Moncur's stunner downs Royals and sends Luton through to fourth round of the FA Cup

FA Cup third round: Luton Town 1 Reading 0

George Moncur is congratulated after scoring the winner against Reading
George Moncur is congratulated after scoring the winner against Reading

Luton Town weathered some serious second half pressure to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since the 2012-13 season thanks to a narrow victory over fellow Championship side Reading this afternoon.

The hosts grabbed a first half lead courtesy of George Moncur's magnificent finish, but were then under the cosh for large chunks after the break, indebted to some brilliant saves from keeper Simon Sluga, coupled with some wastefulness from the Royals attackers, as they eventually went through.

Town made wholesale changes as expected, nine in total, giving a debut to former Reading defender Gabriel Osho, while Sam Nombe started for the first time and Brendan Galloway was involved for the first time since his serious knee injury at Brentford on November 2019.

Also in was Dan Potts, handed the captain's armband, James Bree, Danny Hylton, Joe Morrell, Elliot Lee and Moncur, with just Sluga and Ryan Tunnicliffe remaining from the team who beat Bristol City, although Jones did pack the bench with first-team options and not any from the U23 squad as he might have.

Reading also swapped things around, leading scorer Lucas Joao not involved, while giving three full debuts, although did include both goalscorers Tom McIntyre and Alfa Semedo from the 2-1 win over Luton on Boxing Day.

The much-altered Hatters settled well, fashioning a number of shooting opportunities, but opted to turn them down until Bree picked out Tunnicliffe in the 10th minute, the midfielder volleying over.

Town's fit-again right back then drilled another ball in that Lee stabbed wide, before Hylton couldn't quite divert Potts' looping header in at the far post from a corner.

The forward had an even better chance on 26 minutes when strike partner Nombe sent over an inviting cross, but he connected with fresh air from close range, while Moncur's follow up was blocked.

There was no stopping the midfielder on the half hour though when Morrell spread the play wide to find Bree, who delivered a hopeful up and under into the area.

Moncur popped up at the back post, making the run that boss Jones constantly demands of him, showing wonderful technique to cushion a glorious sidefooted volley beyond Luke Southwood and into the bottom corner for his third goal of the season.

Reading almost had a swift leveller when Sone Aluko turned Morrell inside and out before seeing his right footer from 20 yards only just miss the bottom corner.

Sluga was then called on for the first time, parrying Oliver Pendlebury's attempt back into the danger area, but thankfully for him, no Reading player was there to pounce.

After the break, Hylton wasted another magnificent chance to be on the scoresheet for the first time since March 2019, when Morrell sent over a cross that Tunnicliffe headed cleverly across goal but from a few yards, the forward somehow couldn't beat a sprawling Eastwood.

Town were almost pegged back moments later, when Sluga could only parry Semedo's effort back where it came once more, and it looked like Sam Baldock as about to make it 1-1, only for Osho to produce a brilliant full stretch sliding intervention to put the ball behind.

It was the visitors turn to miss a glaring chance just after the hour mark as Aluko was left completely unmarked from Tomas Esteve's cross, but managed to thrash his attempt against the top of the bar and out.

Sluga did get it right midway through the second period, with an excellent save from Esteve's daisycutter destined for the bottom corner, sticking out a right hand to fingertip behind.

He then collected Baldock's header and turned away Michael Olise's long range attempt although it looked like it was flying wide.

Tunnicliffe saw his angled cross-shot safely gathered by Southwood, before Sluga was back in the thick of things again, a superb double save to keep the visitors out, repelling Baldock's 20-yarder and then up quickly to get back on his line and keep out Onen's follow up too.

In stoppage time, Luton should have been facing an extra half hour as referee Darren Bond waved play on when Hylton looked to have been fouled, Reading sub Nahum Melvin-Lambert going clean through.

He finally beat Sluga, but not the underside of the bar, as Onen was unable to keep his composure when the loose ball dropped to him, skying into the stands, ensuring it was a relieved Luton who went into Monday night's draw.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree (Jordan Clark 58), Brendan Galloway (Rhys Norrington-Davies 74), Gabriel Osho, Dan Potts, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Joe Morrell, Elliot Lee (Luke Berry 74), George Moncur, Sam Nombe (Kazenga LuaLua 81), Danny Hylton.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Harry Cornick, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Tom Lockyer, Glen Rea.

Royals: Luke Southwood, Tomas Esteves, Tom McIntyre, Michael Olise (Nahum Melvin-Lambert 78), Sam Baldock (C, Mamadi Camari 78), Sone Aluko (Dejan Tetek 71), Alfa Semedo (Conor Lawless 78), Ethan Bristow, Oliver Pendelbury, Jayden Onen, Jeriel Dorsett.

Subs not used: Tom Holmes, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Imari Samuels.

Bookings: Hylton 90.

Referee: Darren Bond.