Bell scores the winner as Luton dig in to defeat Barnsley

Championship: Barnsley 0 Luton Town 1

By Mike Simmonds
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 10:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 9:10 am
Amari'i Bell scored the winner for Luton this evening
Amari'i Bell scored the winner for Luton this evening

Luton produced a magnificent defensive performance to earn their first away win in the Championship this evening with a dogged 1-0 victory at Barnsley.

Although it's a venue the Hatters have often performed well at, winning on their last two visits, they haven't previously had to dig quite so deep in which to do so.

After a 3-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, a game that boss Nathan Jones vowed his players wouldn't ever make the same mistakes again from, he was proved right, as to a man the Luton back-line were superb, throwing themselves in front of shots, blocking crosses and winning their headers, all backed up by o leave Oakwell with their clean sheet intact.

Town boss Nathan Jones had made a surprising five changes to his side from the weekend, handing full Championship debuts to Cameron Jerome, Henri Lansbury, Admiral Muskwe and Peter Kioso.

Tom Lockyer was also back for his first league start since February, as Fred Onyedinma and Jordan Clark missed out, the latter due to concussion protocols, Harry Cornick, Allan Campbell and Gabe Osho dropping to the bench.

Adopting a three-man defence, with Kioso, Lockyer and Kal Naismith, Town had the perfect start on just four minutes.

Elijah Adebayo escaped on the right and when his cross couldn't quite be gathered by strike partner Jerome, there was full back Amari'i Bell to crash home on his weaker right foot from the edge of his box to open his Town account and score a first league goal since March 30, 2019.

It further highlighted the attacking options available to Jones this term, the Jamaican international becoming the fifth player to score in the Championship for Luton already.

Both wingbacks were almost on target inside the opening 15 minutes as Jerome did superbly to dink over a cross from the byline after home keeper Brad Collins failed to collect, James Bree scuffing his volley.

The Tykes threatened an equaliser on 22 minutes, Romal Palmer breaking through Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's challenge to go through on goal, but with the angle increasingly against him, he couldn't beat Simon Sluga who stood up well to block.

From the resulting corner, Town looked to show they were over the set-piece troubles from Saturday at the Hawthorns, Sluga out confidently to punch clear.

Barnsley then gained control of proceedings, with a prolonged period of possession as they looked the most likely to score, Lockyer required to make a superb sliding challenge as Tykes forward Clark Oduour appeared destined to level the contest.

With such an attacking front three, Luton were always going to be a threat though, Muskwe having one fierce drive blocked behind, with another battling burst bouncing up into the grateful hands of Collins.

He continued to look a real danger, galloping forward and finding Jerome, whose cross was just beyond a team-mate.

Barnsley had a real chance on 37 minutes when some neat passing saw the goal open up for Callum Brittain, Sluga making an excellent low stop from his side-footer, Kioso in bravely to clear the rebound as well.

After the break, the Tykes continued to pose problems, Brittain taking aim with an angled drive which wasn't too far away.

The Hatters' chances were more limited, Adebayo making his own opportunity when bursting into the box, but rather than shoot across Collins, went for the near post and dragged disappointingly wide.

Back came the Tykes, with Brittain again orchestrating things on the right, his low delivery just missed by the sliding Devante Cole.

At the other end, Lansbury showed wonderful technique to execute a half volley that required parrying by Collins, with Barnsley also going close again, Josh Benson's volley flashing behind.

With 20 minutes to go, the Hatters gave Jerome a breather after the experienced striker had run himself into the ground, while Sluga made a sprawling stop from Styles, Muskwe showing his defensive duties when doing brilliantly to block a follow-up shot.

As the time ticked on, Luton made certain they weren't going to concede, Kioso tracking his man and producing a sliding tackle to avert the danger for a corner that Liam Kitching headed over.

Barnsley had a wonderful chance to draw level with time running out, as with Lockyer struggling badly with cramp, the ball broke to Styles eight yards out, only for the midfielder to shank wide of the target.

That was to prove their last opportunity though, Town making it three successive wins at Oakwell and climbing up to third place in the table.

Tykes: Brad Collins, Callum Styles, Liam Kitching, Callum Brittain, Cauley Woodrow ©, Josh Benson, Toby Sibbick, Romal Palmer, Clarke Oduor (Devante Cole 56), Dominik Frieser (Victor Adeboyejo 75), Michael Helik.

Subs not used: Jack Walton, Ben Williams, Jasper Moon, Aapo Halme, George Miller.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Kal Naismith, Tom Lockyer (Gabe Osho 88), Peter Kioso, Amari'i Bell, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Henri Lansbury, Admiral Muskwe (Glen Rea 89), Elijah Adebayo, Cameron Jerome (Harry Cornick 69).

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Carlos Mendes Gomes, Elliot Lee, Allan Campbell.

Bookings: Helik 37, Muskwe 41, Adebayo 45, Lansbury 57, Cornick 90.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 12,299 (748 Luton).