Mpanzu and Lee on target as Luton down Chairboys and climb to fifth
Luton made it a quite fantastic start to the Championship season as they picked up a third win from their opening four games with a 2-0 triumph against old adversaries Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon.
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu curled home a quite beautiful strike to set Town on their way after an hour, with Elliot Lee sealing the victory after coming off the bench, both players netting their first goals of the season.
It might have been different had Wycombe replacement Scott Kashket seen his strike adjudged onside just moments before Lee's clincher, Hatters' hearts in their mouths as referee Graham Scott discussed the decision with his assistant before ruling in the hosts favour.
Anything other than a Town would have been unwarranted on the day though as it was the hosts who came to play, Wanderers showing under Gareth Ainsworth, they had lost none of their ability to slow the play down whenever possible during their climb to the second tier.
Town boss Nathan Jones made two changes to his side, Glen Rea fit to resume his position as the holding midfielder, with Jordan Clark in for his full league debut, as centre half Matty Pearson made it 100 appearances for the club too.
After what Jones described as a flat performance against Watford last weekend, the start to this afternoon was anything but, Town already showing more fight than they had against their arch rivals, with the visitors determined to referee the game in the stands, thanks to the noisiest set of club officials seen at Kenilworth Road since the season started after lockdown.
With 20 gone, Luton started to get on the front foot and finally gain some kind of ascendancy, Harry Cornick's cross tipped just out of the reach of James Collins by Ryan Allsop, Hatters' beginning to win a number of corners too, Cornick seeing his own drive blocked from the edge of the area.
Pearson couldn't mark his milestone with a goal, diverting a downward header from Luke Berry's corner wide, the game swiftly resembling something out of League One and Two, rather than the Championship encounters this ground has become accustomed to, which suited the opposition on the day perfectly.
Captain Sonny Bradley tried to take matters into his own hands, arrowing wide from 30 yards out, before Town were inches away from taking the lead on the stroke of half time.
As those behind the visitors dug-out counted down the minutes for official Scott, Mpanzu did well to find some space in the area, lifting a cross to the back post, where Clark looped a header over Allsop, only to see Darius Charles in position to nod off the line.
After being kept waiting for an age to start the second period, Rea sent an audacious volley on to the roof from Berry's corner, as Wycombe finally started to feature as an attacking threat, Daryl Horgan's effort blocked and Joe Jacobson whizzing one over.
Simon Sluga was then called upon to prevent Berry's deflection from rolling in at his near post, before Town eventually had the lead they craved on 59 minutes.
A move on the left saw Cornick pick out the lurking Mpanzu 22 yards from goal and he moved the ball on to his right foot to quite beautifully pick out the corner, curling beyond the despairing dive of Allsop, tapping an imaginary watch in celebration.
With their tails up, Collins went for glory from outside the box, volleying off target, but Wanderers weren't without their opportunities, Anthony Stewart's downward header from a free kick clipping the outside of the post.
An end-to-end final stanza saw chances created and wasted by both sides, Cornick doing brilliantly to break away on the left and pick out Berry, whose shot was kicked away by Allsop.
Jacobson then couldn't find the corner after being afforded too much space on the edge of the box, as he fired a warning shot to the hosts.
Somehow Luton didn't have a nerve-relieving second though when a high ball caused confusion and with Allsop out of position, Collins was unable to beat Curtis Thompson, who had got back and managed to produce a fantastic goal-line clearance.
The opportunities kept coming, Sluga beating away Jack Grimmer's blast after he overlapped on the right, while Cornick's last action was to almost pounce on an error from Jacobson, only to see Allstop out quickly.
Mpanzu was clearly up for a second, taking sub Kazenga LuaLua's pass and going for the bottom corner, not wide by much.
With the hosts' throw-ins now being counted down by the Wycombe bench, it looked like they would be celebrating a leveller with three minutes to go, Kashket firing home from close range.
However, the linesman's flag quietened the vocal celebrations from those in the stands, and after a brief chat with referee Scott, it remained chalked off.
Town then made the game safe immediately, LuaLua doing brilliantly to beat his man on the outside and pick out the run of Elliot Lee, who coolly side-footed into the bottom corner, as Luton moved up to fifth place going into the international break.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, Martin Cranie, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley ©, Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Luke Berry, Jordan Clark (Kazenga LuaLua 73), James Collins (Danny Hylton 88), Harry Cornick (Elliot Lee 80).
Subs not used: James Shea, Peter Kioso, George Moncur, Ryan Tunnicliffe.
Chairboys: Ryan Allsop, Jack Grimmer, Joe Jacobson (C), Anthony Stewart, David Wheeler (Fred Onyedinma 60), Daryl Horgan (Josh Parker 69), Curtis Thompson, Darius Charles, Nick Freeman, Dennis Adeniran, Alex Samuel (Scott Kashket 64).
Subs not used: Matthew Bloomfield, Giles Phillips, Jason McCarthy, Josh Parker, David Stockdale.
Booked: Cornick 53, Kashet 90.
Referee: Graham Scott.