Town beaten late on again as Ayew seals victory for Swansea

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu takes aim against Swansea this afternoonPelly-Ruddock Mpanzu takes aim against Swansea this afternoon
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu takes aim against Swansea this afternoon
Championship: Luton Town 0 Swansea City 1

Luton's Achilles heel of conceding late goals struck once more as they were beaten 1-0 at Kenilworth Road by Swansea City this afternoon.

With eight minutes remaining, the Hatters looked like they had done enough to earn a point against the Swans, and extend their unbeaten run on home soil to three matches.

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But, just as at Preston last weekend, they couldn't hold on, striker Andre Ayew chesting home from a matter of inches to seal victory for the visitors.

Although Town didn't offer too much going forward at times, they hung on doggedly, centre half Matty Pearson excelling with a number of terrific blocks, as he put his body on the line, particularly during the second half.

But it wasn't quite enough as a third straight defeat, coupled with Barnsley triumphing at Millwall, means Graeme Jones' side are just one point above the drop zone now, going into the congested Christmas period.

The Town chief made three changes to his side, the most notable being goalkeeper Simon Sluga's return in place of a concussed James Shea, the Croatian starting for the first time since his shocker at Derby some 11 games ago.

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Andrew Shinnie and Harry Cornick were also in, as Luton reverted to the diamond, with Callum McManaman and Kazenga LuaLua dropping to the bench.

With Sluga back, there was almost an intense desperation on the terraces for the keeper to do well, cheered as he took his place between the posts, and also when saving easily from Connor Roberts' tame effort early on, plus controlling a backpass.

The Hatters gave as good as they got against an excellent-looking Swans team in the opening stages, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu doing superbly to fashion a cross from the left, with Cornick blocked just as he pulled the trigger.

Big money signing Ayew then showed his quality in advanced areas, turning James Bree to break into the box and fire into the side netting

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Luton then looked to contain the Swans threat where possible, countering on occasion, Shinnie dragging a half volley wide, the midfielder then going closer, forcing Freddie Woodman to tip over his 22 yard blast.

It was Shinnie who almost turned provider on 40 minutes, taking a touch when a corner fell for him, his low effort just out of the reach of a stretching Mpanzu.

City looked to have taken the lead on the stroke of half time, when a free kick wasn't dealt with by the hosts and it ended with Borja Baston's overhead volley trickling inches wide.

After the break, Pearson was required to make a crucial block on Baston as he let fly when racing on to Ayewe's clever backheel.

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Luton had a decent chance of their own after working a good opening on the right, with Luke Bolton's cross finding Cornick, who shanked disappointingly wide.

The game began to finally open up though, with Swans looking the more likely, Sluga forced into an excellent diving save from Ayew's downward header, with the visitors then sending another two attempts that deflected narrowly over.

Jones brought on George Moncur and Ryan Tunnicliffe for Butterfield and Luke Berry as Luton had to weather a real storm of pressure, Pearson making a stunning block with his face to prevent Bersant Celina from hitting the target.

Town then began to feature as an attacking force, one break seeing Cornick released and he rounded Woodman, who had raced miles out of his area, finding Moncur, who couldn't beat the covering defenders, while Shinnie stooped to nod over the bar from Collins' bouncing cross.

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Pearson, who was having an incredible game, repelling efforts time and time again, then saw George Byers just nip in front of him and go down, only to see referee Dave Webb opt to book the visiting attacker for diving.

However, the visitors did finally have the goal their play deserved on 82 minutes when Jay Fulton got the better of Tunnicliffe in the area and his cross deflected over Sluga, Ayew finally breaking clear of his markers to chest home from virtually the goal-line.

Luton tried to hit back, winning two corners in stoppage time, even sending keeper Sluga upfront, but there was no fairytale finish, as the Hatters couldn't find that last-gasp equaliser.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, Luke Bolton, James Bree, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley ©, Jacob Butterfield (Ryan Tunnicliffe 61), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Andrew Shinnie, Luke Berry (George Moncur 62), Harry Cornick (Callum McManaman 74), James Collins.

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Subs not used: Marek Stech, Lloyd Jones, Alan Sheehan, Kazenga LuaLua.

Swans: Freddie Woodman, Mike van der Hoorn, Matt Grimes ©, Borja Baston (Wayne Routledge 75), Bersant Celina (Kyle Naughton 87), Tom Carroll (Jay Fulton 75), Ben Wilmot, Andre Ayew, Connor Roberts, Jake Bidwell, George Byers.

Subs not used: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Barrie McKay, Aldo Kalulu, Brandon Cooper.

Booked: Bidwell 37, Collins 45, Byers 79.

Referee: David Webb.

Attendance: 10,062 (1,032 Swans).