Hatters hit six of the second-half best to sink Solihull
LUTON TOWN 6
O’Donnell 60, 90
Marriott 63, 90+2
SOLIHULL MOORS 2
Osborne 5, 35
Att: 3,512 (635)
The Hatters survived an FA Cup scare this afternoon to book their place in Monday’s third round draw, coming from two goals down to sink Solihull Moors with six of their second-half best!
The part-time National League visitors led 2-0 at half-time and one of the major upsets of this year’s competitions looked on the cards, as Jamey Osborne netted both goals to punish a disjointed Town side.
But Nathan Jones’ men came out after the break a completely different team, and within nine minutes of the restart they were level with strikes from Danny Hylton and Johnny Mullins, before substitute Stephen O’Donnell marked his 50th appearance for the club with a double and Jack Marriott followed suit.
Jones made two changes to his starting line-up for this afternoon's Emirates FA Cup second round tie with Solihull Moors.
Returning to the team after three games on the bench was striker Marriott, replacing Isaac Vassell up front alongside Hylton, while Alex Gilliead came back into midfield in place of Olly Lee.
The Hatters started brightly, with Cameron McGeehan almost getting on the end of a flick by Hylton in the second minute, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the fifth when Osborne curled into the top corner from 15 yards out, with Christian Walton rooted to the spot.
A great chance to equalise came the Town’s way in the 14th minute when Hylton drove down the right, into the box and cut the ball back, but Marriott’s effort was blocked by a Moors defender in the six-yard box after referee Chris Sarginson had waved away appeals for a penalty for a trip on McGeehan.
Solihull had another go from distance in the 19th minute when Omari Sterling robbed James Justin in the Hatters’ right-back position, but shot straight at Walton from 20 yards.
Hylton had the ball in the back of the Moors’ net on 23 minutes, but the referee’s assistant had his flag raised for offside as the top scorer raced onto Glen Rea’s chip over the visitors’ back four.
The visitors had a good chance to increase their lead when Jordan Gough rose to meet a far post cross, but could only direct his header straight at Walton.
It wasn’t long before they had doubled the advantage as Osborne again found himself in oceans of space, this time on the edge of the Hatters’ penalty area, and he fired low into the bottom corner.
Akwasi Asante then went close with a near-post diving header, before captain Liam Daly’s header had to be hacked clear by McGeehan.
From the resulting corner, Asante had another glorious opening but skewed his shot wide, just before the Hatters broke and McGeehan burst onto a loose ball in the box, but couldn’t keep his volley down and the visitors took a deserved 2-0 lead into the half-time interval.
Jones made one substitution at the break, with O’Donnell coming on in place of Justin at right-back, and within two minutes a chance came via a Solihull hand.
Ref Sarginson awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal, but Alan Sheehan’s shot was pushed away by Danny Lewis and the Moors goalkeeper’s defenders cleared the danger, but you sensed a sea change was taking place.
By the 51st minute, Hylton had dragged the Hatters back into it, latching onto Marriott’s beautifully clipped ball over the top and slipping it past Lewis into the bottom corner.
Within three minutes, the Town were level and it was Mullins who netted a superb first for the club, firing home from the edge of the penalty area as Solihull struggled to get out of their own box.
The Hatters were now knocking the ball around with confidence that was completely absent in the first half, and McGeehan teed up Cook for shot that Lewis parried, but grabbed at the second attempt.
By the hour mark, the turnaround was complete and it was O’Donnell who had his second goal of the season to his name, put through on the right by Marriott and keeping his composure to fire low across Lewis for 3-2.
Three minutes later and it was four, Marriott scoring his first goal since mid-September after strike partner Hylton set him free to run at goal from 35 yards out, and he slipped it unerringly past Lewis as he made his way into the area.
The visitors reminded the Hatters they could still pose a threat with Sterling calling Walton into action, but Hylton and Marriott were also sniffing another goal, the former dragging one shot wide before Lewis was equal to Marriott’s quickfire efforts in the 78th and 79th minutes.
Cuthbert had a header cleared off the line on 81 minutes, but ref Sarginson ruled the Town captain had climbed illegally to meet Sheehan’s corner, so it wouldn’t have counted.
Vassell, on for Hylton in the 82nd minute, had a great chance to make it five when he raced onto Rea’s hook over the top, but his attempted shot was blocked and Moors defender Jordan Fagbola got back to divert Marriott’s follow-up volley behind.
The increase in scoreline did come, however, in the 90th minute when O’Donnell grabbed his second of the game – indeed the half – when he smashed a left-footed shot low inside the near post.
Then Marriott did likewise, drifting in from the right and firing home a left-footer from the edge of the area to make it six two minutes into time added on, and book the Hatters’ place in the third round hat.
*The draw takes place on Monday night, live on BBC2 and BT Sport 1 from 7pm. The Hatters ball are ball number 58.
TOWN: Walton, Justin (O’Donnell 46), Cuthbert, Mullins, Sheehan, Rea, Cook, McGeehan, Gilliead (Potts 76), Hylton (Vassell 82), Marriott. Subs: Smith, Mpanzu, Lee, King (GK)
Yellows: McGeehan, Cuthbert, Cook
SOLIHULL: Lewis, Murombedzi, Franklin (Morris 72), Daly, Gough, Asante, Byrne, Jones (Knights 83), Fagbola, Osborne, Sterling (White 82). Subs: Koue, Dielna, Acton (GK)
Yellows: Franklin, Murombedzi, Osborne