Pre-season friendly: Hitchin Town 0 Luton Town 0
Luton Town were held to a goalless draw by Southern League Premier Division side Hitchin Town in a nondescript friendly at Top Field this evening.
In front of an excellent gate of 1,661, Hatters could never really exert their expected dominance as they struggled to break down a dogged Canaries side who more than held their own at times.
Forward Craig Mackail-Smith impressed once more with his willingness to run the channels and on turning Hitchin’s defenders inside out on more than one occasion, gave further evidence of what an integral player he could be for Luton this season, if a permanent deal can be thrashed out.
The best two chances of the game fell to strike partner Josh McQuoid in the second period though, only to fire waywardly over both times.
Hatters picked a strong side once more, with Town supporters getting their first view of Scott Cuthbert, who completed 90 minutes, as did Dan Potts, Nathan Doyle and Mackail-Smith.
Full back Potts caught the eye throughout too, showing a lovely first touch and plenty of energy on the left hand side all evening.
Cameron McGeehan had an opening early on, hooking a volley into keeper Charlie Horlock’s grateful arms, but there was precious little in terms of goalmouth activity during the first half.
A great challenge from Potts prevented Jamie Arlick from a near certain goal after he had broken the challenge of Luke Wilkinson.
It took 25 minutes for the first real opportunity to emerge though as Mackail-Smith pounced on a defensive error, beat Alasan Ann and saw his low shot saved by Horlock.
Town started to finally up the pressure, with ex-Town youngster Ann charging down Potts’ low blast, and McGeehan’s curler drawing a fine save from Horlock at full stretch.
For the second half, Luton made six changes, as Turkish keeper Deniz Mehmet who was with West Ham as a youngster and then recently released by Kayserispor, took over from Elliot Justham.
Paddy McCourt and Mark O’Brien had run outs too, while a delightful crossfield ball from Nathan Doyle set Alex Lawless away and from his cross, Jonathan Smith scuffed at the keeper.
McCourt then seized upon a clearance and fed McQuoid who cut in from the right and thrashed well over the bar.
The former AFC Bournemouth forward went it alone soon afterwards, powering through the middle, but sub keeper Michael Johnson came out to deflect his effort away.
Mehmet then had his first feel of the ball, getting down low to stop Simon Martin’s drive, but went untested for the remainder of the evening.
Hatters fashioned some more opportunities in the latter stages and should have taken the lead from a quickly free kick routine.
McCourt played Lawless in on the right, cross was teed up by Mackail-Smith for McQuoid, who could only direct it over the top..
A chipped cross from Lawless then flicked up and on to the bar before being hooked off the line off the line by a covering defender, while Luton almost had a late winner, Scott Griffiths heading wide of the mark.
Town are back in action this weekend when they head to Peacehaven on Saturday.
Hatters: Elliot Justham (Deniz Mehmet 46), Stephen O’Donnell (Alex Lawless 46), Dan Potts, Scott Cuthbert, Steve McNulty (Mark O’Brien 46), Luke Wilkinson (Scott Griffiths 46), Cameron McGeehan (Jonathan Smith 46), Nathan Doyle, Luke Guttridge (Paddy McCourt 46), Josh McQuoid (Zane Banton 76), Craig Mackail-Smith.