Nelson nets stunning free kick with Braney on target again as Luton U21s defeat Cherries U21s
Zack Nelson scored a stunning free kick, while Tobias Braney was on target once more as Luton Town's Development squad ran out impressive 3-1 winners against Bournemouth U21s at Kenilworth Road this evening.
The hosts gave senior keeper Matt Macey some valuable minutes following Harry Isted's inclusion on the bench for the first team in recent games, with Town up against a strong opposition side that included Emi Marcondes, the Danish midfielder scoring for the Cherries in their 3-2 defeat on this venue in the Championship last season, plus England U21 defender James Hill.
Luton went close first, skipper Casey Pettit drilling wide from 25 yards, as Adrian Forbes’ side started brightly, Conor Lawless finding the run of Josh Williams, who shot straight at keeper Billy Terrell, Nelson whistling over the top too.
Striker Braney, who scored a last minute winner the last time Town's youngsters took the Kenilworth Road pitch, then set off from inside his own half and with precious few options ahead of him, saw his left footer comfortable saved by Terrell.
Bournemouth grew into the game themselves, Dom Sadi's attempt to pick out the top corner not missing by much, before the visitors, who were keen to play their way out of dangerous situations, had their pocket picked by Braney, who sliced his attempt behind.
Midway though the half, strike partner Josh Allen had a glorious opportunity, when found 10 yards from goal, but he could only shoot straight at Terrell who parried away.
Town defender Ben Tompkins made an excellent sliding intervention to turn a dangerous cross over the bar rather than into his own goal, as Luton finished the half strongly, Nelson denied by a good block after some fine trickery, with Braney sent away on the left, Terrell pawing his first time attempt behind.
The Hatters then took the lead on the stroke of half time when Allen was brought down on a foray forward some 25 yards from goal and Nelston stepped up to whip a superb free kick into the top corner, giving Terrell no chance at all.
After the interval, Town had a wonderful opportunity to double their lead straight away when Allen took a tumble inside the box with referee Chris Howes awarding a penalty.
The forward dusted himself down to take the spot-kick, only to see Terrell dive to his right to save, also denying Allen from the rebound too.
Macey then had to stand up tall to deny the previously quiet Marcondes, Luton getting men back to charge the rebound down as well, before Avan Jones fizzed a cross in from the right, Braney volleying wide.
Luton did have the second on 58 minutes, when Nelson turned provider with an exquisite touch inside the box, finding Braney, who still had plenty to do, but did it expertly, getting the ball out of his feet and locating the bottom corner.
A third arrived on 65 minutes and it was a disaster for those of a Cherries persuasion, defender Chris Francis trying to find Terrell while under pressure, but could only end up passing it into his own net with the keeper out of position.
The underworked Macey then had to claim a late header as the Cherries sought a consolation, which they had with five minutes to go in terrific style, Marcondes sending a superb crossfield ball for Ben Greenwood, who cut back on to his supposedly weaker right foot and bent a beautiful effort into the far corner.
In stoppage time, Town sub Millar Matthews-Lewis went to ground with what looked a serious leg injury, as the full time whistle was blown to allow the attacker to receive further treatment, the youngster eventually stretchered off, in what was a sour end to the evening for the Hatters.
Hatters: Matt Macey, Avan Jones (Jacob Pinnington 73), Josh Williams, Conor Lawless, Ben Tompkins, Casey Pettit (C), Tyrelle Newton (Archie Heron 80), Jayden Luker, Josh Allen (Oli Lynch 80), Zack Nelson, Tobias Braney (Millar Matthews-Lewis 64).
Subs not used: Sam Bentley, Trialist.
Bournemouth U21s: Billy Terrell, Finn Tonks (Trialist 46), Ben Greenwood, Emi Marcondes, James Hill, Chris Francis, Josh Popoola, Matt Burgess (Marcus Daws 72), Euan Pollock (Trialist B 60), Dom Sadi, Noa Boutin.
Subs not used: Ollie Camis, Ferdi Okoh.
Booked: Williams 20, Lawless 90.