Final Third Development League: Luton Town 3 AFC Wimbledon 2
Luton Town picked up only their second win of the Final Third Development League season with a 3-2 triumph over AFC Wimbledon U21s at Hitchin Town’s ground this afternoon.
The Hatters, who sit bottom of the Final Third Development League South table, survived a late scare against a strong Dons’ outfit, but it was goals from Alex Atkinson, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and James Justin that were the difference in an entertaining affair.
Ruddock Mpanzu was the stand out inclusion in the starting line-up as the 23-year-old, who was on the bench for Town’s 1-0 defeat against Crawley on Saturday, was one of a handful of first team squad members selected, alongside Magnus Okuonghae, Elliot Justham and Zane Banton.
Recently turned pros Justin and Tareeq Bakinson were also involved, along with Charlton Athletic loanee Joe Pigott too, plus a number of members of Town’s talented U18 players.
Dons U21s coach Alan Reeves named five players in his squad who featured on the bench for the first-team’s defeat at Morecambe on Saturday as Daniel Gallagher, Paul Kalambayi, David Fitzpatrick, Callum Kennedy and goalscorer Azeez all started for the visitors.
A strong first-half performance from the Hatters gave them the initiative and they struck first through Atkinson.
The youngster headed home Luke Trotman’s first-time cross after just seven minutes despite ferocious appeals for offside from the Dons’ back-line.
The more experienced visitors began moving the ball well in midfield on a sluggish pitch as Azeez showed a good turn of pace to lose Magnus Okuonghae, before directing his header wide at the near post.
Joe Pigott’s nimble footwork saw him dazzle his way past four Dons’ defenders, only for visiting keeper Will Mannion to produce a good one-on-one save.
Striker Azeez was on hand to level proceedings in the 25th minute though as he bundled home at the near post.
The Hatters almost retook the lead as Mannion’s punch from Pigott’s cross finished on the roof of the net, but they did have the advantage again with 11 minutes of the first-half remaining, Ruddock Mpanzu calmly slotting home Justin’s pass.
In the second half, Okuonghae could have put the game to bed as he powered his volley from an unmarked position at the edge of the box wide of the target.
Two minutes later, Justham pulled off a superb save low to his left to keep Azeez’ close-range header at bay and Justin looked to have sealed all three points with his glancing header from Atkinson’s pinpoint cross on 74 minutes.
However, Trotman bundled Fitzpatrick to the ground inside the box with three minutes to go as Azeez stepped up to convert from the spot, but Luton held on for victory.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Luke Trotman, Cameron McJannet, Tyreeq Bakinson, Magnus Okuonghae, Akin Famewo, Alex Atkinson, James Justin, Joe Pigott (Isaac Galliford 62), Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu (Jack Snelus 62), Zane Banton.
Subs not used: Liam Gooch, Kavan Cotter, Kyran Mcghan-George.