Driver delighted as Luton’s kids show real promise

Ekene Amadi was on target once more as Luton Town U18s lost to Southend and beat Northampton this week.
Ekene AmadiEkene Amadi
Ekene Amadi

First the Hatters travelled to Southend on Saturday, where they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat.

As with all of the matches since the turn of the year, coach Paul Driver put out mainly an U16 side to see if they can join Alex Atkinson and Frankie Musonda on the scholarship programme for the next two seasons.

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At Southend, Town took some time to adjust to the changes and went behind early on.

As the game progressed, Hatters came into proceedings more with good chances for Alfie Leadbeater and Amadi.

The hosts got on top of proceedings though as Hatters couldn’t find an equaliser.

Luton then hosted Northampton Town on Tuesday and were without the services of Luke Trotman, Tinashe Chabata, Daril Ngwala and Craig King, who were all in the Beds Senior Cup squad.

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Luton took the lead on the half hour mark when a short corner routine saw the ball delivered into the box and Musonda’s flick was guided in by Amadi.

The hero of the second half was keeper Liam Gooch, who saved two penalties from different takers to keep his side’s lead in tact.

Tuki Tayali had an effort rebound back off the post before a mix up between a Northampton defender and his keeper led to an horrendous own goal that sealed victory for the hosts.

Boss Driver said: “We started slowly on Saturday and, ultimately, paid the price as we couldn’t claw the goal back.

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“But I was pleased with how we adapted and coped after the first quarter of an hour against a decent side at this level.

“Tuesday was a great day for the squad as a whole and individuals within it.

“We performed really well in tough conditions on a hard pitch and, I feel, thoroughly deserved to win the game.

“Frankie Musonda has come in for his first full game, captained the side, played well and had a hand in the first goal which encourages me greatly.

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“(Assistant boss) Terry Harris was watching and liked what he saw in Alex Atkinson.

“Goochy’s saves, especially the first one, buoyed the lads on and we got the luck with the second that all the lads’ hard work warranted.

“When we consider that only one player who started the game, Lucas Perry, played in the team that we put out in the FA Youth Cup at Huddersfield back in December, this puts into perspective how well these young lads have done against far older oppositions who have all been in the top half of our league.

“Then we went to Barton on Tuesday and Luke and Daril, who are both just first year lads, stepped up to take penalties at a crucial time and both scored to help us win the game which is a credit to them.”

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Hatters (v Northampton): Gooch, Justin, Perry, Musonda (C), Hawkes, Alderson, Atkinson, K Smith, Allman, Tayali, Amadi. Subs: Whybrow, Molyneux, Taylor, Reid.

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