Hatters hammer six in the second half to avoid an FA Cup upset

FA Cup, second round: Luton Town 6 Solihull Moors 2

Saturday, 3rd December 2016, 6:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:41 pm
Stephen O'Donnell makes it 3-2 to Luton against Solihull

Luton Town were given an almighty scare against National League side Solihull Moors before gorging themselves on goals in the second half to eventually coast through and reach the FA Cup third round this afternoon.

A truly hideous performance from the Hatters in the opening 45 minutes, coupled with an excellent display by their opponents saw Nathan Jones' side quite rightly booed off at the break,

It looked for all the world like they were in serious trouble of having the ignominy of being screened first on the various highlights programmes this evening for all to see, as one of shock exits of the round, against a team 16th in the division below.

However, once Danny Hylton pulled one back six minutes into the second period, Town ran riot, counter-attacking with devastating efficiency to find the net a further five times and complete a victory that had looked simply miles away during the interval.

Jones maintained his pre-match promise to play a strong side, with just two changes from the 0-0 draw at Exeter, Alex Gilliead and Jack Marriott in, Isaac Vassell and Olly Lee dropping to the bench.

Luton began badly though, as Moors went in front in wonderful fashion, Jamey Osborne left all alone in the area to untangle his feet and produce a wonderful curling effort into the top corner.

With a number of feisty challenges in the opening 20 minutes, it was no surprise to see Hatters leading the card count, while some sloppy play saw James Justin dispossessed, Omari Sterling shooting straight at Walton from range.

Luton just couldn't shake themselves from their slumber, as Moors keeper Danny Lewis wasn't significantly tested, with the visitors always looking the more likely, Liam Daly's header grabbed by Christian Walton.

The game was becoming a real bad tempered affair, Jordan Cook booked for a scything challenge, while Sterling was guilty of shocking play-acting in his attempts to get Alan Sheehan cautioned.

Things went from bad to worse for Luton on 35 minutes, as they showed they clearly hadn't learned their lesson. Akwasi Asante picked up a cross to once again find Osbourne, left in splendid isolation for the second time.

With his sights set after the earlier effort, he once again hit the target, drilling past Walton to double Solihull's advantage.

If anything, it was Moors who pressed for a third, as an incisive burst down the right saw Asante's diving header drift over the bar.

The frustration from Hatters' supporters was clearly audible when Asante should have put his side out of sight, slicing off target from close in.

With one minute to the break, Hatters finally threatened a goal of sorts, Cook's deflected cross palmed out by Lewis and Cameron McGeehan turning the the loose ball over.

Jeered off at the break, Jones could have made a whole host of changes, but opted for just the one, Stephen O'Donnell on for Justin, who had struggled in the opening period.

Luton won an early free kick just outside the box as Sheehan once again got his effort on target, Lewis beating it away.

You got the feeling Town needed to strike early to have any chance of a fight back and they did just that, as Marriott played a splendid left-footed ball over the top from deep.

Leading scorer Danny Hylton took it in his stride wonderfully and raced through to slide under Lewis for his 13th of the season.

The hosts then turned the tie around in the blink of an eye, with a wonderful finish of their own, Johnny Mullins curling a beautiful effort past Lewis for his first goal for the club, not the sort of effort you'd expect from a centre half with over 500 appearances under his belt.

Confidence restored and the self-belief starting to flow, Cook's effort was easy for Lewis, before Luton were in front with their third goal in eight minutes, with Marriott once more the architect.

His pace left Solihull's players for dead and the striker picked the perfect moment to send in the overlapping O'Donnell who blasted into the bottom corner to mark his 50th game for the club in style.

Luton then had breathing space, as with 63 gone, Marriott was put clear and finally ended his long goal drought stretching back to September 24 with a composed strike into the bottom corner.

Hatters stepped back off the accelerator slightly, when there were clearly plenty more goals to be had should they want them, Sterling seeing his shot comfortably gathered by Walton.

Gilliead had to go off after turning his ankle, Dan Potts on for a rare appearances, as Marriott came close to a fifth on two occasions, both time denied by Lewis.

It was 5-2 with a minute to go, O'Donnell once again netting, this time with his left foot, before Marriott put a gloss on the scoreline that hadn't seemed likely at the interval, swivelling in the box to bag his fifth of the campaign, as Luton scored six in the second half for the first time since the 7-0 win over Hereford in February 2014.

Hatters: Christian Walton, James Justin (Stephen O'Donnell 46), Alan Sheehan, Johnny Mullins, Scott Cuthbert, Glen Rea, Jordan Cook, Alex Gilliead (Dan Potts 75), Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton (Isaac Vassell 81), Jack Marriott.

Subs not used: Craig King, Jonathan Smith, Olly Lee, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.

Moors: Danny Lewis, Shepherd Murombedzi, Connor Franklin (Charlie Morris 72), Liam Daly (C), Jordan Gough, Akwasi Asante, Jack Byrne, Eddie Jones (Darryl Knights 82), Jordan Fagbola, Jamey Osbourne, Omari Sterling (Harry White 82).

Subs not used: Darren Acton, Jeane Koue, Joel Dielna.

Attendance: 3,512 (635 Solihull).

Booked: McGeehan 8, Franklin 17, Cuthbert 20, Cook 30.

Referee: Christopher Sarginson.

Star man: Stephen O'Donnell - game-changing display from the half time sub.