Dismal Luton fall to Cambridge loss

Blue Square Bet Premier

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 28th September 2011, 9:31 am

Luton Town 0 (0) Cambridge United 1 (0)

CLUELESS Luton suffered their second straight defeat as they stuttered to a 1-0 home loss against a workmanlike Cambridge United side last night, writes Mark Wood.

Up against his former club, manager Gary Brabin’s side lacked the spark and creativity to break the U’s down who grabbed victory on the hour through Rory McAuley’s looping header.

City then shut up shop and coasted to their first ever league win at Kenilworth Road, easily repelling struggling Town’s pursuit of an equaliser as they fell to ninth in the table.

The Hatters made two changes from the team that faltered to a terrible 3-0 defeat at York City on Saturday.

With Alex Lawless out after breaking his hand and John Paul Kissock dropping to the bench, in came top scorer Amari Morgan-Smith after his one-match ban and striker Danny Crow to face his former club.

Town started the night by playing some crisp passing football and they should have taken the lead on 11 minutes when Stuart Fleetwood jinked his way into the box and rolled the ball across the face of goal but found no takers.

Another gilt-edged opportunity went begging two minutes later.

Ex-Cambridge star Robbie Willmott broke on the left and whipped in a wonderful cross that Crow glanced goalwards, only to be denied by a brilliant one-handed stop from Danny Naisbitt.

With the goal yawning, Morgan-Smith raced in but could only fire into the side netting from an acute angle with James Jennings throwing himself in the way.

It was Luton playing all the football and James Dance’s 24th minute cross was superbly dummied by Crow in the box but Fleetwood could only send a sharp half-volley miles over the bar.

Tom Shaw sent a speculative long range effort well wide, while Janos Kovacs’ brilliant long pass was taken on by Morgan-Smith but McAuley was in the right place to deflect over the bar.

Most of the U’s play targeted makeshift right-back Dance, but they offered few moments of threat.

Former Hatters midfielder Rossi Jarvis struck straight at Mark Tyler on 32 minutes, before Shaw’s sizzling long-range drive forced a wonderful flying full-stretch stop from the Luton keeper two minutes later.

With Jamie Hand and Keith Keane in midfield, Luton lacked the guile to regularly trouble the Cambridge defence and, although there were flashes of creativity, Town couldn’t find the killer ball.

City started the second half with two great chances to take the lead, both falling to Luke Berry.

His first on 48 minutes from a tight angle was turned behind by Tyler before he found himself in space on the edge of the box two minutes later but stroked tamely at the keeper.

At the other end Jake Howells whistled wide from the edge of the box, before another Willmott delivery went begging.

Peter Winn replied in kind as he fired a cross across Luton’s six yard box and Shaw then flashed a great chance wide as United threatened to break the deadlock.

Crow was replaced by Aaron O’Connor while ex-Hatter Ryan Charles received a warm welcome on his return before the U’s snatched the lead out of the blue.

They overloaded the back post on the hour and a deep cross was headed back across goal by McAuley, looping over Tyler and into the net.

O’Connor just couldn’t connect with Keane’s cross as Town searched for an equaliser, but in truth it was a frustrating evening as the home fans started to vent their anxieties.

Brabin introduced Kissock in a desperate bid to spark some life into Luton.

Morgan-Smith fired wildly over while Adam Watkins too was brought on for some inspiration, but basic errors let Luton down as they failed to play through the midfield.

Cambridge couldn’t clear a corner with three minutes to go but Morgan-Smith swept over.

Four minutes of injury time were added as Kovacs was thrown forward in the dying moments but it made no difference as Cambridge held out to make for a miserable night for Luton’s fans as boos rang out at the final whistle.

Hatters (4-4-2): Mark Tyler, Keith Keane (C), Amari Morgan-Smith, Danny Crow (Aaron O’Connor 59), Robbie Willmott (John Paul Kissock 77), Stuart Fleetwood, Jake Howells, Will Antwi, James Dance, Jamie Hand (Adam Watkins 84), Janos Kovacs. Substitutes not used: Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Kevin Pilkington.

U’s (4-4-2): Danny Naisbitt, Kevin Roberts, James Jennings (C), Josh Coulson, Tom Shaw, Michael Gash (Ryan Charles 59), Ashley Carew, Rory McAuley, Rossi Jarvis, Luke Berry, Peter Winn (Harrison Dunk 78). Substitutes not used: Keiran Murtagh, Jordan Patrick, Ismail Yakubu.

Booking: Roberts 68; Keane 88.

Referee: A Davies.

Assistant Referees: D Jacecko and M Rushton.

Fourth Official: A Neil.

Attendance: 6,274 (Cambridge 522).

Star Hatter: Keith Keane. Plenty of effort, but that alone is not enough.

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