Dance on target but Hatters fall to Arlesey defeat

Beds Senior Cup
Arlesey Town 2 Luton Town 1

Hatters were knocked out of the Beds Senior Cup last night after an extra-time goal from their Football in the Community Officer James Hatch sent Arlesey Town through, writes Mike Simmonds.

The visitors had trailed to Chris Marsh’s first half goal, before James Dance levelled matters with just two minutes remaining, only for Town’s Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division opponents to win it.

Luton had picked a side packed with first team experience for the match on what was a difficult, bobbly playing surface at the aRMadillo Stadium.

Adam Watkins, Dan Walker, Matt Robinson, Greg Taylor, Dean Beckwith and Alex Lacey all started, while there was a sprinkling of youngsters involved too, including youth team goalkeeper Ben Barnes.

A surprising inclusion at right back was French trialist Thierry Audel who has played in both Slovenia and Italy, and although he grew into the game after the break, he did little to suggest Town would offer him a permanent deal.

For the hosts, former Town defender Shane Blackett started, while midfielder Christian Tavernier, who played under ex-boss Richard Money, was on the bench.

Early on, Town striker Alasan Ann had a low shot well saved by Nick Bussey after Jake Woolley’s intelligent flick.

The visitors should have moved ahead on 15 minutes when the ball cannoned into Watkins’ path, but his low drive was blocked for a corner by Bussey.

Instead it was Arlesey who took the lead on 22 minutes when Drew Roberts escaped down the right and his cross deflected perfectly for the onrushing Marsh who took a touch to ride a challenge before burying low past Barnes.

Arlesey fashioned another fine effort on 32 minutes when Roberts teed up Dave Galbraith but his stinging left footer flew inches wide.

After the break, Roberts flashed one across the face of goal, just out of the reach of Blackett, while Ann took Taylor’s cross and fed Watkins, but he scuffed wide.

Luton should have levelled on 60 minutes when Ann and Dance got in the way of each other, before Ann found Taylor and he rolled his effort disappointingly at the keeper.

There were few chances on offer as Marsh’s side-footer bobbled into Barnes’ gloves, while substitute Jemale McKenzie-Lowe’s deflected drive clipped the top of the bar.

Watkins’ shooting was off once more as he shanked a volley well wide, before Luton levelled on 89 minutes with their first move of real quality.

McKenzie-Lowe held the ball up well before Jake Woolley’s cross was met by Dance with a lovely angled header that beat the outstretched dive of Bussey.

The Blues almost hit back immediately when Marsh took aim from 20 yards, but saw his low shot rebound off the inside of the post and out again.

Arlesey were back in front moments after the restart as Hatch drove through the Luton defence before confidently slotting past Barnes.

Town never seriously threatened a way back after that as it was the hosts who pressed for a third with Aston Goss’ lovely free kick on 119 minutes hitting the post leaving Barnes a spectator.

Marsh then had a glorious chance to put the game beyond Hatters, but his touch deserted him at the crucial moment and despite dinking over Barnes, Beckwith had got back to clear the danger.

Arlesey: Nick Bussey, Jeanmal Prosper, Josh Cook, Shane Blackett, Ryan Frater (Danny Gordon 91), Ben Farrell, Chris Marsh, James Hatch, Chris Dillon, Drew Roberts (Aston Goss 65), Dave Galbraith (Christian Tavernier 63)

Subs not used: Zema Abbey, Nathan Abbey.

Hatters: Ben Barnes, Thierry Audel, Greg Taylor, Matt Robinson, Dean Beckwith ©, Alex Lacey, James Dance (Arel Amu 106), Adam Watkins, Alasan Ann (Jemale McKenzie-Lowe 70), Jake Woolley, Dan Walker

Subs not used: Jerome Jibodu, Brett Longden. Charlie Smith

Attendance: 140.