Hatters just fail to fight back at Rangers

Harry Cornick pulls one back for the Hatters this afternoon
Harry Cornick pulls one back for the Hatters this afternoon

Championship: QPR 3 Luton Town 2

Luton saw their run of three straight wins ended by QPR in a crazy game at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium this afternoon.

Town looked to be on the end of a severe hiding, falling 3-0 behind within the opening 30 minutes, with Ebere Eze absolutely running the show for R's.

A cricket score looked on the cards for Rangers, but they were then kept out for the remaining hour, as Luton somehow clawed it back to 3-2 early in the second half and almost managed to nab a point.

The Hatters made one change to their side, Izzy Brown making his first league start since arriving from Chelsea on loan, Jacob Butterfield dropping to the bench, while James Collins, fresh from scoring on his international debut for Ireland in the week, lined up for his 100th appearance.

Town were to make a shocking start to the game though, behind on just three minutes, as they were the architects of their own downfall, starting with Brown needlessly giving the ball away outside his own area.

It was fed to Eze and he took aim from 25 yards, his shot bursting through the hands of Simon Sluga, who really should have done much better.

The hosts had settled far quicker than Town, going close again when Brown lost the ball once more upfield, Matty Pearson just about cutting out Jordan Hugill's cross, Ryan Tunnicliffe producing a heroic block from another thunderous Eze attempt.

Eze the R's star in the early stages and it took a wonderful block from Pearson to keep his side 1-0 down, with the midfielder threatening to waltz through.

Town were 2-0 down on 20 minutes, with a goal strike of alarming simplicity, a long ball sent forward from defence, Nahki Wells left completely unmarked to steady himself and easily beat Sluga.

With Luton clearly rocking, Sluga ensured they weren't 3-0 down as he profuced a magnificent save to tip Eze's blast from the edge of the box on to the bar, the rebound just about smuggled away.

Town were being torn to shreds at times in the opening half an hour, grateful to their woodwork again on, when it repelled Eze's close range header.

Luton threatened just the once, Harry Cornick escaping on the right, but with the angle against him, he couldn't find the target.

Rangers were now rampant, looking like scoring with every single attack, Ryan Tunnicliffe making a last-ditch block to prevent Hugill.

They were powerless on the half hour though, completely sliced open at the back, with Wells running through unchallenged to comprehensively find the corner, with a number of Town fans already heading for the exits.

Those who had stayed would have seen Luton give themselves a slither of hope on 36 minutes after a catastrophic error from home keeper Joe Lumley.

Way outside his area, he could only pass the ball to Cornick, who steadied himself, and from a good 30 yards, chipped into the empty net for his third of season.

The goal did little to stop Rangers' domination, Eze only just kept out by Pearson's intervention af full stretch.

The hosts continued dicing with danger at times, another pass picked off by Cornick, this time Luton unable to make the most of their chance.

Kazenga LuaLua's incisive pass almost saw Collins pull a second back, the home side's defence doing well to block the danger.

Wells then should have had his hat-trick on the stroke of half time, guiding a header wide when well placed as Luton went into the break, still with a glimmer of a chance of salvaging something.

That glimmer became even brighter just three minutes into the second period when a deep Andrew Shinnie cross was met at the back post by Cornick, for Collins to turn home from close range.

The atmosophere changed instantly, with Town's away fans starting to believe the fight back was on, while the home supporters could scarcely decipher what they were witnessing.

Pearson made a crucial clearance from another whipped cross into the box, while Bradley stuck out a boot to make an important intervention from Yoann Barbet's long range volley.

Rangers might have been out of sight on 58 minutes, with the sublime Eze weaving his way through Town's defence yet again, setting up Hugill, who could only lift his shot over.

Jones altered his side in the search of an equaliser, Brendan Galloway and George Moncur replacing Luke Bolton and LuaLua.

Rangers should have been out of sight had Hugill had his shooting boots on, found all alone on the penalty spot, only to once more loft wide of Sluga's goal.

He was almost made to pay instantly, Collins denied by a wonderful last-ditch challenge, with Brown not far away from the edge of the box either.

With four to go, sub Moncur forced a decent stop from Lumley after cutting on to his right foot, as Town tried to ramp up the pressure, but they just failed to find the net again, leaving empty-handed.

Rangers: Joe Lumley, Todd Kane (Luke Amos 69), Grant Hall, Jordan Hugill, Ebere Eze, Dominic Ball, Ryan Manning, Ilias Chair (March Pugh 74), Nahki Wells (Jan Mlakar 66), Yoann Barbet, Toni Leistner.

Subs not used: Liam Kelly, Geoff Cameron, Matt Smith, Josh Scowen.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, Luke Bolton (Brendan Galloway 59), James Bree, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Izzy Brown, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Andrew Shinnie, Kazenga LuaLua (George Moncur 66), Harry Cornick (Elliot Lee 79), James Collins.

Subs not used: James Shea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jacob Butterfield, Lloyd Jones.

Booked: Kane 47.

Referee: J Simpson.

Attendance: 16,186.