League Two: Luton Town 4 Wycombe Wanderers 1
Striker Danny Hylton netted his first hat-trick for the Hatters as Luton produced a magnificent display to convincingly dispatch Wycombe Wanderers at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
It had looked like Town were in for a comfortable afternoon when Hylton opened the scoring on 11 minutes and then added his second early after the break.
However, Matt Bloomfield pulled one back on 63 minutes, as Luton were forced on to the back foot for a while, but stand firm they didn, before giving the scoreline a far, far fairer reflection in the closing stages, thanks to Hylton completing his treble from the spot, plus Jordan Cook’s first goal for the club.
Boss Nathan Jones had made one change from the side who beat Cambridge last weekend, Scott Cuthbert in for Glen Rea who was away on international duty with the Ireland U21s.
The hosts started superbly too, producing easily one of the best first halves of football in recent times against a Wycombe side who had enjoyed the better of previous meetings in Bedfordshire.
Town went close early on when Cook played in Stephen O’Donnell who with Hylton well placed, went for goal, as Jamal Blackman saved low down.
Town had the early strike they craved though on 11 minutes when Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu did wonderfully well on the right, nutmegging Matt Bloomfield and firing a cross in that Hylton bravely flicked beyond Blackman and into the net for his first goal on home soil.
Wanderers were denied what looked like a legitimate leveller moments later as Christian Walton dropped a high ball into the area under the slightest pressure from Paul Hayes and Dayle Southwell converted, only for referee Graham Scott to blow for an infringement on the keeper which was decidedly iffy at best.
Luton continued to attack though, with the game refreshingly a great deal more open than any recent contests at Kenilworth Road, as Hylton turned provider, sending Cook clean through but trying to chip Blackman, saw the keeper stand his ground and easily collect the effort.
Still Luton pressed for a second, with some wonderful attacking play down both sides, as Mpanzu particularly to the fore and Cook always inventive too, with Hylton this time putting the ball through the legs of a visiting defender, but Blackman readjusted to claw his deflected cross away.
Jack Marriott came close moments later, shooting narrowly wide, before Wycombe threatened, Danny Rowe bursting away from Cuthbert only to blast well wide.
Further eye-catching attacking play saw Marriott’s backheel find the overlapping Mpanzu fashion whose shot was fumbled by Blackman fumbled as Cameron McGeehan was denied a tap in by ex-Hatter Michael Harriman’s sliding tackle, with the midfielder screaming for a penalty, only to earn a booked for his outburst at the official.
However, Town did have a spotkick on 27 minutes as Cook went racing away and was brought down by Stephen McGinn just inside the box according to the linesman, with the Wycombe man fortunately escaping a second yellow after earlier being cautioned for bringing down Mpanzu.
Despite never missing from the spot, McGeehan failed to add to his side’s tally, seeing a low effort easily saved by Blackman.
Walton made sure Luton remained in front at the break though, with a fine low stop from Bloomfield’s daisycutter that was arrowing into the bottom corner, with Anthony Stewart nodding the resulting set-piece inches wide.
After the break, Town came out strongly once more, a factor that had been a constant bugbear from last term, as Marriott saw Sido Jombati clear his effort off the line after Hylton’s run into the box, with the latter also denied by a covering defender too.
Chances were coming but most frustratingly going for Hatters, with Mpanzu off target from close in, until on while on 56 minutes, they finally had the second they fully deserved when Cook laid in McGeehan, with his low shot blocked by Blackman only for Hylton to tap into the empty net.
After looking dead and buried, from nothing, the Chairboys were back in the game though moments after the hour as Hayes found Bloomfield whose touch took him clear of the defence and with no cover, easily slotted into the bottom corner.
Wycombe were now somehow a force to be reckoned with, as veteran strike duo Adebayo Akinfenwa and Gary Thompson came on, the latter forcing Walton into an uncomfortable sprawling stop from range and another parry behind from the angle.
In seasons gone by, Town might well have folded, with games against Oxford and Carlisle springing to mind, but this time, they held firm, and almost had some much-needed breathing space when O’Donnell dinked through for McGeehan, with Blackman flipping his volley over the top.
With time running out, Luton did have the buffer they required, as Hylton was tugged back in the area by Will De Havilland and with the match ball on his mind, assumed penalty taking duties from McGeehan to send Blackman the wrong way.
There was still time for a fourth too as from a Wycombe corner, Town broke at devastating speed with Hylton sending Cook away, and this time, he went low, coolly slotting beyond Blackman.
McGeehan could have had a fifth, only to see Blackman come out on top of their mini battle again with an excellent stop at the death, but Luton had by now done more than enough to reclaim their position at the top of the table.
Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Scott Cuthbert (C), Olly Lee, Jordan Cook, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Jonathan Smith 68), Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton (Akin Famewo 90), Jack Marriott (Isaac Vassell 82).
Subs not used: Craig King, James Justin, Jake Gray, Alex Gilliead.
Wanderers: Jamal Blackman, Sido Jombati, Stephen McGinn (Dominic Gapoe 53), Anthony Stewart, Paul Hayes (C), Matt Bloomfield, Dayle Southwell (Adebayo Akinfena 73), Michael Harriman, Danny Rowe, Nick Freeman (Garry Thompson 73), Will De Havilland.
Subs not used: Aaron Pierre, Sam Wood, Barry Richardson, Scott Kashket.
Bookings: McGinn 20, McGeehan 24, Cook 31, Smith 69, Bloomfield 70, Hayes 90.
Attendance: 8,097 (530 Wycombe).
Hatters MOM: Danny Hylton. Hat-trick hero was unplayable at times.