Millwall defeat a real learning curve for Town’s teenage back-line

Hatters boss Nathan Jones watches on against Millwall
Hatters boss Nathan Jones watches on against Millwall

Hatters boss Nathan Jones believes that Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Millwall will provide a valuable lesson for both centre halves Akin Famewo and Frankie Musonda.

The teenage duo had looked composed once more at the back for Luton, with the hosts leading 1-0 through Shaun Hutchinson’s own goal, until the introduction of striker Fred Onyedinma just after the hour mark.

The biggest thing is the aerial threat and they’re going to have to learn to come up against that if they want a career.

Nathan Jones

It was the substitute who drew the Lions level, before lanky forward Harry Smith notched twice in the final 10 minutes, with his first goals in senior football, as Luton struggled to contain the pair.

Jones said: “Tonight’s been a real good learning curve, especially for our two centre halves.

“They’ve come up against a real big, direct, real threat, which at our level they’re going to come up against, so they’re going to need to handle that if they want a career.

“That’s probably the first time they’ve come up against that type of threat, and the boy will cause a lot of problems for a lot of defenders, so it’s a good exercise for us.”

Smith’s second goal came when he was left completely unmarked from a free kick to easily head past Craig King, as Jones continued: “That’s the thing, it’s a free header and he’s being marked, he’s stronger, he’s bigger, we have to find a way, young Frankie has to find a way.

“It’s a big job marking him, he’s probably six inches bigger than him, but he has to find a way to defend that as that’s what results are all about.

“You find a way to keep clean sheets, even when the odds are against you and that’s what a career’s about and he will learn from that, that’s a good thing.

“We needed a bit more nous, we lacked a little bit of experience, just to settle down and to see the game out, but we didn’t do that.

“Late on they had a few opportunities, especially when they put it in our box, and we didn’t quite see it out and that’s the learning curve, because we’ve had a young back four.

“Tey’re all teenagers, three of the back four are 17, 18, 19 and (Stephen) O’Donnell’s only 24 himself, so it’s a very young back four.

Despite the defeat, Jones was pleased with the way his side went about their evening’s work once more, with progression to the next stage already secured.

He added: “I thought for large periods we were excellent, I really did.

“We probably could have had a bit more cutting edge first half, but I thought some of our play was superb and we competed with a young side, so9 I’m pleased on the whole, just disappointed we lost.”