Late drama as U18s earn Luton draw
Connor Kurran-Browne nets late on to seal a point for Cherries' U18s against Luton at Canford Arena.
Luton, who began the day just two points above the Cherries, took the lead midway through the first half when Connor Tomlinson profited from Toby Byron’s brilliant solo run.
Chances were few and far between for Bournemouth, but Connor Kurran-Browne made one count with minutes to spare, giving his side another precious point.
On a wet and windy afternoon at Canford Park Arena, Alan Connell was forced into making an early change when an injury to Tarik Gidaree meant the full-back could not carry on. Aaron Roberts slotted in at right-back with just 13 minutes played.
Luton were dominant in possession and made it count with their first real chance, Byron showing great footwork to chop inside from the left-wing and put the ball on a plate for Tomlinson to toe poke into the far corner.
The Cherries, who had lost four of their past five league fixtures, found themselves on the back foot again and struggled to create any real chances in the first half.
There was no immediate sign of that changing as Luton continued to hint at increasing their lead when Josh Allen saw a shot from distance trickle just wide.
Cherries goalkeeper Will Dennis made a fine save to keep his side in the game, tipping a Josh Boorn shot over the crossbar from close range.
Still only one goal behind, a Cherries revival could not be ruled out, but sloppy passing in the middle of the pitch allowed Luton to keep control of the game.
That was until the 89th minute when a well-timed Nathan Moriah-Welsh sliding tackle in Bournemouth’s half set the men in red and black charging forward. Kurran-Browne picked out Euan Pollock on the left wing, who precisely darted the ball back at Kurran-Browne, allowing the latter to caress it into the bottom right corner.
There wasn’t enough time for either side to find a late winner, leaving Bournemouth at the foot of the table in 12th, three points behind Portsmouth in seventh.
Speaking to afcb.co.uk after the game, Under-18s manager Alan Connell had this to say on the following topics…
Earning another point
“Getting a result out of the game is relatively important because we’ve lost a few recently. We started quite well, but conceding an early goal set us back and that’s been a re-occurring theme lately.
“We lost our way after that and there was a lack of forward runs and sprinting in our play. We just looked a little bit slow and predictable. That’s not what the philosophy of this club is. I had to tell the boys at half-time that it wasn’t the level we expect.
“Likewise, if we’re getting pressed while trying to play out, the expectation isn’t then that we change what we do. We stick to it and the boys have got to take that responsibility on and be good enough to find a way out.
“I thought there was more urgency in our play in the second-half. We had more intensity and made more forward runs, which gave Luton problems. We weren’t at our fluent best, but scored a late equaliser through a nice team goal.
“The goal had all the aspects we were missing in the first half – forward runs, a change of pace in attack. We defended okay in general. Overall, it wasn’t at the level I expect, but the second half was better.”
“Bringing Euan Pollock on on the hour-mark helped because he’s a natural striker who’s got good movement in forward areas. He stretched Luton a little bit more, and his forward run created the goal for Connor Kurran-Browne.
“He’s made a good impact and he’s playing with us more and more now so I’m looking forward to working with him full-time come July.”
“I reminded the boys at half-time about the amount of times the youth team have come back this season from behind, as well as the history of the club and all the hurdles it has overcome in recent years to be where we are today.
“It felt important to remind the players of those challenges we’ve had. The attitude and the never-say-die spirit is vital; it always has been and always will be.”
“Tarik’s gone for an X-ray. I think it’s more of a precautionary one, but it was a shame for him to come off so early. Aaron Roberts stepped up from the under-16s and acquitted himself really well at right-back, so he can be pleased with his efforts.”
“We’re playing Arsenal away in a friendly on Thursday, so for us that will be mostly under-17s and maybe some under-18s. Then, on Saturday, we’re away at Stevenage in the league, so between the first and second years there will be plenty of game time.
“They will be two tough, totally different games, so we’re just trying to give the players different experiences to give them the best chance moving forward.”
The AFC Bournemouth Under-18s side are sponsored by Strategic Solutions.