The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By John Lyons

THE Check­a­trade Tro­phy took a pan­ning from the crit­ics in mid­week – but one 15-year-old will al­ways have a soft spot for the com­pe­ti­tion. Lu­ton Town teenager Con­nor Tom­lin­son came off the bench in in­jury time in the Hat­ters’ 2-1 win at Gilling­ham on Tues­day night – mak­ing him the club’s youngest ever player. The Hat­ters even had to ask per­mis­sion from Tom­lin­son’s head­teacher at Har­ling­ton Up­per School to play in the game – and it paid off with his last­gasp in­tro­duc­tion. De­lighted Lu­ton boss Nathan Jones, who put out a youth­ful line-up against the Gills, said: “It’s the best de­ci­sion that head­mas­ter has ever made! “I was pray­ing we would have a two-goal lead in in­jury-time so I could give him his de­but, but then Gilling­ham scored. “How­ever, I de­cided it


was too good an op­por­tu­nity for him.

“He’s been a real bright spark in train­ing and I doubt if he’ll for­get tonight in a hurry.”

Com­pe­ti­tion rules say EFL clubs must play a min­i­mum of five ‘first team’ play­ers in the start­ing XI, but the League Two side put out a team of kids against Gilling­ham and are fac­ing the prospect of a £5,000 fine, though they did pocket £10,000 for win­ning the match.

Re­mark­ably, 14 play­ers who came through the Ke­nil­worth Road club’s youth sys­tem were in Lu­ton’s 18-strong squad for the match.

And Jones be­lieves it would be un­fair to pun­ish Lu­ton af­ter their rook­ies beat their League One op­po­nents to make a win­ning start in Group H.

“I don’t want the club to get fined, but it seems ridicu­lous that could hap­pen bear­ing in mind we’ve played 11 young, tal­ented English play­ers with five de­buts and we made his­tory with a 15-year-old,” he said.

“We won against a very good Gilling­ham side, and it shows we have re­cruited well and the young boys are ready.

“It was a glo­ri­ous evening for Lu­ton Town and it seems there’s some­thing wrong if we are go­ing to get fined.”


FRESH-FACED: Star­let Con­nor Tom­lin­son ap­plauds the fans af­ter his sub ap­pear­ance GET­TING SHIRTY: The jer­seys of Lu­ton’s young guns

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