Six first-team players were part of the Development side who drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace U23s this afternoon.
Luke Berry and Sonny Bradley were back on the pitch after an injury lay-off and James Shea, Dion Pereira, Carlos Mendes Gomes and Cameron Jerome were able to play their part in a competitive match in South London.
The development side made a good start, taking the lead after seven minutes courtesy of Pereira.
Berry was lively from the off and was instrumental in the goal. It was his ball wide to TQ Addy that started the move, before he supported on the overlap and crossed low for Pereira, who had the easy job of slotting the ball into an empty net.
Joined with Carlos Mendes Gomes, the Luton attackers caused plenty of problems early on, before water breaks and injuries made it a somewhat stop-start affair for the rest of the half.
Pereira was denied another from close range minutes into the second half after a well-worked move from the Hatters. Addy delivered a high ball towards Bradley, who headed across goal towards Jerome. The striker reacted quickly to set Pereira up with a backheel, but the Crystal Palace ‘keeper made a strong, low save.
Moments after hitting the post, Palace equalised just after the hour mark, before Adrian Forbes made wholesale changes – the end of the afternoon for all senior players who featured.
Casey Pettit replaced Berry and almost made a big impact, but for a smart save from the Eagles shot-stopper inside the six-yard box.
Despite looking for a winner themselves, it was the home side who were presented with the opportunity to steal victory in the dying embers after they seized possession in midfield. Reacting quickly, Aidan Francis-Clarke produced a vital intervention in the area, before the referee blow his whistle seconds later.
Speaking post-match in the glorious sun, Professional Player Development boss Forbes was delighted with what he saw from his players and heavily praised the first-team players for their involvement.
“It is going to benefit the younger players massively. You have got the experience of the likes of Sonny Bradley from a defensive point of view, club captain playing alongside Aidan Francis-Clarke who is 17 and Josh Swan who is the same age.
“It is great learning for those younger players to play with seasoned pros. On the pros, massive credit to them for how they come in and how they performed. Their attitude and work rate during the game was exceptional but also how they were speaking to the younger pros in the dressing room, helping them and encouraging them.
“As well as that, laying themselves bare, Cameron Jerome said to the younger players make sure you tell us as well, if there is something you think we should be doing then tell us as well. The younger lads will take so much away from today and on top of everything it was a really good performance from everyone.
“To a certain extent, there was no point in me being here really because Sonny did take over but even from my point of view, it is great to have Sonny there talking to the lads, encouraging them, giving them detail and giving them information about how they can improve, how they can better and how they can get a foothold in the game.
“Really fantastic to have the opportunity to have the boys around here and then it was down to me to give that little bit extra. To be honest with you though, the senior players have taken over here today and were exceptional.”
Town: Shea (Cowler 78); Nicolson, Francis-Clarke (C), Bradley (Moloney 67), Swan (Newton 67); Trialist A, Berry (Pettit 67), Pereira (Stevens; Mendes Gomes (Trialist B 67), Addy; Jerome (Lynch 67).
Goals: Pereira (7’)