Collins nets twice and Hylton on target as Luton beat City

James Collins heads home his first goal of the afternoon
James Collins heads home his first goal of the afternoon

Pre-season friendly: Welwyn Garden City 1 Luton 3

A first half double by James Collins and Danny Hylton's late strike saw Graeme Jones get his Luton Town reign off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory at Southern League Division One Central side Welwyn Garden City this afternoon.

The Hatters went with a strong side for the first period, summer additions Ryan Tunnicliffe and Callum McManaman both starting, while Matty Pearson and Sonny Bradley continued their central defensive partnership, while Harry Isted got the nod in goal.

Town always looked stronger as expected from the first whistle, Dan Potts' effort deflecting over and then Pearson unable to get enough on his header from a corner.

Collins was then denied by a stunning save from Connor Sansom, as he met McManaman's cross first time, hammering goalwards only for the home keeper to somehow turn it over the bar via his fingertips.

Striker Jake Jervis then went close, as he stooped to meet another McManaman delivery, the winger now popping up on the left flank, the forward glancing narrowly wide of the target.

Town were in front on 16 minutes though as Potts sent over a fine cross from the left and Collins was there to thump his stooping header beyond Sansom.

Luton's top scorer from last term almost doubled the advantage from further out, his curling attempt not missing by much.

He did make it 2-0 on 26 minutes, as a ball over the top saw Stacey beat Sansom virtually on the by-line and his cross was turned in from a few yards out by the lurking Town striker.

McManaman's 20-yarder was easily handled by Sansom, as the summer signing gave an impressive opening 45 minutes in a Luton shirt, always eager to get at his man and create an opportunity for his team-mates.

Shortly before the break, the hosts, who had barely got out of their half after the opening five minutes, pulled one back.

Although Town didn't clear their lines sufficiently, there was no doubting the quality of former Luton midfielder Ian Rees' finish, volleying into the bottom corner from just outside the box.

Jones rang the change for the second period, with new signings Martin Cranie and Brendan Galloway featuring, along with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Danny Hylton and Elliot Lee.

Hylton nearly made it 3-1, when George Moncur's corner was met by Lloyd Jones, with Hylton nodding goalwards, sub keeper Charlie Jones flicking over the bar.

Moncur's snapshot was then gathered by Jones, while both Hylton and Jones couldn't quite stretch in time to turn in the midfielder's dangerous delivery.

Galloway, who also caught the eye with his efforts to get up and down on the left flank from full back, somehow couldn't turn in Cornick's low cross, while Cornick was off target with an angled drive.

With eight minutes left, the Hatters had the goal they had been threatening all half, Mpanzu finding Hylton and he eased past his defender, before coolly slotting past Jones.

Hatters first half: Harry Isted, Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Dan Potts, Luke Berry, Andrew Shinnie, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jake Jervis, Callum McManaman, James Collins.

Second half: James Shea, Josh Neufville, Lloyd Jones, Corey Panter, Brendan Galloway, Martin Cranie, George Moncur, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Elliot Lee, Harry Cornick, Danny Hylton.

Welwyn starting line-up: Connor Sansom, Jay Rolfe, Conor Clarke, Dylan Ebengo, Carl Mensah, Lee Close, Brodie Carrington, Ian Rees, Ollie Carey, Dave Keenleyside (c), George Ironton

Attendance: 825.