Championship: Blackburn Rovers 1 Luton Town 2
Defender Matty Pearson scored the winner on his first return to Ewood Park as Luton bounced back from three successive defeats in all competitions with a brilliant 2-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers this afternoon.
With 57 minutes on the clock and the scores locked at 1-1, Pearson rose highest to direct his header into the bottom corner from Izzy Brown's free kick, and give Town a lead that they held on to despite some serious late pressure from the hosts.
After league reverses against QPR and Hull City, the visitors made three changes for the fixture, Jacob Butterfield, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Dan Potts all in, with Andrew Shinnie (knee) missing out, while Luke Bolton and Kazenga LuaLua dropped to the bench, joined by Luke Berry and Callum McManaman.
Although the Hatters spent the first few minutes hemmed inside their own half, they did break forward to have the first attempt on seven minutes, Brown finding Harry Cornick in space, the attacker's low shot easy for ex-Town stopper Christian Walton.
Town had the lead on 16 minutes, after a superb move started by Brown, the on-loan Chelsea midfielder surging to the byline and delivering a pinpoint cross for James Collins to bury a header beyond Walton for his 50th goal in Luton colours.
The opener saw Luton grow in confidence, with some lovely attacking moves from back to front, as one sweeping passage of play saw Potts unable to pick out a team-mate.
However, the visitors were pegged back on 37 minutes when the hosts had one effort charged down by Pearson and with Luton unable to get the ball away, switched play to the other side.
Elliot Bennett then pulled the ball back to the edge of the box where Lewis Travis, who had escaped the attentions of Brown, beat Butterfield and finished emphatically beyond Simon Sluga from 18 yards.
After the break, the Hatters looked to retake the lead when Brown once more advanced menacingly from midfield, weighting his pass for Harry Cornick in support, his effort parried behind by Walton.
Town did have the advantage once more when they won a free kick on the right and Brown swung it over for Pearson, against the club where he started out, to do the rest.
The otherwise quiet Stewart Downing, who can count Liverppool and Aston Villa amongst his previous clubs, looked to have swiftly made it 2-2, only to curl his free kick just inches past the post.
Rovers raided the bench for some real quality, former Spurs and Hamburg midfielder Lewis Holtby, with three Germany caps to his name on, plus experienced striker Danny Graham joining the fray.
Graham was close to drawing his side level, finding space in the area to meet Bennett's cross, Sluga holding on low down.
The hosts started to ramp up the pressure, Holtby dragging wide and then Adam Armstrong collecting a long ball over the top, bearing down on Sluga, only to lift his shot over into the stands.
Town brought on McManaman for Brown with 20 to go, the substitute having an immediate impact, stinging Walton's palms, the keeper parrying unconvincingly back into the danger area, with Mpanzu shanking the rebound horribly.
A marvellous block by Butterfield prevented a certain goal for the hosts, as Graham continued to cause problems, cushioning a header for Bradley Dack to slice off target.
It looked like Rovers had restored parity on 78 minutes when a cross was nodded back across goal for an offside-looking Dack to turn over the line.
No flag was raised by assistant referee Rob Smith, who was quickly met by a host of Hatters players appealing the goal, joined by referee Gavin Ward.
After a discussion between the pair, Ward then whistled and pointed for a free kick to the visitors, much to the frustration of the home fans.
Blackburn went on to ramp up the pressure in the closing stages, but despite pumping a number of crosses into the danger area, Town hung on manfully to register a first victory at Ewood Park for almost 40 years, their last success combing back in November 1981.
Rovers: Christian Walton, Derrick Williams, Bradley Johnson (Lewis Holtby 61), Greg Cunningham, Adam Armstrong, Sam Gallagher (Danny Graham 61), Stewart Downing, Bradley Dack, Darragh Lenihan, Lewis Travis, Elliot Bennett (C Dominic Samuel 81).
Subs not used: Jayson Leutwiler, Danny Graham, Amari’i Bell, Tosin Adarabioyo, John Buckley.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Dan Potts, Sonny Bradley (C), Matty Pearson, Jacob Butterfield (Luke Berry 81), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Izzy Brown (Callum McManaman 70), Harry Cornick (Lloyd Jones 86), James Collins.
Subs not used: James Shea, Lloyd Jones, Kazenga LuaLua, Elliot Lee, Luke Bolton.
Booked: Butterfield 55, Travis 83, Potts 90.
Referee: Gavin Ward.
Attendance: 15,319 (1,326 Luton).