League Two: Luton Town 2 Wycombe Wanderers 3
Luton Town’s alarming slump shows no signs of ending as they were beaten by Wycombe Wanderers at the Prostate Cancer UK Stadium in front of the Sky cameras this evening.
The defeat was the Hatters’ fifth in a row, as their television nightmares continued, while they yet again failed to overturn a deficit after conceding first, as their hopes of a top three place have now completely evaporated.
Hatters boss John Still brought Paul Benson in for his first start since breaking his leg against Mansfield on November 29, to accompany Elliot Lee upfront, while Fraser Franks began in a three-man defence as Town switched to a 3-5-2 formation.
After preaching about cutting out defensive errors, Still would have been tearing his hair out as once more Town got off to the worst possible start when a corner was half cleared, fired back in, and deflected into the net by Sam Saunders.
Luton were level almost immediately though as from a corner of their own, Jake Howells teed up Guttridge, his shot was fumbled by Matt Ingram for the lurking Elliot Lee to tap home.
With Town looking to have regained the initiative, they handed Wycombe the perfect opportunity to move ahead once more on 21 minutes.
Saunders found Matthew Bloomfield in the area who twisted away from Wilkinson and drew an unnecessary foul to win a penalty that Paul Hayes confidently fired into the bottom corner.
Town looked shell-shocked and second best, as Franks gifted possession to Saunders who advanced and scooped over the top.
The visitors then stunned the home fans on the half hour as Alfie Mawson, who spent a spell on loan at Luton last season, scored a wonderful solo goal.
Picking up a wayward pass on the half way line, the centre half played a one-two with Hayes and took the return to sweep past the horribly exposed Justham.
Howells put a free kick disappointingly over, while Lee fired into the stands as Town looked for a reply before the break.
They had it on 40 minutes, with Lee the architect and finisher once more, starting the move that saw Benson found Howells on the flank.
The wing back sent over a high and hanging cross which was met by Michael Harriman at the back post for Lee to volley past Ingram.
At the break, Still swapped Franks for Matt Robinson, reverting back to a 4-4-2 formation.
After such a breathless opening 45, the second was something of an anti-climax as Luton just couldn’t create anything meaningful in front of goal.
Wycombe almost extended their advantage, Fred Onyedinma shooting straight at Justham, while Town’s threats came mainly from set-pieces, Wilkinson climbing highest but heading wide.
However, Wanderers were by now starting to run the clock down whenever they could, looking every inch a side who are unbeaten on their travels since October.
Sam Wood shot badly wide after poor play by Robinson, but Lee remained the main man, spinning Mawson and firing marginally past the post.
After a horribly cynical foul by Saunders, the hobbling Lee was withdrawn for Mark Cullen and Wilkinson was again wayward from Drury’s probing free kick.
With time running out, Wood fizzed just over, as Town’s last chance sawsub Nathan Oduwa’s fierce drive clawed away by Ingram.
The result saw Luton stay in sixth place, but with confidence at a crushing low, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Northampton Town.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Fraser Franks (Matt Robinson 46), Luke Wilkinson, Steve McNulty, Michael Harriman, Andy Drury, Cameron McGeehan (Nathan Oduwa 77), Luke Guttridge, Paul Benson, Elliot Lee (Mark Cullen 80).
Subs not used: Alex Lacey, Alex Lawless, Jayden Stockley, Craig King.
Wanderers: Matt Ingram, Joe Jacobson, Nico Yennaris, Aaron Pierre, Sam Saunders, Marcus Bean, Paul Hayes (C Steven Craig 90), Matthew Bloomfield, Sam Wood, Fred Onyedinma (Aaron Holloway 66), Alfie Mawson.
Subs not used: Peter Murphy, Dan Rowe, Matt McClure, Alex Lynch, Hogan Ephraim.
Referee: David Coote.
Booked: Saunders 72.
Attendance: 8,379 (Wycombe 555).
Hatters MOM: Elliot Lee. Liverwire performance and a real fox in the box.