Hatters fall to another defeat against bogey side Pompey

League Two: Portsmouth 1 Luton Town 0

By The Newsroom
Monday, 2nd January 2017, 6:16 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:43 pm
Danny Hylton battles for possession against Portsmouth this afternoon
Danny Hylton battles for possession against Portsmouth this afternoon

All teams have a bogey side and Luton's continues to be in the blue of Portsmouth after yet another defeat on the south coast this afternoon.

Going into the contest, the Hatters had taken just two points from their five previous meetings against Pompey since returning to the Football League, while losing six from seven trips to Fratton Park, with only last season's bore draw going against the grain.

With no victory since 1975, the visitors were made to pay for a timid first half display, in which star midfielder Cameron McGeehan was stretchered off, with Christian Burgess' close range header ending Luton's long run of clean sheets on their travels, as they made it an unwanted seven losses from eight.

To their credit, Hatters picked up considerably in the second half, and deserved a point for their efforts, denied by the woodwork and a glaring miss from Jonathan Smith.

Luton boss Nathan Jones made just two changes from the New Year's Eve victory over Barnet, with Dan Potts injured and Alan Sheehan missing out too, James Justin and Alex Gilliead coming in, as Town reverted to the diamond which had seen off the Bees.

A bright and entertaining opening was then truncated by a lengthy injury to McGeehan on 15 minutes as he slid in on Michael Doyle and was immediately writhing around in agony.

He needed a good 10 minutes of treatment, while in that time, was bafflingly booked for hitting the ground in frustration, while was mercilessly and downright disgracefully jeered by the home supporters before and during being stretchered off.

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu came on in his place, as the game started to open up, Gareth Evans over from range for Pompey, Smith following suit, despite having time and space to hit the target.

Carl Baker missed his kick from a low cross as Pompey finally got round the back of Town's defence, with Kyle Bennett not missing by much either.

However the hosts then took the lead on 31 minutes after Bennett robbed O'Donnell of the ball deep in Hatters to win a set-piece.

It was swung in with pace by Baker, as Christian Burgess beat Christian Walton to the punch, ending Luton's record of 402 minutes since conceding on their travels in League Two, dating back over two months when Ollie Palmer scored for Leyton Orient on October 15.

From there, Luton couldn't ever really look to trouble David Forde, bar the odd cross from deep, as sub Mpanzu would often take a heavy touch just as an opportunity looked like presenting itself, with attacking moves continually breaking down in the final third.

Captain Cuthbert was on hand with a superbly timed sliding challenge to prevent Evans from making it 2-0, with Burgess heading narrowly wide in the seven minutes of injury time played.

In the second period, Pompey almost had an immediate second has another dangerous set-piece was met by Evans, who headed straight at Walton.

The visitors then were a whisker away from levelling on 53 minutes as Burgess missed Cook's hopeful punt forward, and Hylton raced clear to sublimely chip Forde, only to see his effort cruelly bounce off the bar and away.

Jones brought on Olly Lee and Isaac Vassell for Gilliead and Cook, as Hatters fans finally started to believe they could mount a fight back, Smith's volley gathered in by Forde.

The recently recalled midfielder then missed the chance of the match on 65 minutes as he raced into the box after some superb work by Hylton, wriggling round his man on the byline man and laying it on a plate for Smith, but faced with an open goal, he somehow got it all wrong, skewing well wide.

Lee's wonderful ball out wide picked out Justin, who cut in from the left an unleashed a fierce effort parried behind by Forde, as Town were the hampered for the final 20 minutes when Hylton took a blow to the back.

Hatters' leading scorer had to stay on despite motioning to go off as Jones had already rung all the changes, although Hylton was reduced to playing the game at a walking pace for the remainder, such was his limited movement.

Despite all their territory and moments late on, Luton just couldn't create a chance as good as Smith's and almost fell to a even more flattering defeat late on, when Lee felled Noel Hunt in the area.

Gary Roberts stepped up only to blaze over the top, as Hatters remained in the fixture, but try as they might, there was to be no late equaliser, consigning Hatters to yet another defeat at Fratton Park.

Pompey: David Forde, Enda Stevens, Danny Rose (Amine Linganzi 82), Matt Clarke, Christian Burgess, Carl Baker (Noel Hunt 80), Michael Doyle (C), Michael Smith, Kai Naismith, Kyle Bennett (Gary Roberts 68), Gareth Evans.

Subs not used: Liam O'Brien, Milan Lalkovic, Jack Whatmough, Conor Chaplin.

Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O'Donnell, Johnny Mullins, Scott Cuthbert (C), James Justin, Glen Rea, Jonathan Smith, Cameron McGeehan (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 20), Alex Gilliead (Isaac Vassell 54), Jordan Cook (Olly Lee 54), Danny Hylton.

Subs not used: Craig King, Jack Marriott, Josh McQuoid, Jack Senior.

Attendance: 17,402 (1,547 from Luton).

Booked: McGeehan 15, Smith 41, Vassell 65, Forde 86, Hunt 90, Mpanzu 90.

Referee: Tim Robinson.

Hatters MOM: Scott Cuthbert. Captain continues to rise to the occasion.