4 observations as Luton Town U18s secure 3-1 FA Youth Cup victory over QPR
Luton Town U18s came from behind to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup via a 3-1 victory over QPR yesterday evening.
The R’s got off to the best possible start with just 45 seconds on the clock when Teddy Larence scruffily converted after a well-worked move from the West London club.
Responding excellently, the Hatters’ equaliser came in the seventh minute when Jake Burger intelligently flicked in from close range before Oli Lynch was on hand five minutes later to tap in from Jacob Pinnington’s cross.
Zack Nelson completed the scoring in the 72nd minute, coolly slotting in after good work from Millar Matthews-Lewis to play him in.
Here, are four observations made during last night’s exciting clash at Kenilworth Road…
Setting up in a diamond formation, which brought back memories of the first team’s 2018/19 League One-winning campaign, the Hatters broke out with pace and were very quick in their transitions.
Of course, Luton u18s manager Alan McCormack was a vital component during that title-winning season in the holding midfield role.
It was a system that allowed the Hatters to be aggressive and front-footed in the opening exchanges, whilst the flexibility of the system made it easier for them to drop in when Rangers were looking to level the tie at 2-1.
Absolutely cruising in the Youth Alliance League, the third tier of U18s level football, the Hatters have won 15 of their 16 league games this season, scoring 67 goals and conceding eight in the process.
This game against the R’s asked different questions of them with the West London outfit in the second tier of the u18 level pyramid, sitting fifth in the table.
Subsequently, this clash represented a different kind of game to what they have grown accustomed to but their game management has to be applauded.
Causing all sorts of chaos in the first half with their aggressive and structured approach out of possession and moving the ball between the thirds quickly and intelligently, the second half required a different approach.
QPR saw a lot more of the ball in the second half, with the Hatters dropping rather deep to cut off passing lines and ultimately a way back into the tie.
When Luton did win the ball back, they were a lot more direct in their play, testing Lynch’s physicality and the energy levels of Matthew-Lewis and Nelson.
Exciting pipeline of talent in the making
Given the fact that Luton have progressed up the leagues with speed over the last few years, it has been difficult for the academy to keep pace.
However, the current talent that lies within the U18s are at an exciting level and if this Championship season was to fizzle out, it would be no shock to see opportunities given to a couple of individuals on the first-team stage.
Nelson is one player who has been training with the first team in recent months, whilst Jayden Luker was recently named in a matchday squad in the FA Cup.
Both were extremely influential for the Hatters in the first half, whilst Lynch and Burger were also heavily involved in what was a fantastic opening half an hour.
Defence deserves a big shout out
Luton’s full-backs are very forward-thinking, with both Jacob Pinnington and Joe Johnson making vital contributions in an attacking capacity.
However, they both have the engine and determination to get back and ensure that their opponent will not succeed.
As for the two central defenders, Jack Bateson and Jacob Vickers, it was a very assured and mature display from the pair, who certainly had a difficult job in keeping the lively Rayan Kolli.
Not only were they dominant in their duels, the pair also displayed good levels of composure and a good passing range when in possession.