Beds Senior Cup second round: Stotfold 0 Luton Town 5
Luke Guttridge scored and completed a welcome 90 minutes as Luton Town eased into the Beds Senior Cup semi-final with a 5-0 win at Stotfold this evening.
The 32-year-old has been out since November 22 after suffering a recurrence of his metatarsal injury, but thankfully showed no signs of ill effects, as he and Luton were simply far too good for their Molten Spartan SML Premier Division opponents.
Town, with manager John Still watching on, picked a strong side as Alex Lacey, Fraser Franks, Matt Robinson and Alex Wall all started.
Centre half Tom Gardiner, formerly of Tottenham and Hibernian was also given a chance to impress at the heart of Luton’s defence.
It was Guttridge who was the star though as he showed the small crowd just what Hatters have been missing recently, with a display of real class.
On the ball, his vision shone out, while off it, the midfielder was constantly barking out instructions and cajoling the younger members of the team as well.
The visitors thought they had the lead early on when winger Kynan Isaac’s shot was parried by Adam Harpur and Wall blasted the rebound home only to find the linesman’s flag raised.
Isaac was then teed up by Matt Robinson, but fired well over when faced by Harpur and striker Charlie Walker dragged off target.
Walker saw his angled drive saved by Harpur, while a lovely move had the striker in one on one, although he fired wastefeully into the car park.
It was soon Wall’s turn to miss a sitter as Lacey overlapped on the right and drilled in a low cross that the Town forward failed to connect with from six yards out.
He had another chance from the penalty spot on 23 minutes when Isaac’s cross was adjudged to have hit the hand of a sliding Eagles defender.
This time Wall made no mistake to open the scoring, despite Harpur getting a glove to his low effort.
Guttridge then crossed for Lacey to send a towering header over, while Harpur made a wonderful reaction save at point blank range to deny Mark Onyemah.
However, the Stotfold keeper was powerless to prevent Luton scoring just after the half hour mark as Wall dinked over a perfect cross for strike partner Walker to nod past him.
Hatters then threatened to run riot with two goals just before the interval as Walker bravely beat Harpur to a long ball and produced what is fast becoming a trademark lobbed finish.
Three became four in the flash of an eye as Stotfold’s heads dropped and Luton sliced through the defence with ease, Onyemah tucking home from a tight angle.
To their credit, the SML side improved after the break as it looked like Luton would run up a cricket score, while Lacey was withdrawn for Luke Trotman to continue his comeback from a broken leg.
Leeroy Maguraushe also came on for the hobbling Isaac, but Stotfold tightened up considerably at the back, even starting to frustrate their opponents.
Harpur was called upon to make fine double stop from Guttridge and then Walker’s follow-up as he couldn’t complete a hat-trick.
The keeper was powerless to prevent Guttridge finally getting on the scoresheet though as he picked his spot from 18 yards to curl into the corner.
Town’s midfielder was also denied by the post in the latter stages with Harpur well beaten, as he will now surely be in contention for a place on the bench against former club Cambridge United this weekend.
Stotfold: Adam Harpur, Luke Holt, Reese Lowden, Shaun Hall, Harry Orr, Ryan Ellis (C), Charlie Joy, Jake Irish, Adam Pennington, Greg Bates, Kieran Boyd.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey (Luke Trotman 46), Tom Gardiner, Fraser Franks, Mark Onyemah, Daril Ngwala (Osamu Allman 60), Matt Robinson, Luke Guttridge, Kynan Isaac (Leeroy Maguraushe 47), Alex Wall, Charlie Walker.