Strikers Paul Benson and Charlie Walker both scored doubles as Luton Town beat Gillingham 5-2 in their Final Third Development League Cup Group A clash at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
Hatters picked an exceptionally strong team for the match, with Luke Guttridge, Jonathan Smith and Nathan Doyle all starting, while Alex Lawless and Andy Parry made their return from injury.
Opponents Gillingham had experienced keeper Stuart Nelson between the posts, but half the side hadn’t featured for the first team this year.
Luton almost scored in the opening moments as Charlie Walker’s industry set up Guttridge, and his angled drive was inches wide.
Walker was close himself, shooting narrowly over, while Guttridge danced his way through a number of challenges only to be denied by Stuart Nelson.
Walker went alone when he should teed up Benson, while Benson was denied by a brilliant save from Nelson, who clawed away his diving header.
The Gills keeper could do nothing on 13 minutes though when Walker latched on to a loose clearance in the box and showing his predatory instincts, drilled low into the net.
Town should have made it 2-0 soon afterwards as Smith rolled the ball into the path of Lawless who side-footed wide from eight yards out.
Gills offered very little going forward, Antonio German’s speculative volley gathered by Elliot Justham at the second attempt.
Matt Robinson, employed as a makeshift right back then almost added his side’s second, with his daisycutter watched past the post by Nelson.
The lead was doubled on 32 minutes though when Walker fed Smith and his low drive found the bottom corner via the fingertips of Nelson.
Walker then immediately doubled his tally in sumptious style, taking Benson’s flick and first time lobbing over the backpedalling Nelson.
Guttridge also came close in audacious fashion, with an overhead volley from Benson’s header back into the area blocked by Nelson.
Walker almost had his hat-trick in some style, when he showed lovely control to pluck a ball out of the sky, but on this occasion blasted just wide.
In the second period, Justham finally had some work, collecting Charlie Webster’s effort, before the Gills winger did pull one back, turning home the rebound after Matt Fish’s drive hit the post.
Benson sent a flying header against the bar from Guttridge’s dinked cross, while Smith was denied by the keeper, although when the resulting corner wasn’t cleared, Benson volleyed home.
The returning striker had another moments later, prodding home after Walker missed his sliding effort.
Town then rung the changes with Isaac Galliford, Jim Stevenson and Lee Hawkes on for Doyle, Lawless and Smith just after the hour mark.
Walker almost completed his hat-trick in glorious style as he let fly from outside the box and his dipping piledriver smashed against the underside of the bar and out again.
The Gills did pull another one back on 80 minutes though when sub Jack Sellens broke away from Town’s defence and his shot beat Justham.
Hatters’ keeper was also called into action, turning over Mahlon Romeo’s piledriver, but it was Luton who got everything they had wanted from the fixture.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Matt Robinson, Jordan Brown, Alex Lacey, Andy Parry, Jonathan Smith (Isaac Galliford 63), Nathan Doyle (Lee Hawkes 63), Alex lawless (Jim Stevenson 63), Luke Guttridge, Paul Benson, Charlie Walker.
Subs not used: Craig King, Ekene Amadi.
Gills: Stuart Nelson, Matt Fish, Mahlon Romeo, Josh Hare, Devante McKain, Josh Staunton, Mike Frieter, Aidan Blanchard, Aaron Millbank, Antonio German, Charlie Webster.
Subs: Jack Sellens, Callum Emptage, Mitchell Dickenson, Tom Hadler.