Worrying signs for Luton as they fall to Bluebirds defeat

Championship: Luton Town 1 Cardiff City 2

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 27th November 2021, 6:38 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th November 2021, 6:40 pm
Amari'i Bell with a header against Cardiff
Amari'i Bell with a header against Cardiff

Luton turned in a desperately disappointing performance as they made it four games without a win after being beaten by one of their new bogey sides in Cardiff City at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.

The Hatters got what they deserved as well, as bar a brief spell in the second period when they drew level through Jordan Clark's first goal of the season and began to look like they were capable of pushing for the victory, it was on the whole a bit of a shocker from Nathan Jones' side.

Up against a Bluebirds team who had struggled badly all season, Town just never got going, devoid of ideas for large periods, and second best all over, with a display that at times harked back to their first season back at this level, when they looked a few steps behind their opponents.

The manager had made wholesale changes for the clash against a Bluebirds team who had gone four without defeat in Bedfordshire, Simon Sluga, Glen Rea, Jordan Clark, Amari'i Bell and Harry Cornick coming in for Allan Campbell, Henri Lansbury, Admiral Muskwe, Fred Onyedinma and James Shea.

It was a side that looked like it had been picked for the conditions, a swirling wind hindering Luton in the first period, but they were still dwarfed by a giant Cardiff team, falling behind on just 10 minutes to the visitors opening attack, and quite remarkably the first the Bluebirds had scored in the opening half this term.

Former striker James Collins played a part too, finding Perry Ng, the full back's cross picking out a completely unmarked Rubin Colwill whose downward header was clawed out by Sluga, but not before it had crossed the line, referee Oliver Langford signalling it had gone in.

With the gusting wind stopping Sluga's clearances from getting past the half-way line, Ng picked up one that got caught and tried his luck from 40 yards out, his shot flying wide of the target.

Town struggled to get going in what was a pretty terrible first half, playing into Cardiff hands, with long balls devoured by the centre halves, players caught in possession and a general lack of urgency or bravery to go forward.

One brief foray saw Tom Lockyer and Jordan Clark have crosses cleared and then gathered by keeper Alex Smithies, which was about as good as it got for an increasingly frustrated home crowd.

A long ball then finally did pay off, Elijah Adebayo fouled by Sean Morrison who was booked, but Kal Naismith went for power from the free kick, disappointingly over the bar.

Sluga had a let-off just before the break, opting to punch a cross from the left as it hit an unsuspecting Collins flush on the head but fortunately for the Croatian, rebounded away from goal.

Town did immediately force a corner at the other end, the only real moment of real excitement in the the first period, but despite a good delivery by Bree which bounced in the six yard box, not one Luton player was there to try and convert.

Sean Morrison could have put the game beyond Town on the stroke of half time too, glancing wide after rising highest to meet a dangerous corner.

After the break, the visitors should have been further behind, Mark McGuinness putting a free header over the top, while some appalling defending saw Colwill with a chance of his second, Sluga saving low down.

Mpanzu's shot was always rising, while Cornick couldn't quite get to Adebayo's deflected cross as finally Town looked capable of actually ending their increasing goal drought, now standing at well over 350 minutes, with the home crowd beginning to believe as well.

They had a real chance to do so on the hour mark, Naismith's driven cross met by Tom Lockyer who had stayed up from a corner, but he couldn't divert his header on target, the ensuing kneeslide one of frustration rather than celebration.

However, Town were on level terms on 64 minutes, as Naismith's ball into the box was pulled out of they sky by Adebayo and he picked out the advancing Clark who sidefooted into the bottom corner for his first goal of the season.

Collins might have put City back in front instantaneously, latching on to Sonny Bradley's poor header, his lob caught by the back-pedalling Sluga, while Naismith stepped out to blaze well over, Danny Hylton coming on to try and cause some late havoc.

Rather than a grandstand last 13 minutes in search of a winner, Town had to use that time to try and find another equaliser, Ryan Giles' cross left by Bradley, with Morrison in glorious isolation to power his diving header beyond Sluga.

Town should have restored parity within 60 seconds though, Naismith's low delivery finding Clark who took a touch and then sliced wide

Bree went for an ill judged 30-yard blast, hitting the top section of the Kenilworth Road stand, Sluga preventing a third, decisively sliding out at the feet of sub Isaak Davies.

Winning a corner late on, the hosts then sent up Sluga, but Bree's set-piece was overhit and out for a goal-kick, summing up both his and the Hatters efforts.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Tom Lockyer, Sonny Bradley (C), Kal Naismith, Amari'i Bell (Fred Onyedinma 58) Glen Rea (Henri Lansbury 84), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark, Harry Cornick (Danny Hylton 66), Elijah Adebayo.

Subs not used: James Shea, Reece Burke, Allan Campbell, Cameron Jerome.

Bluebirds: Alex Smithies, Mark McGuinness, Sean Morrison ©, Joe Ralls, Kieffer Moore, Curtis Nelson, James Collins (Isaak Davies 82), Marlon Pack, Ryan Giles, Rubin Colwill (Mark Harris 71), Perry Ng.

Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Aden Flint, Will Vaulks, Leandro Bacuna, Ciaron Brown.

Bookings: Morrison 38, Rea 42, Smithies 85.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 9,987 (1,032 Cardiff).