YOUNG HAT TER’S MAGIC MOMENT
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