Andre Gray returns to Kenilworth Road
Luton put in another solid performance this evening, beating Championship opposition in the shape of Brentford, 2-1 at Kenilworth Road.
Luke Wilkinson and Calvin Zola found the net for the Hatters, with Philip Hoffman on the score-sheet for the visitors.
The match held added significance too, as ex-Luton goal machine Andre Gray returned to Luton for the first time since signing for the Bees.
And so the scene was set for a fascinating encounter with the Bees coming to Kenilworth Road off the back of a 2 – 0 victory against Premier League Stoke City on Saturday and Luton in good shape and unbeaten in their pre-season so far.
Luton got the match underway, shooting towards the Oak Road end. With the sun low in the sky from the West, Elliot Justham in the Luton goal would have the added complication of the sun in his eyes.
Brentford began steadily, passing the ball around the midfield nicely and on seven minutes Tarkowski played Hoffman through. His shot found the back of the net, but was ruled offside.
Luton also had their fair-share of the ball in the opening 15 minutes. McQuoid went on a lively jaunt down the left flank on 11 minutes and almost put Tiryaki in for a chance on goal. On 14 minutes, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, was brought down halfway into the Brentford half and the resulting chipped free kick from Guttridge was headed harmlessly into the hands of Bonham by Stephen O’Donnell.
Scott Griffiths also looked hungry for the ball, making some strong runs through the midfield, and not afraid to take a shot on goal on 21 minutes from outside the Brentford penalty area. This effort went high and wide of the left upright, but the effort was appreciated by the Kenilworth Road faithful.
Brentford then enjoyed a 10 minutes spell of possession, pressurising the Town’s defence but Luton looked comfortable and dealt with each attack professionally.
Then, on 40 minutes, Luke Guttridge’s beautifully lofted corner was picked out expertly by Luke Wilkinson who lost his marker long enough to jump and head the ball accurately into the top corner past Jack Bonham in the Brentford Goal. 1 – 0 Luton.
The lead didn’t last long though, as Philip Hoffman, who’d been making a mischief of himself from the get-go equalised with a close range effort just before the end of the half.
The second half started slowly, with little action of note in the first ten minutes. On the hour mark, John Still made his first four changes with Alex Lawless, Calvin Zola, Danny Green and Ollie Lee (brother of ex-hatter Elliott) coming on for Mustapha Tiryaki, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Nathan Doyle and Josh McQuoid.
In the Luton goal, Elliot Justham was called on to make difficult double-save as Gogia, then Hoffman attacked.
Brentford then made two changes of their own and finally Andre Gray entered the frame, with the home crowd giving him a warm and enthusiastic welcome. Moments later, Gray received a ball over the top of his head and looked through on goal, but once more Justham came to the rescue, palming the ball round his post for a corner. A close shave.
On 78 minutes, Luke Guttridge made way for Cameron McGeehan and moments later the ball came to Calvin Zola, who took a run at the Brentford defence and sent his shot low into the right hand corner of the Brentford net to give Luton the lead.
Jack Marriott came on for Jonathan Smith on with three minutes to go, and the young striker almost found himself through thanks to some more good work by Zola. Then Andre Gray had one last chance to equalise on 90 minutes, but found himself offside with Justham plucking the ball out of the air ahead of him in any case.
After the match John Still praised his team’s work ethic saying: “Organisation wise, discipline wise, knowing your job, doing your job – we were first class and we showed some good touches, so I was really pleased. The work-rate was first class. We managed to get hold of the ball and move it quickly – we got into some good positions.”
Luton now look forward to their final home friendly against Walsall on Saturday.
Attendance: 2,556 with 242 away supporters.