League Two: Newport County 3 Luton Town 0
Luton Town completed an unenviable symmetry this afternoon as yet another late capitulation saw Newport County record their first victory of the season at Rodney Parade.
The Exiles’ long winless run at Rodney Parade had stretched back to March 17, some eight months and 13 games ago, when you guessed it, they beat Luton 1-0.
However, at the interval, it looked like Luton were on their way to a point at the very least in, what were horrific conditions, as they had looked the better of two sides.
But a stunning cameo from striker Oliver McBurnie, borrowed from Premier League Swansea City on Thursday saw him take to the field on 58 minutes and score a 23-minute hat-trick, while Luton sent virtually nothing Joe Day’s way.
To make matters worse, the result saw Hatters fall to 13th in the table, some six points behind the play-offs, with automatic promotion already starting to look beyond them at this relatively early stage, with a 14-point deficit.
The visitors made one change from Tuesday night’s 4-3 defeat to Carlisle United as Luke Wilkinson came in at the back, with Mark O’Brien dropping out of the squad completely.
Magnus Okuonghae was named on the bench alongside Nathan Doyle, while Scott Cuthbert retained the captaincy.
In what were horrific conditions for football, driving rain and a swirling wind, the visitors made a bright enough start to proceedings as Josh McQuoid’s cross was half cleared and Alex Lawless sent a left footer straight at Day.
Although Newport were playing some decent stuff for a side struggling near the bottom, they didn’t have a great deal of threat in the final third as Luton were denied an opener by the brilliance of home keeper Day.
Danny Green picked the ball up 25 yards out and unleashed a magnificent effort that looked to be flying in, but for Day who palmed it behind at full stretch.
Newport went a full half hour before creating their first real opening as Lenell John-Lewis scuffed wide from the edge of the area.
However, Town went straight up the other end and came within a whisker of the lead as Olly Lee broke up play, then beat two markers with a lovely piece of skill.
Driving forward, he went for goal left-footed with the ball deflecting inches wide.
McQuoid went close himself as McGeehan broke with purpose and fed the striker who saw his curler parried by Day, with the rebound cannoning into Marriott before he could adjust his feet in time.
After the break, Hatters, who were decked out in new shirts, looked like they settled into the soggy surroundings better once more, a neat passing move seeing McGeehan fire over.
Green had another go from a free kick which deflected off the wall and wrong footed Day only to go the wrong side of the post.
However, Newport boss John Sheridan opted to bring on McBurnie just before the hour mark and it was to prove the game’s major turning point.
With one of his first touches, he broke the deadlock, escaping Hatters’ statuesque defending to neatly divert a cross past Tyler on 63 minutes, in what had been the Exiles’ first shot on target.
Luton rung the changes too as Craig Mackail-Smith and Doyle came in for McQuoid and McGeehan.
But rather then seeing their side mount any kind of response, if anything, the visitors retreated into their shells, with Newport grabbing the ascendancy and not letting go.
Medy Elito came close to a second as his low shot was stopped by Tyler who grabbed the loose ball ahead of McBurnie.
Hatters couldn’t make any impression on the home goal though as Day enjoyed an easy second period, while Newport had the comfort of a second goal on 79 minutes.
Alex Rodman tried his luck from distance, the ball skipped up off the turf as this time Tyler couldn’t hang on and McBurnie reacted quickest to fire home.
The striker then had his hat-trick with four minutes remaining, with Tyler at fault as the keeper could only clear as far as Scott Boden, who squared for McBurnie to complete his quickfire treble.
County: Joe Day, Medy Elito, Yan Klukowski (Tommy O’Sullivan 58), Zak Ansah (Oliver McBurnie 58), Lenell John-Lewis (Scott Boden 85), Andrew Hughes, Scot Bennett, Matt Partridge, Alex Rodman, Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Mark Byrne (C).
Subs not used: Joe Green, Matt Taylor, Danny Holmes, Scott Barrow.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Alex Lawless, Scott Griffiths, Scott Cuthbert (C), Luke Wilkinson, Danny Green, Jonathan Smith, Olly Lee (Paddy McCourt 80), Cameron McGeehan (Nathan Doyle 67), Jack Marriott, Josh McQuoid (Craig Mackail-Smith 67).
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Sean Long, Ryan Hall, Nathan Doyle, Magnus Okuonghae.
Attendance: 2,551 (451 Luton).
Referee: David Coote.