Hatters U18s hit back to beat Watford

Luton Town’s U18s fought back from a goal down triumph 2-1 at rivals Watford in the Puma Youth Alliance on Saturday.

The Hornets started stronger, but didn’t really trouble Town keeper Ben Barnes, before Hatters fashioned a chance of their own, although Jemale McKenzie-Lowe couldn’t get away a telling strike.

Brett Longden, playing at centre-back in the absence of Tinashe Chabata through injury, had an effort blocked, while Zak Stephens headed wide from Charlie Smith’s corner.

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Watford took the lead after 35 minutes when they intercepted a pass out of defence to bundle the ball over the line.

The second half continued at the same high tempo but Luton levelled when Barnes’ drop kick was flicked on by McKenzie-Lowe and Zane Banton beat the Watford defence to tuck the ball into the bottom corner.

With 14 minutes to go Darill Ngwala replaced Jordan Davis and U16 Zac Jules came on for injured skipper Stephens at centre-back.

With a very inexperienced back line now in place - usual skipper Jerome Jibodu also missing through illness and replaced by Kyle Davison from the club’s Cedars group - it was very much backs to the wall for the Hatters with Barnes making two excellent saves to keep it 1-1.

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The Hatters still posed a threat going forward though and grabbed the winner with three minutes to go, McKenzie-Lowe produced a composed finish from Smith’s cross.

Coach Paul Driver said: “This was our best all-round performance this season.

“We defended well all around the pitch and that was the most pleasing thing for me. Kyle (Davison) and Zac Jules came in and did their bit for the team.

“Ian Rees had his best game and got around the pitch which I am also happy about, while Jemale and Zane up front were excellent as a pair and deserved their goals

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“We have set the benchmark of how we have to play now and we need to build on it.”

Hatters: Barnes, Burtenshaw, Davison, Rees, Longden, Stephens (Jules 81), Davis (Ngwala 76), Smith, McKenzie-Lowe, Banton, Amu.

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