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LuaLua, Clark and Shinnie on target for the Hatters at The Vale...

25 August 2020

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The Town recorded a third pre-season friendly win out of three tonight at Vanarama National League side Wealdstone.

One again manager Nathan Jones made wholesale mid-game changes to give players valuable time out on the pitch, but this time waited until just past the hour before switching nine, having already brought Sam Beckwith on at half-time, with Simon Sluga the only one to stay on for the whole 90.

After wins at Berkhamsted and Stevenage in the opening two matches, the Hatters soon settled into their rhythm against a side managed by ex-Hatter Dean Brennan.

Wealdstone also had Town keeper Harry Isted playing in goal, with the Hatters giving permission after the 23-year-old starred on loan in their National League South championship success last season, with the potential for him to return to The Vale for a second spell.

The early breakthrough came on nine minutes when LuaLua took his time to side-foot past Isted into the top corner after good build-up play between Jordan Clark, Peter Kioso, James Collins and George Moncur down the right.

Moncur tried his luck a couple more times as the half progressed, and it was from his third attempt – a shot that was blocked – that the ball made its way to Clark to score his first goal in a Town shirt in the 34th minute.

The recent signing from Accrington checked back a couple of times to twist his marker, then unleashed a left-footed shot that found the stanchion before nestling in the back of the net.

Jones switched just one position at half-time with Sam Beckwith coming on at left-back for Corey Panter, who would return later at left-sided centre-half.

It was soon 3-0 – Shinnie finding the bottom corner five minutes in after a crisp passing move on the right side of the area saw Collins backheel into the Scot’s path – before the mass changes followed just after on the hour.

The only thing that didn't was the scoreline – helped by Sluga who was called into action for the first time in the 82nd minute.

The keeper warmed up for facing Ronaldo and Mbappe with Croatia next week by tipping a free-kick from Danny Green over the bar, to preserve a third successive clean sheet.


FIRST HOUR: Sluga, Kioso, Cranie, Bradley, Panter (Beckwith 46), Tunnicliffe, Shinnie, Moncur, Clark, Collins, LuaLua.

LAST HALF-AN-HOUR: Sluga, Jones, Pearson, Panter, Beckwith, Rea, Berry, Mpanzu, Lee, Hylton, Cornick.

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