Hatters through in EFL Trophy after dominant display against Baggies
EFL Checkatrade Trophy: Luton Town 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
A quickfire second half double saw Luton Town produce another hugely impressive victory in the EFL Checkatrade Trophy, defeating West Bromwich Albion at Kenilworth Road this evening.
Alex Gilliead bagged his first goal in a Luton shirt on the hour mark, while Jake Gray quickly made it 2-0, as the Hatters deservedly saw off a Baggies side, containing Boaz Myhill, Jonas Olsson, Craig Gardner and Callum McManaman, the latter two accumulating transfer fees of over Â£10million in their career.
Once again, Luton boss Nathan Jones rung the changes for the tie, making 11 in total as he had done in the previous game at Gillingham, a decision that might still incur the wrath of the FA at a later date, which in itself is baffling considering Town now top the group and along with Millwall, are through to the next stage.
Town started brightly as Josh McQuoid's low free kick was only narrowly wide, while debutant Jack Senior crossed for Zane Banton, whose header was caught by the back-pedalling Boaz Myhill.
The visitors had a great chance on nine minutes when Gardner scuffed his volley wide and the Baggies had a massively debatable penalty on 16 minutes when Frankie Musonda went sliding in on Rekeem Harper and despite appearing to have executed the perfect challenge, with the ball going away from goal, referee Andy Davies baffllingly pointing to the spot.
McManaman stepped up only to see Craig King save his weak spot kick, blocking with his legs, with Olsson's header from the corner clipping the top of the bar.
On the half hour, Smith's delightful dummy set Gilliead away and he tried his luck from 25 yards, forcing Myhill to palm clear.
Senior was impressing with his adventurous bursts forward, sending over another cross that McQuoid's headed at Myhill.
The on-loan man almost broke the deadlock in the closing moments of the first half after a sweeping move led to Banton teeing him up for an effort that deflected behind.
In the second period, Luton were quickly on to the front foot, as Stephen O'Donnell's lovely cross was volleyed wide by Smith, with McQuoid and Gilliead both shooting straight at Welsh international Myhill.
Banton then had the best chance he will ever have to open his Luton account, as from O'Donnell's through ball, he advanced on the stay at home Myhill, but with virtually the whole goal to aim at, could only sidefoot against the post.
Rather than let the miss affect him though, to his credit, Banton seemed determined to make amends, setting up O'Donnell for a low effort that flew wide.
He did then provide the telling pass on the hour mark, with Town winning the ball back high up, and the young attacker weighted his pass perfectly for Gilliead confidently slot into the bottom corner.
The lead was doubled within two minutes, courtesy of a lovely corner routine, as Gilliead's low delivery was dummied by Smith, and Gray netted with a first time finish straight off the training ground.
Banton kept searching his opening goal, his shot deflected wide, while on 74 minutes, Senior was close, crashing over from another good Banton pass.
Jones brought on Isaac Vassell for McQuoid as repeatedly tested the visiting keeper in the closing stages, which saw U18s Freddie Hinds and Jack Snelus on for their Hatters debuts.
Luton almost crowned the victory with a wonderful team goal, as O'Donnell's volley was charged down, but boss Jones was left to reflect on another fine evening's work in the competition.
Hatters: Craig King, Stephen O'Donnell, Jack Senior, Akin Famewo, Frankie Musonda, Tyreeq Bakinson, Jonathan Smith, Jake Gray, Alex Gilliead (Jack Snelus 90), Josh McQuoid (Isaac Vassell 74), Zane Banton (Freddie Hinds 87).
Subs not used: Kavan Cotter, Arthur Read, Alex Atkinson, Liam Gooch.
Baggies: Boaz Myhill, Jonas Olsson, Craig Gardner, Callum McMananam, Rekeem Harper, James Smith (Cameron Walker 67), Brad Sweeney (Daniel Barbier 63), Robbie McCourt (Taylor Morrison 75), Shaun Donnellan, Jack Fitzwater (C), Rayhaan Tulloch.
Subs not used: Callum Pritchatt, Alex Palmer, Sameron Dool, Alex Bradley.
Bookings: Bakinson 90.
Referee: Andy Davies.
Attendance: 1,441, (89 Baggies).
Hatters MOM: Zane Banton.