Thurrock 2 Luton Town 4
A second half fightback saw Luton Town sign off their pre-season campaign with a 4-2 win at Ryman League Division One North side Thurrock this evening, writes Mike Simmonds.
Town had been trailing 2-1 at the break, before goals from Zane Banton, Ollie Hughes and Matt Robinson were enough to secure victory.
As expected, Hatters named a young side for their final pre-season clash, although did include Anthony Charles and Danny Fitzsimons in central defence as the pair stepped up their match fitness.
Trialists Jake Hall and Hughes got another chance to impress, while former Millwall midfielder Jack Sammoutis, a Cyrpus youth international, started alongside Robinson.
Hatters took the lead on just four minutes though, when the unmarked Brett Longden found himself 30 yards from goal and with the ball sitting up perfectly, arrowed a blockbuster past the startled Reece Ottley into the roof of the net.
Alex Wall then blasted a free kick from 20 yards, which Ottley did well to parry, before Jerome Jibodu fashioned a good cross that Hughes headed off target.
Charles was next to come close, unusually left one-on-one with the keeper after Sammoutis had won the ball on edge of the area, only to see his toe poke saved.
Wall had another shot easily stopped by Ottley, before Thurrock came close as former Luton defender Rob Gilman’s hooked volley was only narrowly over Ben Barnes’ bar.
Hughes’ low drive flashed wide but Town had to reshuffle when Wall went down twice in quick succession, the second time appearing to injure his hip as young strikerBanton came on.
It was 1-1 on 35 minutes though when Thurrock kept possession well inside Luton’s area and Lewis Perkins was teed up to rifle low past Barnes from 18 yards.
The Fleet then had the lead five minutes later punishing further poor Town defending as Perkins was on hand to divert the ball beyond Barnes once more.
The hosts had the bit between their teeth, cutting through Town’s backpedalling rearguard with the ball worked wide to Loui Hazelwood who one on one with Barnes, curled goalwards, with the keeper appearing to get a vital touch, even though a goal kick was awarded.
In the second period, Hatters had a good early chance as Banton’s shot fell into the path of Robinson, but his aim was wayward when well placed.
Town did level on 53 minutes with another lovely finish from Banton once more, who gave further evidence he could develop into quite a find at Kenilworth Road. Fine work from Hall saw the forward show great awareness to dump his marker on the floor and then nonchalantly fire past Ottley.
JJ O’Donnell beat his man with some clever skill and his drilled cross deflected up off a Thurrock defender and just about kept out by Ottley.
The hosts almost had the lead once more when Charlie Stimson dummied two Town players but Barnes was out quickly to block and Fitszimsons hacked the loose ball off the line.
Hall tried his luck from distance, seeing his shot ungainly kept out by Ottley, with the corner somehow prodded wide by Fitzsimons from a yard out.
With Luton regaining the ascendancy, they had a third with a lovely team goal as Hall found Banton and he weighed up his options before intelligently crossing for Hughes who showed great movement to finish confidently first time.
Town wrapped up the scoring late on too, Banton playing another vital role, setting up Robinson, who found the bottom corner with a low left-footed drive.
Thurrock: Reece Ottley, Connor Mackay, Mark Onyemah, Lewis Clark, Rob Gilman, Brad Warner, Callum Ibe, Lewwis Spence, Jon Nouble, Lewis Perkins, Loui Hazelwood.
Subs: Jordan Clark, Charlie Stimson, James Goode, Danny Ramens, Aaron Green.
Luton Town: Ben Barnes, Brett Longden, Jerome Jibodu, Danny Fitzsimons, Anthony Charles, Jake Hall, Jack Sammoutis (Amor Cibwabbna 63), Matt Robinson, Ollie Hughes, Alex Wall (Zane Banton 32), JJ O’Donnell (Ian Rees 78).
Subs not used: Tinashe Chabata, Arnaud Mendy, Craig King.