Match Reports

Report | Hatters rally but fall to defeat at Villa Park


Aston Villa 3 McGin 17, Diaby 48, Lockyer (og) 62

Town 1 Martinez (og) 83

The Town stayed in this game for as long as they could – and didn’t go under – said Rob Edwards after he saw his side go down 3-1 at Villa Park.

For the Hatters manager, who was serenaded by the 3,000 Luton fans in the away end as he walked off the pitch at the club who gave him his first professional contract, it was another learning curve at the top level as the Town – as they have so often this season – done exactly that – stayed in the game for as long as they could.

Even three goals down the Town rallied and managed to reduce arrears and give those loyal thousands who had made the trip up the motorway something to cheer about even in consolation.

Even before a ball had been kicked the Hatters had been written off – but if anything it was the confidence behind an in-form Villa rather than any negative vibes in the Town camp.

Unai Emery’s Villans had started the season bottom of the table – conceding five at Newcastle on the opening day – but since that curtain raiser his side have become hell raisers. Four straight home wins this season – scoring 17 goals – raised expectations that sit comfortably higher than the Town’s.

As predicted Villa started fast. Any teams know that if you allow the Hatters to frustrate you then you’re in trouble. Thomas Kaminski’s brilliant double save in the 11th minute to deny Ollie Watkins from close range was a sign of things to come as the hosts ramped up the early pressure.

That seemingly inevitable opening goal came on 17 minutes when the Town switched off for milliseconds from Douglas Luiz’s short free-kick which found John McGinn. One step inside onto his right foot and a blast of the ball later and it was 1-0.

Those of a Villa persuasion sat back and waited for a second but it would not come. The Town ended the first half with encouragement. On 28 minutes, Chiedozie Obgene got the home defence back-pellading for the first time and his cross was inches away from finding Carlton Morris for a tap-in.

Having got to the break just the one goal behind, the Town started the second half aiming to creep closer to the Villa goal.

However, just two-and-a-half minutes after the restart the Hatters’ task became harder when Moussa Diaby doubled Villa’s lead with a first-time finish. It was not the ideal start to the second period.

Staying in the game has been a forte of the Town so far this term but Villa made life tougher shortly after the hour when skipper Tom Lockyer turned home Diaby’s cut-back and all of a sudden even being in the game was proving difficult.

Villa passed up several chances to add a fourth but the Town rallied as time ticked down and they were back in the game seven minutes from time when substitutes Andros Townsend and Elijah Adebayo combined to cause confusion in the home defence. Ezri Konsa’s header back towards goal hit the crossbar and rolled over the line after hitting goalkeeper Emil Martinez.

Still in it, the Town kept going in their search for a second goal and Adebayo came close to doing so in the final moments only to see his firm strike blocked by Pau Torres.

And that was that.

A game, as Edwards said afterwards, his side can learn from. “Games like this won’t define us,” said the boss afterwards.

Encouraging signs on an afternoon that belonged to the in-form hosts who moved momentarily into the top four – and next up for the Hatters is a home game against Liverpool next Sunday at Kenilworth Road.

See you then.

Town: Kaminski; Kaboré, Doughty (sub Giles 79), Lockyer, Osho (sub Townsend 57), Mengi; Nakamba (sub Mpanzu 76), Barkley; Ogbene, Morris (sub Adebayo 76), Brown (sub Chong 57).

Subs not used: Krul, Woodrow, Johnson, Luker.

Attendance: 41,785, including 3,005 Town fans in full voice in another sold-out away end.

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