EFL Cup, second round: Luton Town 0 Leeds United 1
Missed chances once again proved pivotal as Luton Town were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Championship side Leeds this evening.
Although the hosts couldn’t quite hit the heights of their previous round victory over Aston Villa, they were still pretty darn good, particularly in the second period, building up a real head of steam, but ultimately, only had themselves to blame for failing to progress.
Twice, Jack Marriott went clean through and with the whole ground expecting the net to ripple, last season’s leading scorer couldn’t hit the target, firing disappointingly wide of the target on both occasions.
Defeat was incredibly harsh on the hosts though, as Leeds might have kept their opponents at arms length during the first period, it was a different story after the break, with Hatters by far the more dominant side, but crucially, couldn’t make the most of the opportunities.
Town boss Nathan Jones made two changes, recalling Johnny Mullins after his suspension in place of Scott Cuthbert who dropped to the bench, while Jonathan Smith made his first start of the season, in place of Jordan Cook.
The hosts completely bossed possession for the opening 15 minutes, with Leeds reduced to chasing shadows at times, although they couldn’t fashion anything clear-cut at Marco Silvestri’s goal, Olly Lee’s 30-yarder flying over, as did Cameron McGeehan’s swerving long range free kick.
Despite Luton’s monopoly of the ball, it was Leeds who went in front on 23 minutes with a wonderful strike from debutant Tyler Denton, who sent a glorious first time effort with the outside of his left foot past Christian Walton.
With their confidence boosted from the opening goal, Leeds started to take a semblance of the ascendancy, Kemar Roofe hooking a wonderfully acrobatic volley against the angle of post and bar, with Walton blocking Dallas’ fierce follow up.
Hatters finally tested Silvestri on 35 minutes, Marriott’s blast from the edge of the box requiring the keeper to tip over.
Uniteed could have had the killer second themselves moments later as Lee gave the ball away cheaply and the visitors broke in a flash, with Souleymane Doukara bearing down on Walton, who was out bravely to block at his feet.
On the stroke of half time, Hatters threatened once more, Lee’s low drive forcing a sprawling stop from Silvestri, while Marriott should have made it 1-1 before the change of ends.
He took Smith’s lovely through ball in his stride, did everything right, beating Silvestri, but then faced with the open goal, stabbed over the top.
After the break, Leeds tried to take a strangehold on proceedings, quietening the Kenilworth Road crowd in the process, but the home fans were jolted back to life on the hour mark when McGeehan’s free kick brought a full length flying save out of Silvestri, with the midfielder forcing the keeper to turn another low shot behind as well.
Hatters started to put their opponents on the back foot as the half progressed, fashioing the golden opportunity they were craving on 78 minutes, when Marriott was sent clean through by Smith, as faced with Silvestri, his aim was off for the second time, shooting badly wide.
Walton showed fine handling to claim Alex Mowatt’s curler, before Town could have levelled with four minutes to go, McGeehan firing rashly over the top from the edge of the box.
Leeds almost added an unfair gloss to the scoreline at the death, but Walton was out superbly to deny Roofe from close range and once sub Isaac Vassell directed his header off target, the game was up.
Town boss Jones can be once again proud of the display served up by his team though as they went toe-to-toe with a Championship outfit for the second time this term, with not many able to part the teams for the majority.
He will be hoping for more of the same at Cambridge on Saturday now, but with most crucially, a cutting edge in front of goal.
Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Glen Rea, Johnny Mullins (C), Olly Lee (Isaac Vassell 75), Jonathan Smith, Jake Gray (Jordan Cook 56), Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 66), Jack Marriott.
Subs not used: Craig King, James Justin, Josh McQuoid, Scott Cuthbert.
Leeds: Marco Silvestri, Sol Bamba (C), Kemar Roofe, Luke Murphy (Kalvin Phillips 58), Souleymane Doukara, Stuart Dallas, Matt Grimes, Pontus Jansson (Liam Cooper 74), Pablo Hernandez (Alex Mowatt 68), Lewis Coyle, Tyler Denton.
Subs not used: Rob Green, Luke Ayling, Marcus Antonsson, Hadi Sacko.
Bookings: Grimes 1, Lee 53, Coyle 61
Attendance: 7,498 (1,510 Leeds).