Onyedinma stars at Luton welcome fans back with stunning victory over Peterborough
Championship: Luton Town 3 Peterborough United 0
Football - it's back!
After 18 long months, with supporters prevented from watching the beautiful game due to coronavirus restrictions, the Hatters finally returned in front of a full house at Kenilworth Road this afternoon and served up an absolute treat for their home supporters.
Starved of live action in recent times, since February 29, 2020 to be exact, the match was lapped up by Luton followers in a crowd of just over 10,000 from start to finish, as they saw their side blitz newly-promoted Peterborough with a display that can do nothing but whet the appetite for the campaign ahead.
The only disappointment was that it had to end, as everyone who witnessed the 90 minutes would have gladly stuck around for longer, but when it did, the Hatters could walk off to a rousing reception, and also sitting second in the early Championship table, just behind Hull City who won 4-1 at Preston North End.
Boss Nathan Jones handed debuts to three of his summer signings for the contest, Allan Campbell, Fred Onyedinma and Amari'i Bell all selected, with defender Gabe Osho handed his maiden league outing as well, centre halves Sonny Bradley, Tom Lockyer and Reece Burke all missing out.
Fellow new additions Henri Lansbury, Cameron Jerome and Admiral Muskwe were on the bench, but you got the feeling something special was in the air long before kick-off, the atmosphere bubbling up nicely.
There was no chance the Town players would freeze on the big occasion either, starting brightly, although they did almost fall behind to a horrendous own goal on eight minutes, keeper Simon Sluga letting Osho's backpass roll under his foot, just as he had done against Derby during his first season.
However, unlike at Pride Park, this time he did manage to get back in time and prevent it crossing the line, while taking a whack against the post for his troubles.
Town didn't let it affect though their momentum though, Sluga with a confidence-boosting claim and quick clearance which set up an opportunity for Jordan Clark to head wide from James Bree's cross.
Onyedinma was causing plenty of problems for the Posh back-line, none more so than when he was tripped by Frankie Kent some 30 yards from goal, the defender picking up the game's first yellow.
Midway through the half, United finally had their first spell of pressure, ex-Luton midfielder Jorge Grant having a crack from 25 yards, his effort flicking the side-netting on its way behind.
Town weathered it with ease though and had lift off on 31 minutes, Onyedinma the architect again.
He did wonderfully when collecting a short corner on the right, delivering an inviting cross that saw Elijah Adebayo rise highest at the back post, his downward header beating Christy Pym and going in off the post as, like captain Sonny Bradley had predicted, the roof almost came off the old ground.
Sluga was called into action to repel Joe Tomlinson's hopeful attempt, the Croatian just beating Jonson Clarke-Harris to Grant's dangerous cross, while Osho blocked Sammie Szmodics' follow up.
Town then transferred play up the other end, Harry Cornick finding Allan Campbell who teed up Bell, his right-footer cannoning off a defender and flying wide.
After the break, the game became more of an open contest, as twice Town sent crosses across the face of the six yard box with no-one there to convert them, before Bree's ambitious 25-yard drive was easy for Pym.
Peterborough had a huge let-off when captain Mark Beevers clearly handled the ball as Adebayo looked to get away, but despite being the last man, was mystifyingly only shown yellow by referee Andy Woolmer.
The official went and admonished both managers in the aftermath too, but although Bree put the resulting free kick wide, Luton didn't let the disappointment get to them for long, getting a second on 68 minutes when Onyedinma was the creator again, his low cross bundled home by Cornick.
From the celebration you could see how much the goal meant to the attacker too, as after going almost a full season without scoring last term, he was up and running after just over an hour this time.
Town continued to dominate on the wings, slicing their opponents apart as just two minutes later they had another, Onyedinma getting the goal his opening day display fully deserved.
This time it was Bree who got his head up from Cornick's pass and picked out the former Wycombe winger whose volley was excellent saved by Pym, the rebound dropping perfectly for the attacker to gleefully thump into the net.
Another summer signing Muskwe came on for his debut, while Onyedinma threatened a fourth, leading three defenders on a merry dance, denied by Pym's legs at his near post.
Jones had time to bring on Mendes Gomes for his debut and Lansbury too in the closing stages, making it six debutants in total on the pitch at the end, seven in the league if you include Osho.
The ole's soon followed as Town's newlook squad played out the final moments to an increasing crescendo of noise, before Woolmer brought the curtain down on a wonderful afternoon of football for anyone of a Luton persuasion.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Amari'i Bell, Gabe Osho, Kal Naismith, Allan Campbell, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Henri Lansbury 85), Jordan Clark, Fred Onyedinma (Carlos Mendes Gomes 82), Harry Cornick (Admiral Muskwe 78), Elijah Adebayo.
Subs not used: James Shea, Glen Rea, Peter Kioso, Cameron Jerome.
Posh: Christy Pym, Dan Butler, Nathan Thompson, Mark Beevers (C), Frankie Kent, Sammie Szmodics, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Jorge Grant, Josh Knight (Ethan Hamilton 63), Joe Tomlinson (Joel Randall 59), Joe Ward.
Subs not used: Ronnie Edwards, David Cornell, Harrison Burrows, Ricky-Jade Jones, Idris Kanu.
Bookings: Kent 16, Knight 57, Beevers 64, Ward 84, Szmodics 87, Bree 90.
Referee: Andy Woolmer.
Attendance: 10,019 (1,032 Posh).