The Hatters reached the semi-finals of the Bedfordshire FA Senior Cup with a 2-0 win over AFC Dunstable on Tuesday night.
Dan Walder’s side was mostly made up of youth team players, with the additions of first team pros and players on development contracts.
The game also marked the return of midfielder Jake Peck, who had been out with a broken leg since April. The 19-year-old played the first 45 minutes before being substituted at half-time, having some good touches and passes.
The hosts had the opportunity to open the scoring after just four minutes, as Ryan Frater’s delicious back stick cross was met by Kyle Ajayi who managed to get decent contact with a header, but it was straight at Marek Stech.
Tra Lucas went close as he nearly got on the end of a Josh Neufville cross, before going on a one-man mission as he took on three Dunstable players, only to slip as he took his shot, making it a straight forward one for the hosts’ defence to deal with.
The breakthrough came just before the half-time whistle as Lucas slipped the ball through to Josh Boorn, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
Town had their second of the evening ten minutes after the restart as Corey Panter’s cross from the left was deflected in off a Dunstable defender.
Boorn would have a handful of chances to add to the score-line, first seeing his driving effort palmed over, before curling a strike just over from Neufville’s cross.
It was a strong display from Walder’s team, who dealt well with the physicality of the hosts, and for the most part nullifying their threats.
Walder said: “I am very pleased with the boys, I thought the pros conducted themselves very professionally, they were excellent. That gave the young players the platform to play the way they did. It was a good example of how to approach these games and do things properly.
“Second half we got a little bit sloppy in possession, but throughout the whole game we were the better team and we deserved to win.
“A key part of our plan was to say to them, we have to compete physically and earn the right to play football – the boys did that really well. We were really conscious we didn’t want to turn the game into a fight, so we had to get the ball down and play when we could. But when we were defending, we really had to do that with some gusto and with some aggression and I thought we did.
“The semi-final is a great opportunity. I think these sorts of games are vital from an academy perspective because to blood these kids through, to give them a taste of what it’s like to play under lights and in front of a bit of a crowd with something riding on it, against men who are in more physical shape than them and they have to find coping mechanisms to deal with them, I think that’s invaluable. So the more games like this we can win and play, the better development for the boys to hopefully get through to the first team eventually.”
Town: Stech, Jones, Musonda, Moloney, Panter, Beckwith (Stevens 83), Peck (Pettit 46), Boorn, Neufville, Nicolson, Lucas (Newton 63).
On the bench: Parker, Stevens, Halsey, Pettit, Newton.
Goals: Boorn 44