Poor defending and a missed penalty sees Luton beaten by play-off rivals Huddersfield

Championship: Huddersfield Town 2 Luton Town 0

By Mike Simmonds
Monday, 11th April 2022, 9:52 pm
Harry Cornick in action for the Hatters at Huddersfield this evening - pic: Getty Images
Harry Cornick in action for the Hatters at Huddersfield this evening - pic: Getty Images

A disappointing second half performance from Luton saw hosts Huddersfield take a huge step towards cementing a play-off place as they scored twice to record victory against the Hatters this evening.

Going into the break, manager Nathan Jones would have been happy enough with what he had seen, Town on level terms and the Terriers not doing a great deal to suggest they would break their opponents down.

But Jon Russell took advantage of some poor marking to lob home on the hour mark and after Elijah Adebyao had missed a penalty, Saby Narr escaped the visitors' attentions to head home a second in the final minute as Huddersfield climbed to third and are now firm favourites for a top six berth.

For Luton, it was the end of their four match unbeaten run and having draw their last two, are now three without a win, sitting fifth, with a two point cushion over seventh placed Blackburn Rovers going into the final five games of the campaign.

Jones made three changes from the side who drew 1-1 at Peterborough on Tuesday night, captain Sonny Bradley in for his first start since the 2-0 defeat at Sheffield United on January 22.

Henri Lansbury and Harry Cornick also came back in, with Peter Kioso and Danny Hylton dropping to the bench, joined by Luke Berry, with Cameron Jerome out injured.

The hosts appeared keen to dominate possession in the early stages and fashioned a great chance when the Hatters gave possession away, Sorba Thomas speeding down the left and finding Lewis O'Brien, who scooped over from the edge of the box.

Luton began to grow into proceedings though, growing into the game themselves, Lansbury crowded out before he could get his effort away in the area, Amari Bell's run and cross gathered by Terriers keeper Lee Nicholls.

With 20 minutes gone, Jon Russell was invited to shoot from range, which he did, sending an effort rising well over, before James Shea was called upon moments later, saving from Danel Sinani at his near post once Mpanzu had his pocket picked.

A dangerous cross was headed narrowly past his own post by Onyedinma, as although Shea punched the corner clear, he was incredibly lucky to see Thomas's volley from the set-piece deflect up off Bradley and into his grateful gloves, having already dived to his right in anticipation.

For the second game running, Jones was then forced into a change on 33 minutes, Mpanzu injuring himself while conceding a free kick and then having to painfully hobble off with no stretcher called for by the officials.

He was replaced by Robert Snodgrass in what was his longest run out for the club since arriving in February, booed on by the home fans, due to his Leeds connection, as while that was going on, Cornick's snapshot was shovelled out by Nicholls.

Russell couldn't quite stretch enough to reach an inviting free kick at the back post, although Kal Naismith's was thankful his sly pull-back went un-noticed.

After the break, Bree's whipped cross just couldn't get a touch from either Allan Campbell or Onyedinma, before Town were forced into another change when Lansbury, who had already received treatment for a neck injury, went down for a second time after a headed clearance on the hour mark.

He was replaced by Dan Potts, with Naismith moving into midfield, but from the throw that Lansbury had conceded, the visitors, still unsure of quite who was doing what at the back, fell behind.

Russell was allowed to run off Snodgrass and with Potts not quick enough to stop him, produced a clever lob over Shea which dropped into the corner of the net.

The match then exploded into life on 70 minutes when Naismith chipped a ball over the defence for Bree who was clipped by Sinani as he tried to reach it, referee Geoff Eltringham thinking about it and then awarding the spot-kick.

Leading scorer Elijah Adebayo stepped up looking to level the scores, only to see his effort graze the outside of the post, the aftermath seeing Naismith shove O'Brien to the ground, with the defender somehow avoiding red, Onyedinma and Thomas also seeing yellow for the ensuing shenanigans.

Still in the lead, Huddersfield dropped deep, happy to let Luton have possession at times, with Adebayo almost redeeming himself, doing well to tee up Snodgrass who skied disappointingly over.

The Terriers might have been out of sight when Thomas escaped the visitors' defence with 10 to go, only to see his attempt from a narrow angle fly out for a throw.

Bell tried to bring Luton level by himself, bursting forward when a corner wasn't properly cleared, his curling attempt not missing by much.

It was game over with a minute to go though when Sarr, only just on, wasn't picked up from a corner, able to place his downward header beyond Shea and into the net to secure victory.

Late on Luton were almost caught again, Thomas going for a third when a pass was the better option, Shea saving, as at least Town didn't see their goal difference take a further hit ahead of what promises to be massive Good Friday fixture at home to Nottingham Forest.

Terriers: Lee Nicholls, Pipa, Harry Toffolo, Jonathan Hogg (C), Lewis O'Brien, Sorba Thomas (Jordan Rhodes 90), Danel Sinani (Duane Holmes 77), Danny Ward (Naby Sarr 82), Levi Colwill, Tom Lees, Jon Russell.

Subs not used: Jamal Blackman, Josh Koroma, Ollie Turton, Carel Eiting.

Hatters: James Shea, Fred Onyedinma, Amari'i Bell, James Bree, Sonny Bradley (C), Kal Naismith, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Robert Snodgrass 35), Allan Campbell, Henri Lansbury (Dan Potts 58), Harry Cornick (Danny Hylton 80), Elijah Adebayo.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Peter Kioso, Luke Berry, Danny Hylton, Admiral Muskwe.

Bookings: Naismith 71, Onyedinma 71, Thomas 71.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham.

Attendance: 18,379.