FA Trophy Round One: Staines Town 0 (0) Luton Town 0 (0)
A battling display from 10-man Staines Town saw them hold a youthful Luton side to a goalless draw at Wheatsheaf Park this afternoon in the first round of the FA Trophy, writes Mark Wood.
An at times virtuoso performance from keeper Jack Turner helped to keep Town out as the Swans played for over an hour with a man less following the harsh dismissal of Jordaan Brown for two silly handballs in the first half.
Town threatened throughout as Turner twice denied Mark Culllen with great saves, while also thwarting Matt Robinson, David Viana and sub Charlie Smith, as the pair will meet again in a replay at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.
It was all change for the Hatters as they rotated all 11 players from the side that beat Southport 3-0 on Tuesday, with the average age of the starting XI just under the age of 21.
Loan defenders Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Joe Davis were handed their debuts alongside former Portugal U19 international Viana and young defender Tinashe Chabata.
Youthful Luton made a lively start and should have taken the lead after just four minutes when Shaun Whalley threaded Cullen clean through but Turner stood his ground well to save well.
Staines though were no pushovers as Max Worsfold curled his free-kick just wide on 12 minutes.
Trickery from Viana ended in him dragging harmlessly wide on 18 minutes, while Worsfield warmed Elliot Justham’s gloves from range with an effort midway through the half.
But the game swung completely in Town’s favour when Staines were harshly reduced to 10 men after half an hour when Jordaan Brown, who had already been booked for deliberate handball on eight minutes, did it again as Whalley look to jink past and was duly dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Town proceeded to boss possession as Matt Robinson drilled over five minutes later and Viana’s 38th-minute effort was so wayward it went off for a throw.
Despite being a man down, game Swans remained competitive as Stephane Ngamvoulou’s curler was easily saved by Justham.
Cullen’s first-time shot from Whalley’s free-kick was well blocked, before Luton finally put their best move of the game together before the break as Robinson drove through the middle, but fired wide.
Despite being a man down Staines did craft the best chance of the game on the cusp of half time but Dan Brown could only head powerfully right at Justham.
Two minutes into the second half and Town should have been ahead when Whalley beat his man and chipped to the back post but Cullen’s looping header landed on the roof of the net.
Rare inclusion Arnaud Mendy then tried his luck from range, but fired wide before Whalley’s 30-yard effort forced Turner to tip over.
The Swans keeper then pulled off a magnificent treble save on 53 minutes. First he did well to keep out Robinson’s viciously swerving effort from outside the area and then recovered brilliantly to save Cullen’s follow-up. And an amazing spell of action culminated in a wonderful flying stop to keep out Viana’s drive as the scores somehow remained goalless.
Alex Wall replaced Zane Banton just past the hour and Whalley then beat his man twice before seeing his near-post effort saved again by Turner.
Having taken a heavy knock Viana was replaced by youngster Charlie Smith, before Whalley’s dangerous cross went begging as Town looked for a winner.
A brilliant bit of skill by Staine’s Louie Theophanous saw him control, turn and volley just over on 69 minutes before Worsfold burst through the middle but fired straight at Justham from the edge of the area.
More acrobatics from Turner saw him brilliantly deny Smith from range on 72 minutes before he got down well to save Wall’s low free-kick.
Neither Wall or Cullen could connect with Howells’ dangerous cross with seven minutes to go, while sub Bajram Pashaj had a chance to win it in stoppage time when he turned in the box but rolled tamely at Justham.
It was a frenetic finish as Robinson played Cullen through but the young striker was crowded out in the box before Davis flicked wide from Whalley’s centre as it finished all square, meaning a replay at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.
Swans (4-5-1): Jack Turner, Sanchez Ming, Jordaan Brown, Lewis Ferrell (C), Chris M’Boungou, Jerel Ifil, Ashley Lodge, Stephane Ngamvoulou (Luke Neville 46), Louie Theophanous, Dan Brown (Oluwole Akinsanya 65), Max Worsfold (Bajram Pashaj 78). Substitutes not used: Kyle Merson, Erivaldo Felix.
Hatters (4-4-2): Elliot Justham, Jake Howells (C), Mark Cullen, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Joe Davis, David Viana (Charlie Smith 63), Shaun Whalley, Matt Robinson, Arnaud Mendy, Zane Banton (Alex Wall 61), Tinashe Chabata. Substitutes not used: Arel Amu, Ian Rees, Ben Barnes.
Booked: Brown 8; Brown 30; Ifil FT.
Sent Off: Brown 30.
Referee: Colin Lymer (Old Basing).
Assistant Referees: Joe Simpson (Marple Bridge) and John Pike (Hurstpierpoint).
Fourth Official: Matthew Goldsmith (Hastings).
Star Hatter: Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu. Strong and combative performance from the on-loan West Ham United defender.