Unbeaten record ended as Hatters lose in injury time to Boro
League Two: Stevenage 2 Luton Town 1
Luton Town had to ensure stoppage time misery themselves this afternoon as they lost their unbeaten record at Stevenage, going down to a first defeat of the season courtesy of Matt Godden’s last-gasp winner.
After the joy from the late, late victory on Tuesday night, this time they were brought back down to earth as seconds after Olly Lee had hit the bar, Boro broke at pace before Godden coolly slotted past the exposed Christian Walton.
It hadn’t looked like Luton were capable of losing from a position of real authority at the start of the second half, leading through Cameron McGeehan’s deflected opening, but crucially not putting the outcome out of sight, with missed chances costing them dearly.
The visitors had made two changes, with Johnny Mullins suspended as Glen Rea came back in to partner Scott Cuthbert in central defence, while Jake Gray replaced Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, who dropped to the bench.
Gray sent over an early cross that was inches away from Danny Hylton, as the hosts, who began attempting to adopt a more passing approach than in recent years, before eventually reverting to type, still had the usual danger from set-plays, Charlie Lee nodding wide.
Town led on 14 minutes though when McGeehan took aim from 25 yards and his left footer picked up a massive deflection to wrongfoot keeper Jamie Jones and dribble into the net.
The midfielder could have had another moments later, after Hylton raced through to collect his own clever flick, beating Dean Wells all ends up and then pulling the ball back, but McGeehan, completely unmarked, lost his footing at the crucial moment.
Hatters started to enjoy total control of possession, McGeehan going close once more, after a lovely build-up, his effort was blocked by the head of Wilkinson - while another sumptuous spell of passing football led to Dan Potts whizzing one wide on the overlap.
The visitors had to stay switched on though, as a rare foray from Boro saw Rea have to get in just ahead of Godden as the striker looked odds-on to level matters up from close range.
Luton searched for a second, Jordan Cook’s free kick cannoning into the wall, and from the rebound, Potts’ strike from distance was claimed by Jones.
Town missed another great opportunity on 41 minutes though, as Potts’ incisive pass was touched on by Hylton for Cook who shot first time, dragging his left-footer wide.
Boro then finally looked like they were capable of breaking Town’s back-line down with a brief spell of pressure, but Cuthbert in particular, was more often than not in the right place, making a number of crucial blocks.
Town should have had breathing space moments before the break though as Marriott’s wonderful reverse pass was perfect for Hylton, who looked to have done everything right, waiting for Jones to commit himself, as he opted for the spectacular, bending into the top corner, with his shot flying off target.
After the break, having had control of the game, Town were then pegged back on 56 minutes when Godden sent over a fine cross from the right and Connor Hunte was left all alone to score to with a downward header into the corner.
Marriott tried for an instant response, Jones saving easily, before Stevenage could have hit Luton with a quickfire second, Jake Hyde lashing over when well placed.
Hylton might well have put Town in front once more, but couldn’t connect with Cook’s dink over the top as the offside flag stayed down.
O’Donnell almost netted his second scorcher in the space of a week, seeing his fierce angled drive hitting the underside of the bar, while McGeehan would have turned the rebound in but for a wonderful sliding block by Ronnie Henry and then Cook shot straight at Jones from the edge of the box.
Boss Nathan Jones threw Isaac Vassell on for the quiet Marriott and he almost made an instant impact, tricking his way through only to see his shot blocked, while Mpanzu was also on, firing off target and then taking a heavy touch as great counter attack broke down.
That was to prove a feature of Town’s playing as the game wore on, with the visitors having all the best play, breaking on a number of occasions, but too often chose the wrong option as the moves came to nothing.
McGeehan blasted straight at Jones and then Mpanzu’s curler needed to be palmed aside by the increasingly overworked Boro keeper, who also palmed Hylton’s fierce attempt over after the Hatters striker showed great skill to beat his man not just once but twice.
From the corner, Cook’s delivery was headed goalwards with Dean Wells pretty much lying prostrate on the ball to stop it crossing the line as Town screamed for a handball which wasn’t given.
Stevenage showed they were still a threat in the closing stages though, Tom Pett narrowly wide, as they then tried to almost walk the ball in, Hatters frantically getting back to clear.
Despite former Hatter Luke Wilkinson getting booked for time-wasting from his own goal kick, Stevenage showed they had it in them to win it it they wanted to, Ben Kennedy’s swerving effort from the angle beating Walton, only to crash against first bar and then post, before Cuthbert cleared away.
Boro then went down to 10 men for the last five as Tom Conlon had to go off injured, but again almost stole victory as a deep free kick was met by Fraser Franks whose header clipped the top of the bar.
Back came Town though, Potts’ header too close to Jones, while Lee then saw his wonderful curling attempt crash against the bar and from the rebound Stevenage claimed the winner, with a quickfire break and Godden curling home in stoppage time.
Lee them almost levelled in the very last second, as he took aim, before just missing the target, as Town fell to a first ever defeat at Stevenage, dropping to third in the table, with Morecambe going top.
Stevenage: Jamie Jones, Fraser Franks, Luke Wilkinson, Jobi McAnuff (Tom Pett 46), Jake Hyde (Ben Kennedy 57), Michael Tonge, Dean Wells, Connor Hunte (Tom Conlon 76), Charlie Lee, Matt Godden, Ronnie Henry (C).
Subs not used: Chris Day, Andrew Fox, Rowan Liburd, Dale Gorman.
Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Glen Rea, Scott Cuthbert, Olly Lee, Jake Gray (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 59), Jordan Cook, Cameron McGeehan (Josh McQuoid 90), Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott (Isaac Vassell 67).
Subs not used: Craig King, Jonathan Smith, James Justin, Akin Famewo.
Bookings: Hylton 37, Wells 60, Lee 66, Wilkinson 85.