Hatters showcase their play-off credentials with excellent victory over Baggies

Championship: Luton Town 2 West Bromwich Albion 0

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 19th February 2022, 6:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 12:06 pm
Cameron Jerome powers home his header against West Bromwich Albion
Cameron Jerome powers home his header against West Bromwich Albion

Luton Town further showcased their play-off credentials with a terrific victory against former Premier League side West Bromwich Albion this afternoon.

The Baggies, who have their own top flight ambitions, appointing hugely experienced manager Steve Bruce recently, and turning up with a side containing former England forward Andy Carroll, represented a real test of just where Nathan Jones' side are this term, and it was one they passed with flying colours.

Although the hosts' goal lived a charmed life at times during the opening 45 minutes, once Cameron Jerome's bullet header had put Town ahead early in the second period, they never looked like being pegged back, Allan Campbell continuing his recent scoring spree late on to put the result beyond doubt.

Jones made four changes to the side who lost 3-0 at Birmingham City last weekend, with goalkeeper Jed Steer in for his league debut, James Shea dropping to the bench.

Gabe Osho, Admiral Muskwe and Jerome all came in too, Henri Lansbury and Harry Cornick among the substitutes, Reece Burke missing out entirely.

The hosts made a bright start against their fellow top six chasers, one fine move started by Kal Naismith's clever crossfield pass to Tom Lockyer.

Play was shifted into Elijah Adebayo whose flick released Lockyer on the right, the Welsh international's his low cross backheeled goalwards by Muskwe, Sam Johnstone gathering.

The imposing Carroll was quick to show his aerial prowess, meeting a cross from the right, Steer making a comfortable save, before Jerome almost picked out the stretching Muskwe at the other end.

Albion began to look capable of taking a stranglehold on proceedings for the first time, dominating possession, Matt Clarke advancing and heading Conor Townsend's cross wide.

A solid start by Steer was almost spoilt on 20 minutes, as his poor kick was chested down by Osho, allowing Carroll to nip in.

He played in Karlan Grant whose shot looked to be easy for the stopper, but it squirmed through his grasp, fortunately rolling just the right side of the post for anyone of a Hatters persuasion.

Steer did recover to punch the resulting corner clear, as Luton remained a threat themselves, Jerome letting a throw run across him and sending a snapshot from 25 yards wide.

The Villa loanee further redeemed himself six minutes before half time, as with his defence unable to clear the ball, he used his feet to prevent Carroll from firing the visitors in front, another break also seeing Alex Mowatt curl over.

Town were almost behind with a goal entirely of their own making shortly afterwards, Naismith trying the most ill-advised dinked pass across his own box, only managing to find the lurking Grant.

He took a touch and dinked the onrushing Steer, the crossbar coming to Luton's rescue, Carroll's rebound palmed away by the Hatters custodian, as the Hatters' back-line eventually did enough to clear.

Townsend went close at the back post, his header hooked away by Osho, as Town regained their composure to set off on a driving counter of their own, Campbell running 50 yards to pick out Jerome.

The forward did almost everything right, taking the pass in his stride, sliding a low shot past Johnstone, only to see it hit the inside of the post, and then cleared behind.

After the break, the Hatters had the lead on 55 minutes when Naismith swung in a free kick from the left which met by Jerome's towering header for his third of the season and first league goal for the club.

Adebayo might have added to Town's advantage when Townsend's pass was bafflingly left by both centre halves, the forward didn't take it first time on his left foot though, eventually crowded out.

Clarke stabbed a half chance over at the other end, as Luton should have had a penalty on 74 minutes, when Osho's header was clearly handed by Kyle Bartley, only for referee Gavin Ward to give nothing.

Town had the confidence-booster of a second with six minutes left, as they worked a throw-in neatly on the left, and Campbell took it on, before from 22 yards out, cutting across his shot expertly to leave Johnstone with little chance and make it four goals in his last nine league outings.

Late on, Carroll thundered his own header against the crossbar from close range, as the Baggies, for him Darnell Furlong tamely put his attempt straight at Steer, saw their away drought since early December continue.

Victory not only lifted Town above their opponents and into eight spot, just three points off the top six now, but it was also their first home success against the Baggies since May 3, 1994, when John Hartson, David Preece and Julian James were all on target.

Hatters: Jed Steer, James Bree (Peter Kioso 90), Amari'i Bell, Gabe Osho, Tom Lockyer, Kal Naismith (C), , Allan Campbell, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Admiral Muskwe (Henri Lansbury 63), Cameron Jerome (Danny Hylton 84), Elijah Adebayo.

Subs not used: James Shea, Dan Potts, Harry Cornick, Fred Onyedinma.

Baggies: Sam Johnstone, Darnell Furlong, Conor Townsend, Kyle Barley ©, Semi Ajayi, Jayson Molumby, Andy Carroll, Matt Clarke (Grady Diangana 68), Karlan Grant, Adam Reach, Alex Mowatt (Callum Robinson 78).

Subs not used: Dara O'Shea, Cedric Kipre, David Button, Rayhaam Tulloch, Taylor Gardner-Hickman.

Booked: Ajayi 29, Bell 36.

Referee: Gavin Ward.

Attendance: 10,029.