MOTD pundit Alan Shearer points to defensive frailties as Town go down but ex-Newcastle striker believes Luton can bounce back

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Former England international praises the Hatters’ efforts at trying to stay up

Former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer pointed out Luton’s defensive frailties as the main reason they have been relegated from the Premier League this season, although tipped Rob Edwards’ side to have a real chance of bouncing straight back up next term.

The Hatters saw their realistic chances of taking the top flight relegation battle to the final day of the campaign ended by losing 3-1 at West Ham United yesterday, as although they trail Nottingham Forest by three points, the Reds’ goal difference means Nuno Espirito Santos’s team will remain in the highest tier of English football.

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Hopes had been raised at the London Stadium when Sambi Lokonga flew into power home a header from Alfie Doughty’s terrific left wing cross after just six minutes and give the Hatters a lead they held going into the second period. However, as has been their Achilles heel for much of the season, Luton were unable to shut their opponents out after the break, conceding three goals in just 20 minutes as James Ward-Prowse, Soucek and George Earthy all took advantage of some poor defending to find the net.

Luton's players react to their defeat at West Ham United yesterday - pic: Liam SmithLuton's players react to their defeat at West Ham United yesterday - pic: Liam Smith
Luton's players react to their defeat at West Ham United yesterday - pic: Liam Smith

It means Luton have shipped 81 goals now this term, with 53 of them coming after the sides have swapped ends, as opposed to just 28 in the opening 45 minutes, joining fellow promoted teams Burnley and Sheffield United in finishing below the dotted line. Speaking on Match of the Day, Shearer felt Luton had been the best of the sides who came up, as going through the manner in which they were breached, he said: “They gave themselves the best chance, I think they’ve been really competitive.

"The problem they’ve had is conceding goals, scoring goals I don’t think has been a problem, but today was the similar problem they've had all through the season. We hear it all the time about the difference between this level and the Championship is up top and the finishing. I think the keeper (Thomas Kaminski) should do better there, I don’t think it's a great block and they get punished with a good finish (from Ward-Prowse) and that is the difference is that when you give chances away, more often or not at this level (they score).

"They can clear it once there, they can clear it again there with (Tahith) Chong, he doesn’t, so that’s twice and then eventually the ball comes in and the standard of finishing, you get punished. (Vladimír) Coufal runs there, he can run all the way through with no challenge. The ball goes out to (Mohammed) Kudus on that right hand side and they get themselves into a decent position, two v one, but because of his skill, he gets down the line and then have a look at Earthy, he's been on a minute, his first touch, (Teden) Mengi hasn’t got a clue where is, it’s a great run.”

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Shearer did however offer some more words of optimism for Luton next term though, as he continued: “As I said they have been really competitive, they haven’t spent big, I think they’ve got a squad equipped to come back up. They’ve got a good young manager and they’ve got plans for the new stadium, so it’s not all bad news what's happened. They’ll be bitterly disappointed with what’s happened, but I think they’ve given it a right good go.”

Host Gary Lineker also added: “Having experienced Championship football this season as a Leicester fan, I can tell you it’s more enjoyable actually. Your team do win a few games that is for sure!”

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