After a weekend away, the Hatters returned to pre-season action with a comfortable victory away at Colne, in a game that marked the return of the Blue & White Army.
With teams from step three and below allowed to host fans for pre-season friendlies, a total of 400 spectators were in attendance for the game, a strong portion of which consisted of the travelling County fans.
Despite a strong start to the game, it looked like the Hatters would be frustrated going in at the break, before two quick-fire goals right on half-time proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Manager Jim Gannon named an unchanged XI from the 1-0 victory over Salford City in our last game game, with the Hatters again lining up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Ritchie Bennett and Jordan Williams forming a front two, with Connor Jennings supporting behind them.
Alex Curran was named on the bench on his return to the Club where he enjoyed a successful two year spell, where he was also joined by Sam Minihan, who returned from injury after missing the previous two games.
County enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening exchanges, with John Rooney and Lois Maynard dominating the midfield, and it was the former with the game’s first real chance, as he cut inside before unleashing a dipping strike that the Colne goalkeeper Burton did well to palm over the bar.
Bennett and Williams continued to link up well, reforming the partnership they formed together at both Northwich and Barrow, and the latter should have opened the scoring on 17 minutes, only to see his header blocked from point-blank range by Burton, after Bennett found him with an inch-perfect cross.
It was the same combination again moments later that almost provided the breakthrough – Bennett with the cut-back, but Williams’ first-time effort was lashed over the crossbar.
Up the other end and it took an alert piece of defending to Liam Hogan to deny the hosts a shock lead, the County skipper chasing back to clear off the line, after Samizadeh had managed to beat Ben Hinchliffe to the ball.
Just as Colne looked to be getting a foot-hold in the game, County struck; Adam Thomas’ low ball into the box hacked into his own goal at the near post by an unfortunate Colne trialist.
The game had barely restarted before the Hatters had the ball in the back of the net again, and again it was Thomas with the decisive contribution, getting on the end of Jamie Stott’s cross to send a looping header into the corner to give County breathing space at the break.
Half-time: Colne 0-2 County (Trialist O.G., 41’; Thomas, 41’).
There were eight second-half changes at the break as manager Jim Gannon shuffled his pack, which included an appearance for Curran, who was warmly received by the home fans.
With those two goals just before the break taking the sting out of the game somewhat, chances were at a premium in the second 45 – Harvey Gilmour coming the closest for County, bending a free-kick over the wall, but narrowly over the bar with the ‘keeper beaten.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Hatters though, and goalkeeper Josh Barnes, who signed a one-year-deal at the Club earlier this week, had to be alert to palm a stinging low effort around the post as Colne looked to give their fans something to shout about.
Ultimately, however, County held out to record back-to-back pre-season victories without conceding a goal, as pre-season preparations gather pace, and the start of the season looms large in the distance.
Full-time: Colne 0-2 County (Trialist O.G., 41’; Thomas, 41’).
County starting line-up: Hinchliffe, Thomas, Stott, Palmer, Hogan, J Jennings, Maynard, Rooney, C Jennings, Williams, Bennett.
Second-half team: Barnes, Minihan, Palmer, Hogan, Kitching, Keane, Gilmour, Trialist, Curran, Reid, Bell.
Match Report: Liam Richardson
Photographer: Lana Bradburn