Woeful Hatters easily beaten by Reading

Luton were beaten 3-0 by Reading this afternoon
Luton were beaten 3-0 by Reading this afternoon

Championship: Reading 3 Luton Town 0

Struggling Luton slipped to their fourth successive league defeat with a woeful and worrying display at Reading this afternoon.

Prior to the game, it looked like the Royals might potentially be one of the sides, like Town, facing a battle for their Championship survival this term, sitting just two places and one point above the Hatters.

However, that possibility appeared way, way off by the full time whistle, with the ease in which Reading controlled the fixture, and the insipid nature of the visitors' performance, leaving the displays that earned wins at Barnsley and Blackburn a distant memory.

The main bone of contention for anyone of a Hatters persuasion at the game, was the confused nature of the visitors' efforts and a seeming lack or urgency, particularly after the break when 2-0 behind, Royals keeper Rafael Cabral having the easiest of afternoons, barely touching the ball.

Town boss Graeme Jones made four changes to his side, the most surprising seeing captain Sonny Bradley dropped from the squad, with Lloyd Jones in for his full league debut after arriving in January 2018.

On-loan Chelsea midfielder Izzy Brown failed to recover from his hamstring injury, while Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, despite being named sponsor's man of the match last week dropped to the bench, along with James Bree, who paid the price for his part in Nottingham Forest's two goals last weekend,.

Luke Bolton, Jacob Butterfield and Callum McManaman came in, but Luton were under the cosh possession and territory-wise in the opening stages.

However, Jones' men had the first real chance on eight minutes, Butterfield's deep free kick finding Martin Cranie at the back post and he was denied by Rafael Cabral.

Matty Pearson then had to be alert to make an impressive intervention with Sam Baldock finding space in the area, deflecting his attempt behind.

With a quarter hour gone, Town then created another decent opening, as Butterfield's dink released Harry Cornick who did well to bide his time and fashion a cross that was headed wide by a diving Collins.

Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria had some bright moments for the Royals, one nutmeg on Butterfield saw him find striker George Puscas, who could only loft over the bar.

Omar Richards went close after walking through a few half-hearted challenges and hammering goalwards, Shea reacting well to parry behind on 22 minutes.

It was from the set-piece that Town were breached again though, with another goal of real ease, Michael Morrison outjumping his markers to direct a header beyond Shea and into the net.

The second followed on the half hour with a goal that started with Town on the front foot, Bolton beating his man and getting into a decent crossing position before losing the ball.

That left a yawning gap at right back and Reading took full advantage, moving forward quickly, with Ejaria allowed to cut in and size up a shot that found the far corner from 20 yards via a slight defection.

Shea parried from Baldock after he wriggled free again as the Royals looked capable of running riot, with the striker firing into the side-netting in the 38th minute.

A poor first half saw Bolton taken out of the firing line at the break, club captain Alan Sheehan given his first league action of the season and a first Championship game since January 1, 2008, when at Leicester City, he came on for Bruno N'Gotty after 62 minutes of a 3-1 defeat at QPR.

Reading could have put the game beyond doubt, John Swift thumping over after Butterfield's weak clearance as Jones kept ringing the changes, Andrew Shinnie on for the quiet Cornick and Kazenga LuaLua replacing Butterfield.

Puscas might have widened the hosts' advantage, his powerful header at the back post drawing a fine save by Shea, clawing it away, as Luton just couldn't force anything noteworthy.

In fact the closest they came in the second 45 was from a corner sent in by Sheehan that saw Town's players to a man cry for handball, but no penalty was given by referee Andy Woolmer.

With 12 minutes to go, the three points, that had long been safe, were firmly locked away when Sheehan lost the ball in defence, Garath McCleary racing clear to easily beat Shea.

Precious little happened after that, Town couldn't even muster a shot on target to notch a consolation, with referee Andy Woolmer mercifully ending proceedings,leaving Luton to lick their wounds over the international break.

Reading: Rafael Cabral, Michael Morrison, Matt Miazga, Liam Moore (C), Andy Rinomhota, Sam Baldock, John Swift, Ovie Ejaria (Garath McCleary 64), Andy Yiadom, Omar Richards, George Puscas (Yakou Meite 70).

Subs not used: Sam Walker, Danny Loader, Teddy Howe, Tyler Blackett, Judilson Gomes.

Hatters: James Shea, Luke Bolton (Alan Sheehan 46), Dan Potts, Matty Pearson, Lloyd Jones, Martin Cranie ©, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jacob Butterfield (Kazenga LuaLua 69), Callum McManaman, James Collins, Harry Cornick (Andrew Shinnie 58).

Subs not used: Simon Sluga, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, James Bree, Elliot Lee.

Booked: Bolton 25.

Referee: Andy Woolmer.

Attendance: 15,251 (2,097 Luton).