League Two: Plymouth Argyle 0 Luton Town 3
A supreme away performance saw Luton begin the League Two season in truly magnificent style with an emphatic 3-0 win at Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.
Boss Nathan Jones had been targeting a fast start to the campaign and boy did he get just that, as second half goals from Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott and Jonathan Smith, propelled Hatters to the top of the table.
After weathering an early burst, the style and at times sheer dominance that Luton displayed, will have pleased the manager no end either, as his side were thoroughly deserving of their triumph.
Hatters had seen their pre-game plans disrupted prior to kick-off due to an injury to skipper Alan Sheehan, who walked to the side-lines, clearly grimacing, with what was later diagnosed as a calf injury, replaced by Scott Cuthbert, whose first job was to don the captain’s armband for the coin toss.
The opening was fast and furious with Argyle definitely claiming the early ascendancy, working a number of decent opening outside of the area, through Graham Carey and the exuberance of debutante David Ijaha, but couldn’t send anything serious at Christian Walton’s goal.
Whether shaken by the early alteration to their side, Luton, who had given debuts to Walton, Hylton, Johnny Mullins and Jordan Cook, took a good 10 minutes to really regain their composure, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu collecting Stephen O’Donnell’s ball to win a corner, while a quick break saw Hylton fail to pick out Cameron McGeehan.
Hylton was walking something of a disciplinary tightrope from 25 minutes in, booked for leaving his foot in, as Hatters had a marvellous chance soon after, an unmarked Glen Rea putting his header over by a country mile.
That led to the game opening up, with David Goodwillie’s acrobatic volley flying wide, before Mpanzu was found by Cook, and his cross reached Jack Marriott whose toe-poke goalwards flicked off Yann Songo’o and into Luke McCormick’s grateful gloves.
Mullins put a header over from Cook’s delivery, while he was then back in his rightful position to block a home attack behind for a corner.
Argyle’s efforts were mainly from range, Carey narrowly wide from a free kick, while Town’s summer addition Cook, who impressed all afternoon when running with the ball at the opposition, did so again, finding Hylton whose first time curler didn’t quite have the bend required.
Once into the game, Hatters impressed, particularly on the break, and they did so immediately after the interval, with Hylton sending Marriott scampering away, whose low attempt was parried by McCormick.
Walton was then called into action as well, using his legs well to repel Goodwillie’s low drive, before the deadlock was broken on 50 minutes.
It came about through some classic hold-up play from Hylton, who once again showed his strength to find the waiting Stephen O’Donnell.
His wonderful cross from the right was missed by Marriott but rebounded to Hylton who slammed his first goal for the club past McCormick.
Hatters kept Argyle at arms length from then on to deny their hosts any real opportunities of pegging them back, with both centre halves magnificent in repelling anything that came their way.
Carey put another ambitious free kick over, although it was Town whom despite their advantage, never attempted to kill the game, as they showed a refreshing will to score again, McGeehan opting to go from distance when others were better placed.
However, he was the architect of Hatters’ second on 69 minutes, sending last year’s top scorer Marriott clear, as he easily had the pace to sprint away from Songo’o and then calmly beat McCormick.
Walton had to be alert as Jimmy Spencer raced through to Carey’s lofted pass, but couldn’t dink his effort over the onrushing keeper, who controlled his area impressively, keeping a richly deserved clean sheet.
Cuthbert almost topped his sterling show with the third only prevented by McCormick’s reflexes, before the only slight blot on Luton’s copybook saw full back Dan Potts harshly dismissed late on for his second bookable offence.
However, there was still time for a third and it arrived when rather than opt to run down time in the corner, Hylton, who showed just why Jones was so keen to sign him this term, decided to head for goal.
It was vindicated entirely as late sub Jonathan Smith’s angled drive squirmed under the dive of McCormick to send Luton to the top of the tree and complete the perfect afternoon.
Argyle: Luke McCormick (C), Gary Miller, Gary Sawyer, Yann Songo’o, David Goodwillie (Jordan Slew 75), Jimmy Spencer, Graham Carey, Ryan Donaldson (David Fox 75), Sonny Bradley, Oscar Threkeld, David Ijaha (Jake Jervis 65).
Subs: Connor Smith, Ben Purrington, Louis Rooney, Vincent Dorel.
Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Johnny Mullins, Scott Cuthbert , Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Jake Gray 90), Jordan Cook (Jonathan Smith 88), Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott (Olly Lee 90).
Subs not used: Craig King, Isaac Vassell, Josh McQuoid, James Justin.
Bookings: Hylton 25, Miller 46, Mpanzu 56, Potts 69.
Red cards: Potts 90.
Attendance: 9,761 (1,094 Hatters).