Hatters win Beds Premier Cup on penalties

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Beds Premier Cup

Biggleswade Town 1 Luton Town 1 (Luton win 3-2 on penalties)

Luton Town picked up their first piece of silverware of the season with a penalty shootout victory over Southern League Premier Division side Biggleswade Town this evening, writes Mike Simmonds.

After the game had finished 1-1 with substitute Zane Banton netting for Hatters, it was Luton who held their nerve during the spotkicks, as keeper Ben Barnes saved twice, while Lee Allinson fired over to ensure Town had their name on the cup.

Although Town boss John Still had intimated the likes of transfer-listed duo Scott Rendell and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner might get a game, neither did, with Luton’s team made up mainly of youth teamers and trialists taking the field.

The most impressive of the new faces was midfielder Aman Verma, 26, on the books of Leicester City as a youngster and who had recently been with Maltese Premier League club Floriana.

Central defender Graham Hutchison, who was at Lincoln before earning a move to then Premier League club Birmingham also featured, as did former Norwich City youngster, striker Dominic St Louis.

With a gleaming cup up for grabs, Town made their intentions known from the off as Jim Stevenson slid in with a rash challenge on Brett Donnelly, with the pair booked after the Waders man retaliated.

A lively start from the hosts saw Deekan Napier nutmeg JJ O’Donnell, but his cross shot was blocked, while Waders skipper Steven Gentle nodded against the bar.

Town didn’t really get going in the opening half an hour, although Verma looked assured in possession and eager to keep things ticking over in the middle of the park.

Charlie Smith then started to show his box of tricks, wriggling away and seeing a blast charged down, while from the rebound, Jake Woolley’s swivel and drive forced a smart save from Sam Wyer.

Waders quickly made five changes with half an hour gone, on a night where rolling substitutes were allowed.

Town keeper Ben Barnes was called into action, parrying low down from Alex Witham, before clasping another daisycutter from Callum Lewis.

With time ticking down to the break, Stevenson almost opened the scoring, only to send his snapshot sailing over.

The deadlock was broken just minutes after half time as Dubi Ogbonna wreaked havoc on the right flank and his pinpoint cross was thrashed home on the volley by Witham.

Town then made four changes on the hour with Zac Stephens, Banton, Arel Amu and Inda Aujil all coming on.

The move paid dividends immediately as with the extra impetus Luton were level when O’Donnell’s delightful cross was deftly volleyed into the net by Banton with virtually his first touch.

Fellow sub Amu then almost scored with a screamer, but his dipping piledriver from fully 25 yards left Wyer a spectator but cannoned against the bar and out again as Jake Woolley made a mess of the rebound.

Hatters then were robbed of what looked a legitimate goal with Woolley collectinh a one-two and rolling his shot into the bottom corner, only to see the offside flag raised.

An exciting finale saw Smith’s neat effort come back off the post, while Banton’s skimming drive was well handled by Wyer.

Biggleswade also finished strongly, with Joel Mason inches away from a low cross, while Witham could have won it with virtually the last kick, but hammered against the post.

That meant penalties as ax York netted for Waders, with O’Donnell replying, before Kevin Kilroy and Indu Aujil both saw their efforts saved.

Callum Lewis and Charlie Smith traded successful finishes, before Barnes blocked Mason’s low attempt with his trailing leg.

Banton sent Wyer the wrong way and Allinson’s Andre Pirlo attempt didn’t pay off as he scooped over the bar, meaning it was Luton who were crowned champions.

Waders: Sam Wyer, Max York, Andrew Iwediuno, Kevin Kilroy, Steven Gentle, Lee Allinson, Craig Daniel, Luke Knight, Brett Donnelly, Deekan Napier, Joel Mason.

Subs: Cam Mawer, Mark Coulson, Dubi Ogbonna, Callum Lewis, Alex Witham.

Hatters: Ben Barnes, Brett Longden, JJ O’Donnell, Alex Lacey (Zac Stephens 60), Graham Hutchison, James Stevenson (Indi Aujila), Ian Rees (Charlie Smith 80), Aman Verma, Jake Woolley, Dominic St Louis (Zane Banton 60), Charlie Smith (Arel Amu 60).

Sub not used: Adam Whybrow.

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