Shinnie's strike settles it despite Bonham's heroics

League One: Luton Town 1 Bristol Rovers 0

Saturday, 15th September 2018, 7:24 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th September 2018, 7:28 pm
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu saw this shot saved by Jack Bonham

Recalled midfielder Andrew Shinnie's first goal of the season saw Luton Town pick up a third successive home victory in League One against a dogged Bristol Rovers side at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.

In all honesty, the Hatters should have won by more, only denied racking up a far healthier margin of victory by the heroics of visiting keeper Jack Bonham, who made a string of fine saves throughout the contest.

Boss Nathan Jones made just one change from the 2-1 defeat at Doncaster, Shinnie himself coming in for Harry Cornick who dropped to the bench.

It was clear the Pirates intentions early on, as they barely threatened getting out of their own half, obviously content on just containing their opponents.

Town had to work hard for their chances against a packed defence, Jorge Grant's corner finding the unmarked Matty Pearson who couldn't direct his header on target.

Bonham began his one man resistance on 15 minutes, repelling Grant's fierce header from close range, while some brilliant skill from the on-loan Nottingham Forest player led to a corner which Sonny Bradley nodded wide.

Town thought they had the lead on 21 minutes when the isolated Dan Potts was finally found out wide and his delicious cross was turned in by fellow full back Jack Stacey, only for referee Robert Lewis to penalise James Collins for a push.

Collins' search for a goal went on, as he headed straight at Bonham, but he turned provider, sending Lee away, who cut inside and tested Bonham, the rebound ballooned over badly by Grant.

Still Luton looked for an opener, Lee on to his left and swinging a cross to the back post when Mpanzu's measured volley was diverted away from danger by Bonham.

On the stroke of half time, Bonham was at it again, spreading himself superbly to ensure he wasn't beaten by Mpanzu's drilled attempt, although Glen Rea's curler had him clutching thin air, flying inches off target.

After the break, Tom Nichols got up well to head over the bar in a rare Rovers attack, but Luton had the breakthrough on 62 minutes.

Shinnie was brought down just outside the area and Grant's free kick was only cleared as far as the Scottish midfielder who chested it down and buried a low shot inside Bonham's near post for his first goal since scoring against Carlisle back in February, ironically when he beat the same keeper.

Bonham was back into action, palming away Lee's blast, while he then made his best stop of the afternoon, finger-tipping away the same player's left-fooed poke after he escaped his markers.

Town sub Eunan O'Kane then suffered what was later diagnosed as a suspected broken leg with 10 minutes to go, as on a charge forward, he over-ran the ball, coming off worst from a full bloodied challenge, a stretcher immediately called for.

The on-loan midfielder had lengthy on-field extensive treatment, meaning there were 11 minutes of stoppage time, where Rovers finally started to look a minor threat, knocking the ball long.

However, with Pearson, Bradley and also Alan Sheehan on to stand firm, it was Town who could have added to their lead, Shinnie and Collins both unable to get the better of that man Bonham.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley, Dan Potts, Glen Rea (C), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jorge Grant (Eunan O'Kane 75, James Justin 88), Andrew Shinnie (Alan Sheehan 90), Elliot Lee, James Collins.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Alan McCormack, Harry Cornick, Aaron Jarvis.

Rovers: Jack Bonham, Tom Lockyer (C), Tony Craig, Ed Upson, Ollie Clarke, Stefan Payne (Gavin Reilly 53), Chris Lines, James Clarke, Kyle Bennett (Alex Jakubiak 73) Sam Matthews (Tom Nichols 28), Joe Martin.

Subs not used: Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Broadbent, Adam Smith, Stuart Sinclair.

Booked: Clarke 14, Shinnie 49.

Referee: Robert Lewis.

Attendance: 8,912 (519 Rovers).