SCOTT Rendell’s first goal in a Luton shirt coupled with Stuart Fleetwood’s deft finish saw Hatters continue their 100 per cent pre-season winning run at Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division side St Albans tonight, writes Mike Simmonds.
Town boss Paul Buckle picked yet another strong side for the match, with trialist Dean Brill starting between the posts, where he furthered his chances of earning a contract with a display of commanding reassurance.
Summer signing Lathaniel Rowe-Turner began at centre-half where was dominant in the air throughout the opening 45 minutes, while Stuart Fleetwood, Scott Rendell and Andre Gray formed a potent front three.
There was no Harry Crawford in the squad, while Aaron O’Connor and Andre Boucard, both who have been linked with moves away from Kenilworth Road, were conspicuous in their absence too.
Summer signings Jon Shaw and Danny Spiller were in attendance, but not considered, although there was a welcome return for keeper Mark Tyler, who was put through his paces in the warm-up, but remained an unused substitute.
Former Saints player JJ O’Donnell was eager to impress against his former club, and he started brightly, jinking to the by-line where his cross was turned away from danger by Narada Bernard.
O’Donnell then swung over the corner for an unmarked Ronnie Henry to put his free header wide.
From the opening forays, the Saints looked to be far more of a test than Town had faced from AFC Dunstable at the weekend, as there were precious few goalscoring opportunities for the visitors.
Andre Gray tried his luck from 20 yards only to shoot straight at keeper Nick Jupp, while the stopper then made an instinctive block from Scott Rendell’s point blank attempt, though how much he knew about it was debatable.
Town took the lead on 34 minutes though as Jake Howells slipped Fleetwood through and his cross found Rendell in splendid isolation to tap in from a matter of yards.
One became two within moments as Rendell turned provider to set Fleetwood away and the striker did excellently to shrug off his defender, commit Jupp and dink the ball into the far corner.
Rendell was close to his second just before the break after linking up cleverly with Taylor, but Jupp bravely won the battle this time, charging down the shot with his legs.
Hatters made four changes at the break as Garry Richards got his first minutes in a Town shirt, while Janos Kovacs, Dan Walker and Matt Robinson replaced Henry, Jake Howells, Gray and Adam Watkins.
With St Albans making a number of change too, Town’s dominance was momentarily halted although the flying Taylor saw his low effort saved by Jupp.
Richards made a brave block to prevent the hosts pulling one back on 70 minutes, while Walker’s quick thinking produced a turn and shot that bobbled just wide and Robinson’s low drive was inches off target.
With Town having safety in the numbers at the back, Rowe-Turner was given license to push forward and came close to a third on more than one occasion, just forgetting to take the ball with him at the pivotal moment.
O’Donnell was desperately unlucky as time ticked away, with his searing left-footer pinging against the post with replacement keeper Alex Tokarcyzk a spectator.
The hosts’ only real opportunities came through the left boot of the dimuntive Chris Henry, but his accuracy was way off, with only members of the 582 strong crowd and not the net in danger whenever he pulled the trigger.
Saints almost had a consolation with the last action, but Henry’s close ranger header flew well wide as Town made it three wins from three in their build up to the new campaign.
Saints: Nick Jupp, Chris Seedy, Narada Bernard, David Ijaha, Wayne Walters, Matt McEntagart, Edward Adjei, Adam Everitt, Lewis Toomey, Danny Spendlove, Richard Graham.
Subs: Anton Blackwood, Aaron Lansquiot, James Gray, Moussa Diarra, Ollie Cleaver, Simon Martin, Chris Henry, Alex Tokarcyzk, David Parkinson, Sol Shields, Rob Haworth.
Hatters: Dean Brill, Ronnie Henry (Garry Richards 46), Greg Taylor, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Jake Howells (Janos Kovacs 46), Yaser Kasim, JJ O’Donnell, Adam Watkins (Matt Robinson 46), Stuart Fleetwood (Dean Beckwith 66), Scott Rendell, Andre Gray (Dan Walker 46).
Sub not used: Mark Tyler.