League Two: Yeovil Town 3 Luton Town 2
Luton Town’s supposed charge to the League Two title this season continues to blow up in their faces as they slumped to defeat at Yeovil Town this afternoon.
Although nothing is ever won in August, the manner of Hatters’ loss was cause for real concern, as leading 2-0 with just 18 minutes gone, they somehow contrived to let their advantage slip, to eventually and criminally, leave Huish Park with nothing.
To put things into context, this was a Glovers side who went into the match without a single league point, or a goal in all competitions since the opening day, so the ease in which they found the net three times, is already a huge worry.
The result also means Hatters are yet to taste victory in League Two themselves, slipping to third bottom in the table.
It could and without doubt should have been all so different too as the visitors made three changes for the clash, Danny Green finally restored to the starting line-up after the opening day draw at Accrington, while Ryan Hall came in for his first start of the season.
Jonathan Smith completed the trio of alterations, replacing the injured Nathan Doyle, with Stephen O’Donnell and Paddy McCourt dropping to the bench.
Hatters boss John Still also ditched his much criticised 3-5-2 system utilised for the last three matches, reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, with Green and Hall on either wing.
After failing to even test Bristol Rovers’ keeper during Tuesday night’s woeful defeat, Town took just four minutes to make a mockery of that stat through summer signing Craig Mackail-Smith.
The striker picked up a flick from Paul Benson and then arrowed an absolutely stunning dipping volley, that was in from the moment it left his boot, over Glovers keeper Artur Krysiak.
Town almost had a second on 17 minutes when the ball was cleared out to Hall and his magnificent volley flew inches over, with the aid of a slight deflection.
From the corner, it was 2-0 though as although Green’s delivery was poor, Smith never gave up the loose ball, with Luke Wilkinson hooking an effort over Krysiak and Benson tapping home from a yard.
Yeovil, as expected for a side without a point all season, looked bereft of confidence, with supporters already voicing their frustration at what was on offer.
However, Luton appeared to think they had done enough, dropping their tempo, as Matthew Dolan shot hopefully at Tyler from 25 yards, while Hall’s complacent pass saw Shaun Jeffers force the keeper to save low down.
On 38 minutes, Yeovil were back in the contest too as Town switched off from a free kick, with Connor Roberts delivering an inch-perfect cross allowing towering centre half Stephen Arthurworrey to outjump Steve McNulty and head beyond Tyler.
That saw the hosts finish the half strongly, with Dolan’s long ranger turned behind by the now over-worked Luton stopper.
McNulty was also left walking a disciplinary tightrope after being booked for a cynical foul on Jeffers, and receiving two more clear warnings from referee Simon Hooper, he looked a red card waiting to happen.
That forced boss Still into the only option available at the break, withdrawing his skipper, with Mark O’Brien on for his league in his preferred central defensive role.
Benson almost had his second of the afternoon, diverting Wilkinson’s cross goalwards, only to be denied by a fine Krysiak save, while Cameron McGeehan’s thunderous effort bravely blocked by Jakub Sokolik, before the hosts brought on Ryan Bird and their fortunes suddenly changed.
On 63 minutes, they were level as with Scott Griffiths sucked out of position yet again, Harry Cornick picked out an offside looking Bird to tap home from close range.
Huish Park was then caught in a rainstorm of truly tropical proportions and Luton’s advantage was washed away completely, when Arthurworrey broke out of defence.
Although tackled as he charged forward, the loose ball ran through to Bird for the sub to produce an unerring finish beyond Tyler.
Still had already rung the changes by this point, bringing on Alex Lawless and Paddy McCourt, but Hatters laboured in the closing stages, never looking like threatening a leveller.
If anything, it was Yeovil who almost added to their tally, although Town almost got out of jail wit the aid of a fluke in stoppage time, when Griffiths’ over-hit cross cannoned off the top of Krysiak’s crossbar.
Hatters now have to somehow lift themselves for the visit Premier League Stoke City on Tuesday night, before an even more important league clash with Portsmouth at the weekend.
Glovers: Artur Krysiak, Nathan Smith (C), Matthew Dolan, Stephen Arthurworrey, Jakub Sokolik, Shaun Jeffers (Ryan Bird 61), Jack Compton (Ifeanyi Allen 74), Alex Lacey, Harry Cornick, Connor Roberts, Joshua Wakefield.
Subs not used: Christopher Weale, Jamie Burrows, Omar Sowunmi, Mark Beck, David Norris.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Scott Cuthbert, Steve McNulty (Mark O’Brien 46), Luke Wilkinson, Scott Griffiths, Danny Green (Paddy McCourt 66), Cameron McGeehan, Jonathan Smith, Ryan Hall (Alex Lawless 59), Paul Benson, Craig Mackail-Smith.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Josh McQuoid, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Stephen O’Donnell.
Referee: Simon Hooper.
Booked: McNulty 32, Roberts 87, J Smith 88.
Hatters MOM: Jonathan Smith - wholehearted display in central midfield once more.