O’Connor deepens Hatters’ away day misery

Luke Wilkinson heads clear
Luke Wilkinson heads clear

League Two: Newport County 1 Luton Town 0

Luton Town’s horrendous away form continued last night at Newport County as they lost for the fifth time in a row on their travels, beaten by former striker Aaron O’Connor’s first-half goal.

John Still’s side also failed to score for the third trip running, as the reverse was Hatters’ fourth consecutive defeat, although they remained in the play-off places by the skin of their teeth

Town boss John Still made one change to the side that lost 2-0 at Portsmouth on Saturday, with Elliot Lee replacing Shaun Whalley.

In a quiet opening, Hatters threatened once through Andy Drury’s deflected drive, while Elliot Justham saved with ease after Ryan Jackson’s burst into the box.

Despite talking at length about not conceding from individual errors in the week, Luton’s defensive frailties came back to haunt them on 21 minutes. This time, a long throw was flicked on and with no visiting defender taking command, it allowed O’Connor to finish instinctively.

Luke Guttridge looked for a leveller immediately as his daisycutter was well handled by Joe Day, while the impressive Jackson’s thunderous cross shot was too hot to handle for Justham although it rebounded fortunately away.

Kevin Feely then sent a free header wide, as Luton were under the cosh, but they did break away to see Drury curl narrowly wide.

The visitors did have concerted shouts for a penalty on 37 minutes when Alex Lawless’ cross clearly hit the outstretched arm of Jackson, but nothing was given.

Moments before half time, Newport almost had another but Minshull arrowed a volley wide. After the break, Hatters were denied a leveller when Lee’s pass rebounded off Lawless’ heel and fell perfectly into his path, but the loanee’s side-footer hit the base of the post.

Still then brought on Fraser Franks for Michael Harriman as Luton matched up with Newport’s 3-5-2 formation and finally started to get men forward.

Buoyed by the change, Cullen raced on to an awful backpass and his shot was parried behind by Day, while Lee glanced a corner goalwards, only for the keeper to make a fine reaction stop.

Paul Benson was introduced for Cullen, but Newport looked to have weathered the pressure, Max Porter shooting over and a combination of Justham plus the post denying Minshull’s header.

Back came Luton though as Lee stumbled through, bringing a save out of Day, with the corner nodded against the angle of post and bar by Wilkinson. With 10 minutes to go, O’Connor almost sealed it, but Justham flipped his drive over the top.

Sub Nathan Oduwa was on by then, but couldn’t have the same impact he enjoyed on Saturday, with Lee’s scuffed shot easy for Day, while Drury’s late effort deflected over as Luton left empty-handed on their travels yet again.

Exiles: Joe Day, Ryan Jackson, Kevin Feely, Max Porter, Darren Jones (C), Ismal Yakubu, Lee Minshull, Aaron O’Connor (Adam Chapman 90), Andy Sandell, Shaun Jeffers (Chris Zebroksi 72), Yan Klukowski (Mike Flynn 79).

Subs not used: Jamie Stephens, Miles Storey, Joe Parker David Tutonda.

Hatters: Elliot Justham, Michael Harriman (Fraser Franks 52), Jake Howells, Steve McNulty(C), Luke Wilkinson, Andy Drury, Cameron McGeehan, Luke Guttridge, Alex Lawless (Nathan Oduwa 72), Mark Cullen (Paul Benson 61), Elliot Lee.

Subs not used: Craig King, Jayden Stockley, Matthew Robinson, Ryan Hall.

Referee: Brendan Malone.

Booked: McGeehan 43, Feely 44.

Attendance: 2,536 (349 Hatters).

Hatters MOM: Elliot Lee. Looked lively all evening and only denied a goal by the woodwork.