Smith nets a treble as Town U18s ease past Rothwell

Charlie Smith bagged a hat-trick as Luton Town progressed serenely through their FA Youth Cup first round qualifying clash with Rothwell Corinthians this evening, winning 6-0 at Kenilworth Road, writes Mike Simmonds.

Hatters U18s midfielder Ian Rees in action against Watford on Saturday
Hatters U18s midfielder Ian Rees in action against Watford on Saturday

Smith had also scored a treble when the two sides met in the competition two years ago, with Hatters running out 11-1 victors that evening, and the midfield playmaker, who manager John Still has hinted could follow Zane Banton in earning a professional deal, was clearly the standout performer.

Unlike last time, the teenagers couldn’t rack up double figures, despite bossing possession for the entire match, as a combination of some wasteful finishing, dogged defending and good goalkeeping denied them.

Town should have been ahead in the opening 60 seconds as Osaman Allman’s low cross was poked over the bar from a yard out by Ekene Amadi.

Hatters U18s midfielder Ian Rees in action against Watford on Saturday

On six minutes, Hatters were denied by the post, as Smith wriggled clear only to see his low drive rattle against the base of the woodwork.

Rothwell keeper Jack Rowbotham then got enough behind Daril Ngwala’s shot from the edge of the box, but Luton took the lead on 10 minutes when Allman’s jinking run into the area saw him tee up Smith for a quality finish.

Town were creating chances at will as Ian Rees burst through, but tried an optimistic attempt with the outside of his right foot which went well wide, while Allman and Amadi both saw efforts flash narrowly off target.

A persevering run by right back Ben Crilley almost led to a second but Tuki Tayali’s effort was saved by Rowbotham’s legs with Amadi’s follow up blocked.

Ian Rees then fired off a long ranger that Rowbotham finger-tipped behind, before Smith had his second of the evening on 26 minutes.

The midfielder won a free kick 18 yards from goal and after Daril Ngwala’s merest of touches back to him, he found the bottom corner.

Smith should have completed his treble immediately, but rifled over, although he had a major hand in the third, delivering an inch perfect pass for Crilley to slip the ball under Rowbotham.

Rees continued to try his luck from distance, with another piledriver ungainly blocked away by the body of Rowbotham.

Town had the rule of the roost on either flank with a number of crosses flashing across the face of goal, as their strikers just failed to find the finishing touch.

It was 4-0 just before half time though when striker Daril Ngwala received possession, found a yard of space in the box and expertly slotted home.

After the break, Hatters sensed more goals as Tayali headed against the bar from Crilley’s cross, with Smith drilling the rebound wide.

Amadi was next to come close, as one-on-one from a tight angle, his shot dribbled off target.

Luton then won a penalty on 56 minutes when Amadi was tripped in the box after a powerful run and Smith stepped up confidently find the corner of the net.

On the hour Amadi almost notched, cutting inside but dragging his attempt wide of the post, while Ngwala was denied by the bar as he beat Rowbotham to Amadi’s cross, before the striker’s rasping effort from a free kick didn’t dip in time.

Boss Paul Driver introduced Jemale McKenzie-Lowe and Tinashe Chabata during the second period and the former brought a cracking low stop from Rowbotham, before sending in another shot that was palmed aside.

Speedster Arel Amu, another Still has his eye on, was brought on for the final eight minutes and after almost scoring with his first touch, toe-poked in from a corner for Town’s sixth.

To their credit, a clearly outclassed Corinthians kept battling until the end, with their only real sight of goal in the closing stages, Kieran Johnson sending a right footer over Craig King’s bar.

Hatters now face a second round qualifying tie at home to Corby Town next month.

Hatters: Craig King, Ben Crilley (Tinashe Chabata 76), Lucas Perry, Ian Rees, Harry Tamplin, Lee Hawkes, Ekene Amadi, Charlie Smith (Arel Amu 82), Daril Ngwala, Tuki Tayali (Jemale McKenzie-Lowe 66), Osamu Allman.

Subs not used: Zane Banton, Ben Barnes.

Rothwell Corinthians: Jack Rowbotham, Albert Milne, James Denton, Conor York, Sam Tulley, Matthew Bates, Kieran Johnson, Sam Roy, Thomas McLaren, Aaron Lingley (Cameron Knox 63), Ryan Kendall (Lewis Kerfoot 63).

Subs not used: Jamie Frayne, Reece Martin, James Reed.

Attendance: 100.

Town’s youngsters had been beaten 1-0 by Watford U18s in their league clash at the weekend and to view a brief video from the game, click the link above.

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