Hatters ease past Walsall to keep home run going

Glen Rea scores the opener for Luton
Glen Rea scores the opener for Luton

League One: Luton Town 2 Walsall 0

Luton picked up their most comfortable win of the League One season by some way, easing past a disappointing Walsall this afternoon.

The visitors somehow came into the contest unbeaten on their travels this term, but that record never looked like staying intact, as they were comfortably the poorest side to turn up at Kenilworth Road so far.

However, they were definitely made to look that average by an excellent Hatters performance, with the hosts having an extra bite to them, snapping into challenges, the work-rate from one to 11 catching the eye, with skipper Glen Rea in particular superb throughout.

Boss Nathan Jones made two changes from the 3-2 defeat at Barnsley on Saturday, the main one seeing striker Danny Hylton return for his first start since August 25.

Andrew Shinnie also came in, with James Justin and Harry Cornick dropping to the bench, joined by the fit-again Elliot Lee.

The recalled Shinnie went closest early on, his effort deflecting behind for a corner, while Town broke the deadlock on from a set-piece on 20 minutes, worked excellently by Shinnie's drilled pass out to Dan Potts.

From Jorge Grant's delivery, Danny Hylton's header wasn't cleared, with Rea of all people on hand to turn the ball over the line from close range for his first of the season.

The goal saw Walsall try and commit a few men further forward, but any threat was easily dealt with by Luton, who nearly extended their advantage, Grant spinning his man to shoot low at Liam Roberts.

It took the visitors 34 minutes to fashion anything resembling a chance, top scorer Andy Cook's header drifting wide.

Luton were dealt a blow just before half time when Potts pulled up holding his groin and was stretchered off, Justin taking his place.

Shea turned Cook's downward header over the top, while in the second period, Town had another injury scare, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's clearance clattering into Justin's face, as it looked like the replacement was out cold, although thankfully he recovered sufficiently to carry on

Luton had breathing space on 55 minutes when Grant was felled 25 yards from goal by Jon Guthrie and the midfielder took the free kick himself, arrowing his effort beyond Roberts and into the net, for an almost exact replica of his effort against Shrewsbury.

Now with the bit between their teeth, it was almost 3-0 moments later, Justin scuffing against the post and Hylton's follow up hacked off the line.

The visitors, who still offered barely anything upfront, saw sub Connor Ronan crack one hopefully over from 25 yards.

Hylton was inches away from the goal he so desperately wanted on 72 minutes, found by Stacey's pass, he beat his man in the area, but dragged just off target.

Cook blasted over from 20 yards more in hope than expectation, as Luton came on strong for the closing stages, as they looked to extend their advantage.

They could have too, the hard-working Collins leaping well to head over, Shinnie's blast ungainly parried by Roberts.

Sonny Bradley went close, before Mpanzu showed the extra bite that had been apparent in the hosts all afternoon, taking man, ball, the whole lot, to stop a Walsall counter in hits tracks.

Sub Cornick was denied the icing on the cake, excellently taking down fellow sub Kazenga Lualua's cross, Roberts repelling well with his legs.

In stoppage time, Shea was able to throw his cap on Cook's attempt at a consolation, as the Hatters moved up to seventh, now just three points away from the play-offs, with a home game against fourth-placed Accrington to come on Tuesday.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Dan Potts (James Justin 45), Sonny Bradley, Matty Pearson, Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jorge Grant (Kaenga LuaLua 88), Andrew Shinnie, James Collins, Danny Hylton (Harry Cornick 79).

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Alan Sheehan, Elliot Lee, Alan McCormack.

Saddlers: Liam Roberts, Luke Leahy, George Dobson (C), Jon Guthrie, Nicky Devlin (Connor Ronan 62), Andy Cook, Zeli Ismail (Kane Wilson 62), Josh Ginnelly (Josh Gordon 83), Liam Kinsella, Morgan Ferrier, Jack Fitzwater.

Subs not used: Kieron Morris, Chris Dunn, Connor Johnson, Isiah Osbourne.

Booked: Guthrie 54

Referee: Andy Woolmer.

Attendance: 8,953 (504 Walsall).