Hatters fall to timid Forest defeat
Championship: Luton Town 1 Nottingham Forest 2
Luton suffered their third straight defeat as they went down to a lacklustre reverse against Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
Prior to the match, boss Graeme Jones had called for a repeat of the showing that his side served up to beat Bristol City here a fortnight ago.
Unfortunately, there was never any real sign of that, as although the stats will show Town had 70 per cent of the possession, it took them until the final five minutes to mount any serious and concerted pressure, as they . with the hosts unable to lay any meaningful punches on Forest, who easily kept them at arm's length for the contest.
Town were always going to find it difficult against a visiting side who are tipped to mount a promotion challenge this season, but the timid nature of the defeat will be of massive disappointment for boss Jones,
He had made three changes to the side who lost 2-1 at Birmingham last weekend, top scorers Harry Cornick and James Collins back, with James Bree restored to right back, Callum McManaman, Kazenga LuaLua and Luke Bolton all dropping to the bench.
The visitors wasted a glorious chance on 11 minutes, when Town were sliced open by a superb counter-attacking move, striker Lewis Grabban slicing wildly off target from 12 yards out.
Town thought they had moved in front midway through the first half, only for Dan Potts' effort at the far post, beating Brice Samba at the second attempt, to be disallowed for offside.
Grabban then went a whole lot closer than he had managed previously, sending a 20-yard daisycutter skimming just wide of the bottom corner.
Luton began upping the tempo, Collins put his shot too close to Samba, who collected easily, while Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzy hammered over the top after the hosts won possession back upfield.
The hosts then suffered a major blow as Izzy Brown, who was starting to pick up possession in some dangerous areas, had to go off with a knock, LuaLua on in his place.
Luton then fell behind on 39 minutes after a defensive mix-up saw Bree and Sonny Bradley get in each other's way, leaving Grabban to break clear, outpace Bree and confidently slot past Shea.
After the break, the visitors still remained in the ascendancy, Joe Lolley ghosting in at the far post to direct his header wide, before Sammy Ameobi rolled the ball back for Ben Watson to shank into the stands.
However, Forest were rewarded for their dominance on 58 minutes, with a goal of alarming simplicity as Lolley escaped on the right to send a cross into the area and Ameobi was given all the time to control, spin and beat Shea via a deflection.
The visitors looked for a third, Ameobi's low fizzer stopped by Shea, with Luton only ever really threatening when Matty Pearson played one of his number of pinpoint crossfield passes to the feet of LuaLua.
Time and time again, the winger's deliveries were cut out by the first man though, until on 75 minutes, he took the responsibility himself, forcing Samba to parry at his near post.
Collins looked to have made it a nervy final stages as he turned in from close range after Ryan Tunnicliffe's shot was blocked, with Pearson flicking back into the danger area, only for the second time in the afternoon, the linesman's flag cut short any celebrations.
However, Town did have a lifeline with three left, LuaLua finding the run of sub Callum McManaman, who beat his man with a lovely turn, and then bent his shot past Samba.
Finally, the Hatters and their previously quietened supporters came to life, LuaLua narrowly wide from distance, while a later corner caused some consternation, but it never looked like being enough, as Forest took the victory.
Hatters: James Shea, James Bree (Luke Bolton 70), Dan Potts, Sonny Bradley (C), Matty Pearson, Martin Cranie, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Harry Cornick (Callum McManaman 59), Izzy Brown (Kazenga LuaLua 33), James Collins.
Subs not used: Lloyd Jones, Jacob Butterfield, Andrew Shinnie, Simon Sluga.
Forest: Brice Samba, Yuri Ribeiro, Tobias Figueiredo, Joe Worrall, Lewis Grabban (Rafa Mir 90), Ben Watson ©, Matty Cash, Sammy Ameobi (Albert Adomah 71), Ryan Yates, Joe Lolley (Jack Robinson 83), Tiago Silva.
Subs not used: Joao Carvalho, Chema Rodriguez, Brennan Johnson, Arijanet Muric.
Booked: Worrall 69.
Referee: Gavin Ward.
Attendance: 10,053 (1,017 Forest).