Glory night for the Town as Leeds await in Round Two
LUTON TOWN 3
Gray 35, McGeehan 53, Okore OG 66
ASTON VILLA 1
Luton Town pulled off an EFL Cup giantkilling on a night to remember at Kenilworth Road as Nathan Jones’ side came from a goal down to beat Championship big guns Aston Villa 3-1.
Jake Gray, Cameron McGeehan and an own goal from Jores Okore helped the Hatters book a place in the second round, with another Championship side – Leeds United – pulled out of the hat in the draw that followed.
Jones made three changes to the side that won 3-0 at Plymouth on Saturday, with James Justin coming in for his first senior start at left-back for the suspended Dan Potts, Gray making his full debut after a brief cameo in Devon, and Olly Lee coming into midfield.
Glen Rea dropped back to centre-half alongside Johnny Mullins, with Stephen O’Donnell at right-back and Justin, normally a right-back, on the left.
Lee was the holding midfielder with Relly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Gray and McGeehan off him, with Danny Hylton and Jack Marriott up front.
Villa had already hit the woodwork twice, first time through Hatters defender Rea slicing a clearance and then Jack Grealish hit the inside of the post from 20 yards, before Jordan Ayew put them in front on 13 minutes.
The Hatters had gone close moments earlier when Marriott found space in the penalty box, but his effort flashed across the face of goal.
On 24 minutes O’Donnell produced a crucial clearing header as Ross McCormack lurked at the far post looking to get on the end of an Ayew cross.
Marriott’s pace was troubling the visitors’ defence and when a loose ball fell to Mpanzu after the striker had stretched them, there was a chance to build an attack.
Patiently Mpanzu, Gray and Lee combined to play Justin in on the left, and his intelligent cut-back looked good for McGeehan, who was penalised for a push in the six-yard box.
Walton had to be alert to get down low to his right to keep out a Grealish free-kick just after the half-hour, but the Town were getting joy out of Justin on the left, and after another precise build-up that saw the play switched from left to right and back again, the youngster put another dangerous ball low across the box.
Marriott, McGeehan and Mpanzu combined to play Gray into the right side of the box and the former Crystal Palace man flashed his right-footed shot past Villa keeper Mark Bunn and into the back of the net.
With half-time approaching the Hatters were in the ascendancy, and soon after O’Donnell had whipped an inviting delivery across the six-yard box, Marriott drew a flying save out of Bunn as the Town strike force sensed an advantage.
McCormack smacked a 30-yard free-kick over the visitors on the stroke of half-time, but the Hatters had grown into the game and were deserving of parity at the break.
In the opening minute of the second half the Town cranked up the pressure again, Hylton and Marrriott both having shots blocked before Marriott found space in the area once again on 48 minutes, only to be thwarted by the sliding tackle of Jordan Amavi.
Mullins had to clear off line from Villa sub Rudy Gestede, but the defender’s fellow summer signing from Oxford, Hylton, was having a great spell and after killing the ball in an instant on halfway, he skipped past three players and looked to set Mpanzu free.
On this occasion the Villa defence cleared the danger. Not so moments later when, in the 53rd minute, McGeehan played Mpanzu through again. Bunn was off his line to thwart the midfielder, and then flung himself in the way of Marriott’s shot after Gray had nudged the ball right.
The deflection of the Villa keeper went only as far as McGeehan, however, who put the ball into the back of the net to give the Town a deserved lead.
Walton had to be at his best on the hour as Aaron Tshibola fired a warning shot, but the England Under-21 stopper was equal to the low drive.
Hylton fancied his chances on 65 minutes when maybe O’Donnell was better placed to be slipped into the area, but the move was kept alive and after Justin spread a superb ball to Lee, Mullins whipped in a delicious cross that went begging.
The Hatters’ lead was extended two minutes later when Lee's cross, after his initial corner had been returned to him, was turned into his own net by Okore.
The Town were running riot and Marriott forced another save from Bunn, before Walton had to be on his guard as a dangerous Villa cross deflected off Mullins into the Hatters’ area. The England Under-21 keeper’s handling was as assured as ever though.
With just under a quarter-of-an-hour to go, Grealish flashed a 25-yarder past the post, but Luton were soon back dictating play and pressing at the other end.
Marriott looked to race onto Hylton’s flick-on with seven minutes to go, and although his pace terrified the visitors’ defence, they held him up – only for the ball to roll to McGeehan, whose shot went well wide.
With two minutes to go, Bunn had to gather as Okore once again turned a dangerous Hatters cross, this time from right-back O’Donnell, towards his own goal.
The Town didn’t need any more help. They’d done enough damage on their own. What a night to be a Hatter!
THE TOWN: Walton, O'Donnell, Mullins, Rea, Justin, Lee (Cuthbert 84), Mpanzu, McGeehan, Gray (Smith 87), Hylton, Marriott (Vassell 90+1). Subs: Smith, Cuthbert, Cook, Vassell, McQuoid, King (GK), Famewo.
Yellow: Lee, Hylton
VILLA: Bunn, Baker (Hutton 46), Richards, Okore, Tshibola, Ayew, Green, Gardner, Amavi, Grealish, McCormack (Gestede 46). Subs: Elphick, Bacuna, Steer, Gestede, Westwood, Hutton, Cissokho.
Yellows: McCormack, Ayew, Gardner
Att: 7,412 (1,487 Villa)