Hatters crumble to embarrassing defeat at Dons

Hatters concede the opening goal at AFC Wimbledon this afternoonHatters concede the opening goal at AFC Wimbledon this afternoon
Hatters concede the opening goal at AFC Wimbledon this afternoon
League Two: AFC Wimbledon 4 Luton Town 1

Luton Town boss Nathan Jones suffered his heaviest defeat since taking over as Hatters were embarrassingly hammered 4-1 at AFC Wimbledon this afternoon.

There was nothing to suggest in the build-up that such a result was on the cards with Town having kept three clean sheets in five matches, while AFC had only won five games in front of their own fans this season, but the visitors were torn apart at times by a rampant home side.

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Hatters dominated possession for large chunks of the fixture, but the main stat is goals, and they were miles behind the Dons in that respect, as the hosts hardly had to break sweat, such was the ease at which Town’s defence parted for them, twice conceding goals in the space of a minute.

The visitors had made two changes for the clash as Paul Benson and Paddy McCourt came in for the injured Alex Lawless and Joe Pigott, who dropped to the bench, where he was joined by the fit-again Danny Green.

Dons made a bright start, with Tom Elliott’s hesitation seeing his shot blocked, while Elliot Justham then had to turn Barry Fuller’s low deflected effort around the post.

Jack Marriott’s volley flew over, but still Dons looked the most likely, Ryan Sweeney failing to connect with Elliott’s header across goal.

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Hatters were content to take the sting out of the game, putting together some lengthy passing moves in their quest to find an opening, one Stephen O’Donnell cross just over the head of Paul Benson.

However, Dons then took the lead in calamitous fashion on 23 minutes as a corner was swung over and Ryan Sweeney diverted it goalwards, with Town keeper Justham seemingly unable to get off the ground as it somehow went over the line.

One became two three minutes later though as Andy Barcham’s superb acrobatic almost kung fu style cross was met by the unmarked Lyle Taylor, whose header hit Alan Sheehan to wrongfoot Justham.

McGeehan’s half-hearted attempt was easy for Kelle Roos, with the on-loan keeper also parrying the Luton midfielder’s effort from range on 40 minutes and then racing off his line to deny Jack Marriott too.

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Hatters missed a glorious chance on the stroke of half time as McCourt threaded a terrific through ball for Benson but Roos was on his toes instantly as he couldn’t lift the ball over the Dons keeper.

Boss Nathan Jones replaced Mackail-Smith with Magnus Okuonghae during the interval as Luton moved Sheehan to left back, but the visitors didn’t appear to have much of a clue who was doing what in the early stages and paid a hefty price.

First, Sean Rigg drilled a 20-yarder low into the net and 60 seconds later, it was 4-0 when Taylor had his second, clinically converting a corner, as some visiting fans, having seen enough, made for the exits.

The Dons looked like they were going to run riot, but Hatters at least tested Roos, McCourt’s daisy cutter saved at the second attempt.

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Luton then tried to make a game of it on the hour mark as Marriott received a pass to feet, spun, held off his man and thumped past Roos into the top corner.

However, the Dons always maintained a threat themselves, despite dropping down the gears, with Paul Robinson’s inventive flick saved low down by Justham.

Hatters tried to up the tempo on 69 minutes as O’Donnell charged down the right flank and went for glory, shooting into the stands, with the defender’s high cross then clipping the top of the bar on its way over.

With 14 minutes to go, Luton thought they had given themselves a further lifeline as Marriott’s fierce cross was bundled over the line by McGeehan, but the midfielder was adjudged to have handled, as the goal was disallowed, with the Luton man also booked for his indiscretion.

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Dons then brought on Adebayo Akinfenwa and Adebayo Azeez with the former testing Justham from range.

Late on, Jonathan Smith volleyed wastefully wide from 30 yards and Marriott’s close range header was easy for Roos, but there was never any realistic hope of Town turning it around, as Luton left with their tails well and truly between their legs.

Dons: Kelle Roos, Barry Fuller (C), Paul Robinson, Ryan Sweeney, Jon Meads, Jake Reeves (Sean Rigg 19), Dannie Bulman, Andy Barcham, Tom Elliott (Adebayo Azeez 75), Lyle Taylor (Adebayo Akinfenwa 75), George Francomb.

Subs not used: James Shea, Callum Kennedy, David Fitzpatrick, Dan Gallagher.

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Hatters: Elliot Justham, Stephen O’Donnell, Jake Howells, Scott Cuthbert (C), Alan Sheehan, Olly Lee (Joe Pigott 71), Cameron McGeehan, Paddy McCourt (Jonathan Smith 55), Jack Marriott, Craig Mackail-Smith (Magnus Okuonghae 46), Paul Benson.

Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Dan Potts, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Danny Green.

Booked: Benson 36, McGeehan 75.

Attendance: 4,439 (833 Hatters).

Referee: Christopher Sarginson.

Hatters MOM: Stephen O’Donnell. Kept going manfully in what was a losing cause.