Collins bags the winner as Hatters claim a terrific victory in Rotherham

Championship: Rotherham United 0 Luton Town 1
Hatters ran out 1-0 winners at Rotherham United this eveningHatters ran out 1-0 winners at Rotherham United this evening
Hatters ran out 1-0 winners at Rotherham United this evening

A sparkling second half performance saw Luton secure their third win on the road this season, as James Collins' 70th minute goal was enough to sink hosts Rotherham United.

The striker sprung into action, with a clever volleyed finish from Luke Berry's excellent free kick to decide the contest at the New York Stadium, propelling his side up to ninth in the table.

An away win had looked increasingly unlikely in the first period, with the Hatters definitely second best and lucky to be on level terms at the break, the Millers dominating proceedings.

However, they couldn't capitalise, as Town clung on and with a much improved display after the interval, managed to gain a third victory in Yorkshire this season, all by the same scoreline, 1-0.

Hatters boss Nathan Jones sprung some major surprises with his team selection ahead of the fixture, making six changes from the team who lost 3-0 to Brentford on Saturday.

In came George Moncur for his first league start since August 2019, with Harry Cornick also back from injury, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Joe Morrell, Berry and Collins all starting too.

That meant Tom Lockyer and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu dropped to the bench, joined by Sam Nombe and the fit-again James Bree, with Danny Hylton, Jordan Clark, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall missing out completely.

Town lined up with a new-look back four, Matty Pearson and Martin Cranie the full backs, with Glen Rea partnering Sonny Bradley in the centre.

The visitors were indebted to Simon Sluga for keeping the scores goalless on 14 minutes, as the keeper made a superb stop to prevent Jamie Lindsay's 20-yard curler from finding the corner, moving across impressively to palm away at full stretch.

With the Millers causing a number of problems on either flank through Mickel Miller and Florian Jozefzoon in particular when isolating Cranie, it was the latter who teed up Wes Harding for a cross that Lindsay cleverly flicked goalwards, Sluga again to the rescue, tipping behind.

Luton had to wait until midway through the half to even threaten an opportunity, Berry's cross-shot blocked away, with Cornick's follow-up unable to pick out a team-mate.

They then enjoyed a first spell of concerted territory, Cornick unveiling some tricks to beat his man, his ball in deflecting off Angus MacDonald to keeper Jamal Blackman.

Sluga's next work was far easier, gathering Michael Smith's volley, after yet more good skill by Jozefzoon, the former Dutch U21 international on loan from Derby County, after costing the Rams £2.75m last season, while Dan Barlaser blasted a hopeful free kick into the empty stands from 25 yards.

The Croatian then collected another Smith header, but on 42 minutes, an under the cosh Hatters should have been in front.

Collins did excellently to burst into the box and pick out Moncur, who took his effort first time when he might have gone on, forcing Jamal Blackman to parry for a corner.

Another set-piece almost led to an opener for the visitors, as Sonny Bradley was picked out by Berry, only to head waywardly after team-mate Cornick got in his way.

With Luton finishing strongly, they were inches away on the stroke of half time through a very unlikely source, Pearson bursting to the edge of the box, his left footed skimmer flashing inches wide.

Hatters chief Jones brought on Mpanzu for Morrell at the break in a bid to pep up his side's energy in midfield, but it was United who began on the front foot again, Jozefzoon, as he had been before the interval the main tormentor, Smith putting another header over the top.

Town then started to gain the ascendancy themselves and had a glorious opening on 55 minutes, Moncur delivering a wonderful low cross that Collins somehow failed to convert from a matter of yards, the ball hitting a defender and going behind.

Within 60 seconds, the visitors had another fantastic opportunity, keeper Blackman failing to collect a deep cross, Cornick unable to beat the covering Michael Ihiekwe on the line.

Still Luton kept coming,enjoying their best spell of the game, Berry having a pop from 20 yards, Blackman able to turn the effort behind as the Hatters finally started to win the ball back in advanced areas and apply some real pressure.

An end-to-end affair saw Miller go close for the Millers, Pearson able to get a crucial block on his close-range effort.

Luton then did get the goal that their second half display deserved on 70 minutes.

Kazenga LuaLua, on for Cornick, won a free kick on the right that Berry whipped in for Collins to get across the near post and volley past Blackman for his fifth of the season.

Hatters simply had to extend their lead five minutes later, when Mpanzu fed Moncur who ran clean through from half-way, but faced with Blackman, could only chip tamely at the keeper who simply stood his ground and caught the woeful effort.

Town continued to press though, Berry beating his man in the area and Blackman as well with an angled drive, but not the woodwork, Collins unable to twist his body in time for the rebound.

Rotherham weren't out of the contest either though, Barlaser scooping a very presentable opportunity over the top from 12 yards, sub George Hirst sending a hopeful 22-yarder across goal and then directing a header well wide.

However, it was Town who finished strongly, seeing the game out in a real professional manner to claim yet another three points on the road.

Millers: Jamal Blackman, Joe Mattock (Matt Crooks 11), Ben Wiles, Mickel Miller, Jamie Lindsay, Wes Harding, Michael Ihiekwe ©, Angus MacDonald, Michael Smith (George Hirst 59), Dan Barlaser, Florian Jozefzoon (Freddie Ladapo 80).

Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Richard Wood, Kyle Vassell, reddie Ladapo, Kieran Sadlier.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, Matty Pearson, Martin Cranie, Glen Rea, Sonny Bradley ©, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Joe Morrell (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 46), Luke Berry, George Moncur (Tom Lockyer 89), Harry Cornick (Kazenga LuaLua 64), James Collins.

Subs not used: James Shea, Elliot Lee, James Bree, Sam Nombe.

Booked: Miller 77, Berry 90.

Referee: Andrew Madley.