Luton pay the penalty late on as they fall to undeserved Burnley defeat
Luton were cruelly undone by a penalty for the third game in a row as they fell to an incredibly harsh and totally undeserved 1-0 defeat against champions elect Burnley at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
The Hatters more than matched their opponents, who have one foot back in the Premier League already, for large periods, as it often looked like it was they who were the team that are going to be plying their trade in the top flight next term.
However, as has happened against Coventry and Preston in the last week, Town conceded a spotkick, this time with 12 minutes to go, and Ethan Horvath was once again unable to be the hero, Ashley Barnes making no mistake.
Town chief Rob Edwards made one change to the team who drew 1-1 against Preston, Cody Drameh in for Fred Onyedinma at wingback.
The hosts didn't give an inch in the opening exchanges, creating the best chance on 11 minutes when Elijah Adebayo and Carlton Morris combined well, Adebayo's 20-yard attempt forcing Arijanet Muric into a good stop away to his right.
Tom Lockyer's header was then easily caught by the Clarets custodian, as Luton continued to look the more likely, their high octane pressing game giving the table-toppers some real problems.
On the half hour mark, Burnley had their first real effort when Johann Gudmonsson took aim from a 30-yard free kick and sent it arrowing towards the bottom corner only for Horvath to get across well and turn it behind.
The Hatters were then forced into an early change, Drameh pulling up once more and unable to go on, Alfie Doughty taking his place.
Town managed to keep up their momentum though, impressing all over the pitch as once Jordan Clark was manhandled to the floor, the following free kick saw Mpanzu juggle the ball and then shoot goalwards, Muric gathering.
Edwards’ men should have taken the lead on 38 minutes though, Amari’i Bell picking out the here, there and everywhere Mpanzu, who had ventured into the box.
He in turn fed Adebayo but from just eight yards out, the forward could only sidefoot wastefully over the top.
Still it was Luton who looked the more likely though, Marvelous Nakamba skying an effort almost out of the ground, while Clark's header looked to have sent Mpanzu through on goal, but he ended checking back on himself and then taking the ball away from danger on the stroke of half time.
After the break, Burnley had their first real extended spell as Ian Maatsen looked like he was going to open the scoring, only for Reece Burke to make a terrifically timed and crucial block.
The experienced Barnes then teed himself up, but on his left foot, sliced well wide as the Clarets definitely began to look more like themselves in the second period.
Vincent Kompany’s side were almost in front on 64 minutes, sub Vitino left unmarked from a cross, but there was Lockyer this time to make a stretching block when it looked like he was going to open the scoring.
Moments later and Vitinho looked like he was in again, found in space, but this time he could only drag wide of the target.
With Nakamba off with what looked like cramp, Allan Campbell was introduced and had he sorted his feet out, might have broken the deadlock from a slick move on Luton’s right.
However, just when the Hatters looked like they were going to end Burnley’s proud scoring streak of 28 successive games, they were undone after switching off from a ball over the top, the ball hitting Osho’s arm.
Lockyer was booked for his complaints, as Barnes drove into the bottom corner, while the frustrations boiled over for Town’s skipper, picking up a second yellow from referee Jeremy Simpson before play could restart.
Although Luton didn’t let the numerical disadvantage affect them, they couldn’t force a deserved equaliser, Mpanzu’s snapshot that flew over the bar in the closing stages, the closest they came.
Hatters: Ethan Horvath, Cody Drameh (Alfie Doughty 32), Reece Burke, Tom Lockyer (C), Gabe Osho, Amari'i Bell, Marvelous Nakamba (Allan Campbell 68), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark, Elijah Adebayo, Carlton Morris (Cauley Woodrow 57).
Subs not used: James Shea, Luke Berry, Dan Potts, Joe Taylor.
Clarets: Arijanet Muric, Charlie Taylor, Jack Cork (C), Johan Gudmundsson (Anass Zaroury 54, Lyle Foster 90), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Barnes, Connor Roberts, Hjalmar Ekdal, Nathan Tella (Vitinho 61), Josh Cullen, Ian Maatsen.
Subs not used: Scott Twine, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Anass Zaroury, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Michael Obafemi.
Bookings: Brownhill 35, Lockyer 79, Adebayo 80.
Sent off: Lockyer 80.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson.
Attendance: 10,066 (1,026 Clarets).