Ten-man Luton pay the price for a poor second half as unbeaten run is ended by Blades

Luton were beaten by Sheffield United this afternoonLuton were beaten by Sheffield United this afternoon
Luton were beaten by Sheffield United this afternoon
Championship: Sheffield United 2 Luton 0

A desperately poor second half performance saw Luton' s five game unbeaten run ended in timid fashion as they fell to a first defeat since late November at Sheffield United this afternoon.

Following an opening 45 minutes in which the Hatters' gameplan looked to have worked perfectly, frustrating their hosts with a compact back-line, denying them any clear-cut opportunities, it all went to pot after the break, conceding twice in the opening six minutes, a mountain they never looked like climbing.

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Town then had to play the last half an hour with 10 men as well, Reece Burke sent off for a professional foul on Rhian Brewster, as the Blades leapfrogged their opponents in the table, Hatters dropping to 13th place.

Boss Nathan Jones opted to leave leading scorer and talisman Elijah Adebayo on the bench for the club's first trip to Bramall Lane since November 2005, clearly with an eye on the congested fixture schedule ahead of his team.

Jordan Clark also made way as Admiral Muskwe came straight in from his time with Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations, with Henri Lansbury included.

Former Luton loanee Rhys Norrington-Davies started for the Blades who had a side packed with Premier League experience in Billy Sharp, Connor Hourihane, Oli Norwood and Chris Basham.

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A quiet started suited the Hatters, with their opponents having not played on home soil since November 28, as they didn't come haring out of the traps, Jayden Bogle's angled drive collected by a diving James Shea their only effort of note.

Jack Robinson's mammoth long throws were a cause for concern, Town doing well to repel one early aerial assault, but there was a real lack of excitement in the opening 20 minutes, until Brewster turned sharply and unleashed a low snapshot from 20 yards that bounced nastily and flicked the side-netting on its way behind.

The visitors fashioned their best opportunity on the half hour, Cameron Jerome starting the move, and Mpanzu showing good desire to keep it alive, with Peter Kioso's first time cross met by Jerome, Wes Foderingham saving at his near post.

Luton thought they had the lead on 40 minutes, Lansbury's inviting free kick nodded in by Sonny Bradley, but the flag was quickly raised to cut short any extensive celebrations.

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After a decent first half showing, there was a huge spanner in the works just three minutes into the second period when a ball in was half cleared by Burke.

It landed invitingly for Bogle on the right hand side, whose cross-shot was controlled first time by Brewster, the forward swivelling to fire through the legs of Shea from close range.

Rather than give themselves a moment to settle, Luton were hit with the killer blow just three minutes later, a deep free kick from the left met by a completely unmarked Robinson who planted his header into the net.

Jones reacted by bringing on Adebayo for Jerome, as Brewster had another crack, his angled volley simple for the Town keeper this time, while the former Liverpool man should have had a third, skewing wide when left all alone at the back post.

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A bad second period then got even worse on the hour mark as Adebayo lost the ball high up the pitch and Oli Norwood looked up to send a ball over the top.

It left Burke isolated with Brewster as the last man, and when he pulled the striker to the ground, referee Stephen Martin had little option but to brandish Luton's first red card of the season.

Gabe Osho came on for Muskwe, as Luton went into damage limitation mode, but not before Norrington-Davies rifled over from a decent position, as did a slightly further out Norwood.

Norrington-Davies went close again with a header into the stands, before Clark ambitiously attempted to get Luton back into the game with a 30-yard snapshot on the run, but the retreating Foderingham gathered easily.

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Ndiaye looked to increase the lead, dancing round Naismith in the box but Shea held on to his sidefooter, while Norrington-Davies fluffed yet another opportunity, this time on his weaker right foot, slicing way off target.

A comeback was never on the cards, such was the ease in which the hosts played out the final stages, but Town can still hold their heads up despite the defeat, with a great chance to get back on the winning trail against Bristol City at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.

Blades: Wes Foderingham, Chris Basham, Rhian Brewster (Sander Berge 70), Billy Sharp (C, Oli McBurnie 86), John Egan, Oli Norwood, Jack Robinson, Jayden Bogle, Conor Hourihane, Iliman Ndiaye (David McGoldrick 83), Rhys Norrington-Davies.

Subs not used: George Baldock, John Fleck, Oli McBurnie, Jake Eastwood, Kyron Gordon.

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Hatters: James Shea, Peter Kioso, Reece Burke, Sonny Bradley (C), Kal Naismith, Amari'i Bell (Jordan Clark 60), Allan Campbell, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Henri Lansbury, Cameron Jerome (Elijah Adebayo 54), Admiral Muskwe (Gabe Osho 63).

Subs not used: Simon Sluga, Luke Berry, Carlos Mendes Gomes, Fred Onyedinma.

Sent off: Burke 61.

Referee: Stephen Martin.

Attendance: 27,780