Hatters undone by Stoke City once more as they fall to narrow defeat at Kenilworth Road

Championship: Luton Town 0 Stoke City 1

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 6th November 2021, 5:55 pm
Updated Monday, 8th November 2021, 1:38 pm
Harry Cornick is put under pressure against Stoke this afternoon
Harry Cornick is put under pressure against Stoke this afternoon

Luton Town's poor record against Stoke City continued at Kenilworth Road this afternoon as they fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat.

The visitors quite literally stunk out the place at times, as from the moment that Jacob Brown gave them the lead on 34 minutes, they employed some of the most blatant time-wasting tactics not seen in Bedfordshire since the likes of Wycombe were in town.

Referee Jonathan Moss didn't help, failing to clamp down on the tactics earlier, but with two players booked for delaying the play before 70 minutes had elapsed it showed you what the Hatters were up against.

Luton didn't do enough themselves though, too ponderous in possession as they failed to ever show the kind of fluency which has seen them run past Coventry and Peterborough, also sticking three in Middlesbrough's net on Tuesday night, with their final ball poor all afternoon.

Hatters boss Nathan Jones two changes, Amari'i Bell and Allan Campbell coming in, the latter for his first start in almost two months after suffering ligament damage against Blackburn Rovers, with Henri Lansbury suspended and Dan Potts missing out.

Town began at a good pace, Sonny Bradley's header from James Bree's corner drawing a flying save out of Josef Bursik, even though it looked to be going wide of the target.

An unmarked Harry Cornick was then sprung free inside the area from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's first time pass, but with more time on his hands than he imagined, could only divert tamely at the visiting keeper.

Despite not featuring much in the final third, Stoke almost went ahead on 20 minutes when a dangerous corner from the left was turned back at the far post, for the lurking Leo Ostigard, who looked destined to score, only for Gabe Osho to make an excellent block to keep it goalless.

Just as had happened on Tuesday night though, the Hatters fell behind when they were opened up on their left and Romaine Sawyers advanced before picking out Jacob Brown inside the six yard box to slide home, almost a carbon copy of Middlesbrough's opener in midweek.

After the break, referee Moss, a regular Premier League official booked Danny Batth for delaying a throw and then Ostigard for pulling back Bell via his neck as he looked to break.

Town did finally start to look like they were capable of getting back into the match, Bree's cross from the right glancing off the top of Harry Cornick's head and away.

That was one of Cornick's last actions, replaced by Admiral Muskwe, with Reece Burke making way for Fred Onyedinma in a bid to try and improve the hosts' attacking options.

Still Luton struggled to make a breakthrough though, with Stoke looking pretty impregnable, making their three goal capitulation in just five minutes against Cardiff last weekend al the more surprising.

Town should have levelled on 68 minutes though, when both subs combined, as Onyedinma won the ball back on the left and his cross was met by Muskwe just a few yards from goal, only for the former Leicester man to see his header cannon against the bar and away.

Visiting stopper Bursik then picked up a mysterious injury to try and halt any momentum Town were building, although he too was booked by Moss for his failure to restart play quickly enough.

Stoke didn't look too interested in trying to double their lead, more just maintain their advantage by any means necessary, although Simon Sluga had to be alert to tip over Mario Vrancic's wickedly inswinging corner.

Late on, Bree shot disappointingly, summing up Town's efforts at goal, before he couldn't get a decent touch on a low cross that bounced through the area, ahead of six minutes of stoppage time.

Muskwe again might have restored parity at the death, but he couldn't get his body position correctly to turn home, as even though Sluga was sent up for two late corners, Luton couldn't level, as their winless run against Stoke extended to 11 meetings, stretching back to December 2000.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Reece Burke (Admiral Muskwe 63), Sonny Bradley, Kal Naismith, Amari'i Bell, Gabe Osho (Jordan Clark 81), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Allan Campbell, Harry Cornick (Fred Onyedinma 63), Elijah Adebayo.

Subs not used: James Shea, Danny Hylton, Glen Rea, Cameron Jerome.

Potters: Josef Bursik, Tommy Smith (Ben Wilmot 76), Joe Allen ©, Danny Batth, Steven Fletcher (Mario Vrancic 64) , Josh Tymon, Jordan Thompson, Jacob Brown (Sam Surridge 84), Leo Ostigard, Romaine Sawyers, Harry Souttar.

Subs not used: Adam Davies, James Chester, Tyrese Campbell, Tom Ince.

Bookings: Batth 48, Ostigard 51, Smith 65, Campbell 71, Brown 80.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Attendance: 10,068.