FA Trophy Round One: Luton Town 2 (0) Staines Town 0 (0)
Hatters earned an FA Trophy second round tie at home with Wrexham after making heavy weather of Skrill South side Staines Town tonight, writes Mike Simmonds.
Second half goals from Andy Parry and Shaun Whalley were enough for the Hatters, who made three changes to the side from the weekend as Charlie Smith was handed his full debut, while Alex Wall and Andy Parry came in.
A lacklustre first half failed to ignite the sparse crowd, with most of Town’s opportunities falling to returning striker Wall.
First he scuffed wide when well placed, and his robust approach fashioned another chance that the Swans’ hero from Saturday, Jack Turner, saved with his legs.
The keeper then had an almighty let off when he failed to gather Wall’s tame drive, and with the ball rolling towards the line, pounced on it just in the nick of time to snatch it away at the last moment.
Staines looked a decent outfit when in possession as Louie Theophanous went on skilful run and fired at Justham from 20 yards.
Hatters should have been 1-0 in front midway through the half but Wall fluffed a glaring chance as Mpanzu spun his way past a defender and crossed, only for the forward somehow blaze over from a few yards.
Turner was quick to resume his role of denying Town, as he flew to his right to tip Whalley’s curler behind before the break.
In the second half, Hatters finally broke the deadlock after over 135 minutes of football when Smith’s whipped free kick flicked off a head and Parry showed wonderful technique to chest and volley into the net, finally ending Turner’s resistance.
Town should have had a penalty on 56 minutes when Whalley sent Mpanzu scampering clear, but despite clearly being hauled down, referee Nick Kinseley gave nothing.
Hatters finally killed off their plucky opponents in the 71st minute though when Smith’s cross was flicked home by Whalley for a rare headed goal.
The Swans were then almost back in the game immediately as Sanchez Ming tricked his way past Howells, and saw a fierce drive punched away by Justham, who then stopped Oluwole Akinsanya’s rebound.
The visitors then missed an even better chance when Max Worsfold tamely shot straight at Justham after going through one-on-one.
For the first time in the tie, Luton’s extra fitness and quality finally shone through in the final 15 minutes, with the athletic Mpanzu running the show in midfield.
A delectable flick from Whalley sent Mark Cullen clear, but once again Turner won the duel with his legs.
Young midfielder Ian Rees came on for his Hatters debut and late sub Zane Banton was inches away from capping an exciting display with a first Town goal, arrowing just wide with two delicious strikes from distance, while another effort was again excellently repelled by Turner at full stretch.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Tinashe Chabata, Jake Howells, Andy Parry, Joe Davis, Matt Robinson, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Charlie Smith (Ian Rees 82), Shaun Whalley, Mark Cullen, Alex Wall (Zane Banton 61).
Subs not used: Arnaud Mendy, Arel Amu, Ben Barnes.
Swans: Jack Turner, Sanchez Ming (Erivaldo Felix 80), Jordaan Brown, Lewis Ferrell (C Stephane Ngamvoulou 70), Chris M’Boungou, Jerel Ifil, Ashley Lodge, Bajram Pashaj (Dan Brown 60), Louie Theophanous, Max Worsfold.
Subs not used: Kyle Merson, Luke Neville.
Bookings: Howells 10; M’Boungou 47.
Referee: N Kinseley.
Assistant referees: R Cox, C Husband.
Fourth official: M Holmes.
Attendance: 911 (Swans 47).
Star Hatter: Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu.