to keep it up for the rest of the season as we face teams from the higher reaches of the South-West division, as well as those five clubs who finished above us in the South-East.
“Some of the boys will be waiting on decisions being made about professional contracts, so they need to keep performing in every match. We’ll also be sending some out on loan, as we have with Jack James going to Hitchin, to get experience of men’s football as well as the academy matches, so it’s a really important stage in their careers at the moment.
“We’d like to see as many supporters down at Ely Way to support the boys as possible. With the first team not having a game, it’s a great opportunity to get to a match early and then still have the rest of the afternoon to do something different – or go and watch another game! The lads and I would definitely appreciate it so hopefully see you there for 11.30.”
Further options for Saturday afternoon (all 3pm kick-offs) include:
Dunstable Town v Hereford
Half-price entry for Hatters season ticket holders for the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division game at Creasey Park!
Hitchin Town v Gosport Borough
Town youngsters Kavan Cotter and Jack James in action for the Canaries in the same division!
Bedford Town v Thame United
A chance to see former Town striker and current U13s coach Paul Benson leading the Eagles’ line at Step 4!
Crawley Green v Cockfosters
Spartan South Midlands fixture taking place at Barton Rovers’ Sharpenhoe Road ground!