FA Trophy second round
Luton Town 4 (1) Uxbridge 0 (0)
YOUTHFUL Luton showed the future is extremely bright as they eased into the last 16 of the FA Trophy with a comprehensive win at Kenilworth Road today.
The Hatters were on top throughout and triumphed thanks to braces from Taiwo Atieno and Adam Watkins, his first senior goals for the club, but it could have been many more as they peppered the Reds goal for the whole 90 minutes.
It was all change for Luton following Tuesday night’s Blue Square Bet Premier goalless draw at AFC Wimbledon.
Only three players involved in that game were named in Town’s side, Mark Tyler captaining them from between the sticks, midfielder Alex Lawless playing at right-back and Jason Walker leading the line with Atieno.
Among a raft of youngsters drafted in there was a debut for Christian Tavernier on the right wing.
The visitors put in some crunching tackles in the opening stages and both sides whipped in some testing crosses before Town almost took the lead with the most outrageous of attempts.
Atieno’s touch from just inside his own half fell nicely for Walker and the former Barrow man spotted Michael Plwonski well off his line and let fly with a fabulous effort that drifted just wide.
Some lovely skill from JJ O’Donnell saw him nutmeg Gavin Brown moments later and a clumsy challenge from the right-back saw him earn the first yellow card of the afternoon.
Watkins, who had impressed in recent weeks at Uxbridge’s Zamaretto Southern League Division One Central rivals Arlesey Town, had an effort well blocked by Brown before Luton took a deserved lead on 18 minutes.
A lightning break from a corner saw Atieno clear to Godfrey Poku who ate up the ground in the middle before sliding Atieno clean through. And the Kenyan international kept his cool to fire home low past Plwonski.
And it was almost two midway through the half has Luton put together the best move of the game. Lawless pulled Poku’s pass back to Watkins and he laid a lovely ball into the path of Tavernier who was desperately unlucky to see his curler come back off the bar and out.
Atieno’s cross was then just too high for Lawless before Tavernier was booked for a reckless challenge, although in the light of several beefy Uxbridge tackles this seemed rather harsh.
The Reds began to work their way back into it and Chris Moore twice went close for the visitors in a matter of seconds. The former Brentford and Dagenham & Redbridge man headed wide on the half hour mark before getting the better of Alex Lacey and dragging his shot inches wide.
Another fine Hatters move almost brought their second on 36 minutes. O’Donnell’s telling cross picked out the onrushing Atieno but Plwonski threw out a foot to save his side-footed effort.
Walker fired comfortably into Plwonski’s midriff before another Lacey mistake let Moore in but he blazed well over.
An injury forced Lacey off just before the break as Town proceeded to play with 10 men.
A Watkins blast was well held by Plwonski before the Reds almost levelled a minute before the break. With a lack of numbers at the back at the back Andre Costa was allowed to tease in a lovely cross but danger man Moore headed straight at Tyler.
Watkins and Lawless combined well in the dying minutes but the former York man’s shot was blocked, while Atieno’s late strike was straight at Plwonski.
Young striker Cauley Woodrow was plunged into the action for Walker at the break and Poku whizzed over in the opening moments of the second half.
An unmarked Atieno then thumped a header narrowly over from Tavernier’s corner before he headed down a free-kick that Watkins could only loop over.
A dangerous Lawless cross somehow zipped across the Uxbridge goal without finding a taker before a long-range Dean Clark free-kick forced a good save out of Tyler on 65 minutes and O’Donnell zipped just wide.
But Luton did double their lead on 68 minutes from the spot. Substitute Alasan Ann, making his debut for the club, fed Atieno and as he turned in the box Brown pulled him back and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. And Watkins kept his cool to blast low into the bottom left-hand corner for his first senior Hatters goal.
Some neat interplay from the hosts ended with Watkins forcing a good low save from his daisycutter on 71 minutes before O’Donnell hit straight at the Reds stopper.
Atieno lashed well over with 16 minutes to go before Lawless fed Woodrow who drove straight at Plwonski.
Good work from O’Donnell then put Atieno in with 12 minutes to go and the big striker made no mistake with a left-footed drive into the bottom right-hand corner.
And the fourth promptly followed two minutes later when Woodrow teed up Watkins in the box and the young midfielder confidently drove home his second of the day.
Atieno just missed out on a hat-trick when he couldn’t connect with Ann’s cross, while some lovely work by Watkins, Atieno and Lawless ended with Woodrow ballooning over the bar.
On a hat-trick Atieno prodded wide in the closing stages but it counted for little as Luton took another step closer to Wembley.
Hatters: Mark Tyler (C), Taiwo Atieno, Alex Lawless, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Pavel Besta, Jason Walker (Cauley Woodrow 46), Alex Lacey (Newman Carney 45+1), Godfrey Poku, JJ O’Donnell, Adam Watkins, Christian Tavernier (Alasan Ann 61). Substitutes not used: Jordan Patrick, Michael Cain.
Reds: Michael Plwonski, Gavin Brown (Mohamed Hashi 79), Dave Thomas, Robert Fitzgerald, Mark Dennison, Wayne Carter (C, Thomas Howe 76), Andre Costa, Kevin Warner, Dean Clark, Chris Moore, Criage Tomkins (Stuart Farrell 66) S Martin. Substitutes not used: Matthew Burton.
Booked: Brown 14; Tavernier 25; Moore 53; Asafu-Adjaye 64; Farrell 84.
Referee: S Martin.
Assistant referees: T Hollidge and M Bingham.
Fourth official: S Phipps.
Attendance: 1,958 (Uxbridge 140).
Star Hatter: Adam Watkins. Back with a bang.