Beds Senior Cup, second round: Stotfold 1 Luton Town 2
Second-half goals from Zane Banton and Geo Craig proved enough for Luton to reach the semi-finals of the Beds Senior Cup with victory at Stotfold on Tuesday night.
I know the gaffer said recently about the cliché of Hartlepool away on a Tuesday night. That was our equivalent.Andy Awford
The hosts, who play in the SSML Premier Division, were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes to go as Shadrach Williams saw red for a late challenge on Kavan Cotter, allowing Luton to see the game out comfortably.
Academy and development boss Andy Awford told the club’s website: “I’m delighted. We set them challenges for every game and tonight’s was about progressing to the next round. We did it, which is great.
“Sometimes it’s about different things as we are not always too worried about the result.
“But tonight we made the result the important factor and we got the outcome we wanted, so I’m delighted we’ve progressed against a strong side.
“I know the gaffer said recently about the cliché of Hartlepool away on a Tuesday night. That was our equivalent.
“Can players do it in not-so-perfect conditions? The pitch was very difficult to play on, but that’s what it is. You have to get on with it.
“It’s not always easy and not always like a carpet whenever you play in our first team.
“You go away to some places and it’s not great, so from that point of view, we said to the players about the basics and making sure we got them right, and for the majority of the game we did.
“I’m pleased with that aspect of it, then two bits of quality won us the game.
“Zane’s was a good finish, but the second one was a good passing move and an excellent finish by Geo as well.
“They got back into it with a strike from the edge of the box which we should have shut down a bit better, but then with five or 10 minutes to go, the lads have shown a bit of maturity and have seen the game out well.”
Luton picked a youthful side for the tie, although did include Frankie Musonda, Tyreeq Bakinson and Banton, who have all made first team starts in the Checkatrade Trophy this season.
Craig had the visitors’ first attempt on goal early on, shooting wide, while Stotfold threatened through Daniel Bond, who found the net only for it to be deemed offside.
Cotter’s curling free-kick narrowly missed the top corner, as Town keeper Liam Gooch collected Ashley Fitton’s 20-yard free-kick and then raced out to deny Bond once more.
Banton’s 34th-minute snapshot called home stopper Nathan Godfrey into action, with Gooch needing to be alert to prevent Bond breaking the deadlock.
Just before half time, Craig went close, before Luton did take the lead six minutes into the second period, Banton shooting low into the corner of the net.
Gooch turned Ben L’Honore’s free-kick around the post as Luton eventually doubled their advantage on 68 minutes, when a crisp move involving Musonda, Harry Bean and Bakinson saw Craig fire past Godfrey.
Stotfold didn’t give up though, sub Ross Maddox spurning a great opportunity, before Bond halved the deficit with 13 minutes to go, lashing home from the edge of the box.
Williams was then sent off for his second booking as Luton hung on to set up a last four tie with either AFC Kempston Rovers, Dunstable Town or the winners of tonight’s game between AFC Dunstable and Bedford Town.
Hatters: Liam Gooch, Harry Bean, Frankie Musonda, Ciaren Jones, Jack James, Tyreeq Bakinson, Kavan Cotter, Jack Snelus, Arthure Read (Kitan Sorunke 80), Zane Banton, Geo Craig (Connor Tomlinson 68).
Subs not used: Joe Mead, Tiernan Parker, Michael Shamalo.