Championship: Luton Town 2 Charlton Athletic 1
Izzy Brown’s first goal for the club saw Luton end their run of five straight defeats with a much-needed and absolutely crucal victory, seeing off Charlton Athletic this evening.
The result saw the Hatters climb out of the relegation zone and was a huge tonic after what had been a crushing last-gasp loss to Leeds United at the weekend.
Victory was the first time that Town had beaten the Addicks in the league since a Division One contest back in November 1993 as well, when Paul Telfer was on target, plus defeated a side who had taken four points off them in League One last term too, ending the Hatters’ 28-game unbeaten run at the Valley.
Town, who were unchanged from the side beaten on Saturday, almost had the lead on five minutes when Harry Cornick escaped the offside trap.
He put in a cross for James Collins, who appeared to have shanked his attempt well wide, only to see the ball loop up and cannon off the crossbar, with Dillon Phillips beaten all ends up.
Andrew Shinnie rifled well over in a positive start by the hosts, but they were then hit yet again by a defensive error on seven minutes, as Sonny Bradley’s pass was intercepted, with Jonathan Leko bursting clear to easily outpace Bradley and beat James Shea.
Thankfully for Town, they didn’t let their heads drop, Brown almost drawing them level, when his pinpoint free kick required an excellent save from Phillips, finger-tipping it behind.
Luton did restore parity on 19 minutes, when Brown’s cross was only half cleared and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu arrived on cue to a thunder a first time left-footed drive into the bottom for a cracking second of the season.
Graeme Jones’ side could have moved 2-1 in front, Mpanzu’s hopeful cross missed by a visiting defender and falling for Collins, who skied over the bar from an inviting position.
The visitors then got a foothold of their own in the game, Macauley Bonne finding some space to head wide of the far post.
On the stroke of half time, Luton almost moved in front themselves, Matty Pearson running well over 40 yards to find Brown, who teed up Harry Cornick, his attempt blocked by a fine covering tackle.
They had another opportunity moments later, Cornick’s cross rolling across the box perfectly for Dan Potts, but he scooped disappointingly over on his favoured left foot.
After the break, Athletic almost regained the ascendancy instantly, Chris Solly crossing for Leko, but Pearson was back to deflect the ball narrowly wide of Shea’s goal.
Town did have that crucial second on 54 minutes, when Shinnie won the ball back deep into Charlton territory and found the run of Brown, who cleverly took the pass in his stride and then beat Phillips for his first goal in Luton colours.
Hatters almost had a pressure-relieving third when Brown teed up Shinnie 20 yards from goal and he bent a beautiful effort that looked destined to fly into the top corner, only to crash against the outside of the post.
Brown was hunting a second of the evening for himself, sending another free kick goalwards that just didn’t come back in time, while Collins’ blast was deflected over and then Cornick, picked out gloriously by Brown, sliced frustratingly wide with 15 minutes remaining.
Sensing they could still nick a point, the Addicks almost did when Conor Gallagher’s low effort was easy for Shea, going much closer with his next attempt, his 25-yarder brusing the base of the post.
But crucially the Hatters held on to ensure they cut the gap on the group of teams bunched above them in the table, and can now look forward to a trip to Brentford this weekend with renewed confidence.
Hatters: James Shea, James Bree, Dan Potts, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley ©, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Luke Bolton 80), Andrew Shinnie Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Izzy Brown, James Collins, Harry Cornick.
Subs not used: Simon Sluga, Brendan Galloway, Lloyd Jones, Jacob Butterfield, Callum McManaman, Kazenga LuaLua.
Addicks: Dillon Phillips, Ben Purrington (Josh Davison 85), Tom Lockyer, Jason Pearce ©, Conor Gallagher, Jonathan Leko, Darren Pratley, Macauley Bonne, Albie Morgan, Chris Solly, Naby Sarr (Alfie Doughty 58).
Subs not used: Adam Matthews, Adedeji Oshilaja, Ashley Maynard-Brewer, James Venning.
Booked: Gallagher 35, Brown 59, Shinnie 89, Potts 90.
Referee: Darren England.
Attendance: 10,004 (Charlton 1,032).