Hatters defeat Fleetwood to move into second spot

Harry Cornick celebrates making it 1-0 to Luton this afternoon
Harry Cornick celebrates making it 1-0 to Luton this afternoon

League One: Luton Town 2 Fleetwood Town 0

Luton climbed into the League One automatic promotion places for the first time this season after beating Fleetwood Town at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.

With Sunderland's game at Accrington abandoned due a waterlogged pitch on 75 minutes when the scores were 1-1, it means the Hatters leapfrogged the Black Cats into second spot.

Unlike previous home wins against Bradford and Plymouth which were down to scintillating attacking play and goals galore, this was very much a match where, on a heavy surface, sleeves had to be well and truly rolled up to grind out another vital three points.

That the hosts did, showing no signs of the weaknesses that Cod Army boss Joey Barton had mentioned in the build-up to the contest, with defenders Sonny Bradley and Matty Pearson superb once more, while Andrew Shinnie produced another excellent display both in an attacking and defensive sense.

Luton kept an unchanged starting 11 for the ninth league and FA Cup game in a row, although there was a welcome return to the bench for midfielder Luke Berry, back in the match day squad for a league game for the first time this campaign.

The visitors, who came with a line-up packed with experience and high profile players, including Ross Wallace and Dean Marney, threatened first, Ched Evans escaping the attentions of Bradley and shooting at James Shea.

However, Town had the lead with their first effort of note, James Justin setting Shinnie away, he reached the byline and delivered a cross that saw James Collins pressure keeper Alex Cairns, the loose ball prodded home by Harry Cornick for a third goal in three games.

Justin then had a go himself, curling narrowly wide, while the visitors' right back Ryan Taylor put a potshot well over just before the half hour mark.

Cornick tried his luck from far further away, sending a bouncing effort off target, while Dean Marney's header wide flashed wide as goalmouth chances were far and far between for either side.

Hatters took until the 41st minute to really threaten extending their advantage, Cornick doing well to win the ball back inside his own half and find League One's Player of the Month Elliot Lee.

Collins then got involved as well, with Shinnie hanging up a cross for Cornick to nod wide of the target.

After the break, Marney put a 25 yarder straight at Shea, as the game became something of a war of attrition, the visitors effectively denying Luton any space, with Town happy to keep their opponents at arms length.

Home boss Nathan Jones brought on Danny Hylton for Cornick on 71 minutes and Town's sub had screams for a penalty for handball turned away, Lee shooting over top after being teed up by Shinnie.

Luton did have breathing space with 10 to go though and it was thanks to Hylton, as he escaped on the left when Shea's long clearance was missed by Taylor.

On the byline, he sent the ball into the box where it cannoned off the unfortunate visiting skipper Craig Morgan, giving Cairns no chance at all.

That led to a late flurry of action, Glen Rea, who once again was an integral force at the base of the diamond, beating Cairns with a header, only to see it whacked off the line.

Shea then had to make a comfortable save from Paddy Madden to ensure he kept a third successive clean sheet and seventh in 10 games, showing once more just how solid Town's defence despite moving up a level this term.

In injury time, Jones gave Berry the reception he deserved after battling back from that horrific injury suffered against Colchester in March, as he made a first appearance in the league since that day, given a standing ovation by the 8,500 Luton fans in attendance.

They were soon off their seats again when the final whistle went to celebrate another win, which put Luton, albeit having now played two games more, into the promotion spots.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, James Justin, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Glen Rea (C), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie (Luke Berry 90), Elliot Lee (Dan Potts 88), James Collins, Harry Cornick (Danny Hylton 71).

Subs not used: Marek Stech, Alan Sheehan, Jorge Grant, Kazenga LuaLua.

Fleetwood: Alex Cairns, Jason Holt, Ashley Eastham, Ched Evans, Paddy Madden, Ryan Taylor (Conor McAleny 87) Craig Morgan (C), Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, James Husband (Kyle Dempsey 12, Ash Hunter 65), Nathan Sheron.

Subs not used: Cian Bolger, Paul Jones, Harrison Biggins, Lewis Baines.

Referee: Nick Kinseley.

Booked: Dempsey 22, Wallace 62, Lee 87, Marney 89.

Attendance: 8,528 (61 Fleetwood).