Report | Hatters comeback ended by late Villa winner

It’s the hope that kills you.


With a minute left on the clock, and with a point within their grasp following one of the finest, battling 45 minutes at Kenilworth Road this season, all of the Town’s incredible endeavour was undone in heart-breaking fashion.

Moussa Diaby swung in a cross from the right and fellow substitute Lucas Digne nodded past Thomas Kaminski at the back-post and a relieved Aston Villa celebrated a crucial win in their quest for Champions League football.

The Town, inconsolable, were left to reflect on nothing to show for their efforts that saw them battle back from the dead to level after a first half that saw Villa ease into a two-goal lead.

Ollie Watkins was the difference in the opening period with two very well taken goals to put Unai Emery’s side in control. His first was a bullet header in the 24th minute from a right-wing corner and the England striker doubled his and Villa’s advantage five minutes before the break when latching onto forward pass and finishing brilliantly past Kaminski.

Kaminski had earlier repelled Villa with a series of fine saves but the Town keeper’s night was much quieter after the interval as the Hatters took the game to their visitors.

In a wonderful response despite trailing by two, the Hatters penned Villa back and deservedly halved the deficit on 66 minutes when Tahith Chong bundled the ball over from close range after Villa couldn’t deal with a right-wing cross.

Kenilworth Road was bouncing. It was just what the Sky Sports cameras wanted. Six minutes after making it 2-1 it was level and the noise was deafening as belief flowed through those in orange. Alfie Doughty’s deep left-wing free-kick was floated to perfection to the back-post for Carlton Morris to send a side-foot finish beyond Emil Martinez. It was reminiscent of his goal at Everton and the eighth goal involvement in his last seven games.

All of a sudden the Town tails were well and truly up and Villa had no answer. Three minutes after the equaliser – and with 15 minutes left – Morris nodded straight at Martinez following Jordan Clark’s cross. Kenilworth Road’s foundations might not have coped had that effort found the target.

Villa made four changes at once with 11 minutes left on the clock but with five minutes left a carbon-copy chance for Morris of his equaliser saw the striker volley side-foot wide – yet an offside flag had already been raised.

Still the Town pushed. But Villa, who without doubt showed their class in the first half, had the final say to knock the stuffing out for the Hatters at the death when Diaby and Digne combined and that was that.

The fight for survival heads for Crystal Palace next Saturday.

We’ll see you there.

Come on Luton.

Town: Kaminski; Kaboré, Doughty, Burke, Mengi, Bell (sub Ogbene 6); Clark, Barkley; Chong (sub Mpanzu 84), Townsend (sub Hashioka 53), Morris.

Subs: Shea, Krul, Berry, Woodrow, Nelson, Piesold.

Attendance: 11,594, the biggest of the season so far, including 1,358 in the away end.

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