Luton Town stole a last gasp winner against Kempston Rovers as the two sides treated fans to a goal-fest.
Football was back in Kempston for the first time this summer ahead of the new season as Rovers raised their curtain against a side sent from the county’s biggest team, Luton Town.
Town, having just been promoted to the championship, gave the chance for their academy players to show what they had to offer.
Their line up contained five under sixteen players, which academy coach Paul Benson said was “perfect experience for them” to be involved in such a competitive game.
Rovers named three trialists in their starting line up with a further four coming off the bench in the second half.
Two raced into an early two goal lead thanks to a brace from Coree Wilson inside the opening eight minutes, both times capitalising on defensive lapses from Rovers to tap home.
Kempston were given a boost in the twenty second minute as a missed defensive header from Matt Moloney allowed one of Rovers’ trialists to finish neatly from the edge of the box with his left foot.
The Luton players had the edge in the game on technical ability but their tender ages meant that Rovers had the upper hand physically, something that Luton tried too hard to match.
Just before half time, a free kick flighted into the box from a wide position resulted in Rovers being awarded a penalty for holding in the area.
Ben Shepherd duly dispatched the spot kick low to the right hand side, sending Harry Isted in the Town goal the wrong way. Two all at the break.
At the break, Rovers made nine changes to their line up, leaving only Alfie Powell and Jordan Wright from the starting eleven on the field.
It was Powell who went close to giving Kempston the lead in the opening minute of the second half, meeting a right wing corner with a powerful header but not being able to beat Isted in the Hatters goal.
Moments later, Coree Wilson was given time to turn in the Rovers box before a bobbling shot found its way into the corner of the net to restore Luton’s lead and complete his hat-trick.
The lead lasted barely five minutes; as from a throw in, Kye Andrews burst into the area controlling the ball first on his chest, then thigh, before rocketing a volley into the net from a tight angle before Isted had time to react.
With Luton beginning to make substitutions and Rovers taking advantage of rolling subs, the pace and flow of the game became disrupted as the game looked to be heading to a deserved draw.
Nathan Tshikuna, playing his first game for Rovers since a muscle injury sustained away at Bedford Town back in March, saw a late free kick curl just wide of the post, which would have nicked a narrow win for the hosts. Instead it was the visitors who had the last laugh.
Rovers substitute keeper Ryan Thrussell produced a great save to deny Luton, but his parry fell perfectly for the advancing Tra Lucas to stab home the loose ball to win the game with the last kick.
Kempston continue their pre-season preparations next weekend away at Milton Keynes Robins, formerly Buckingham Town.
Before then, the reserves play host to Cranfield United on Thursday night with a 7:45 kick off.
Words: Matthew Wilmot