Two days after booking a place in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, the Hatters made it through to the same stage of the Checkatrade Trophy with a comfortable 4-0 victory over West Ham Under-21s at Kenilworth Road tonight.
Lawson D’Ath, Aaron Jarvis and Kavan Cotter all netted their first goals for the club – a first in professional football for the latter pair – before Jordan Cook charged down Hammers keeper Nathan Trott’s attempted clearance for the fourth in injury-time.
The win over the Premier League club’s academy side, managed by former Town boss Terry Westley, took the squad’s winning run to five matches in all competitions, and eight unbeaten in total, as momentum continues to build on all three fronts in league and cup.
The four goals made it 43 in total in the 11 Checkatrade Trophy ties Town have been involved in since the start of last season, and the Hatters have now hit 21 in that recent five-game winning sequence, with nine different scorers on target in the last two at Gateshead and here.
At the other end, goalkeeper James Shea kept his first clean sheet in a Luton shirt - the club's 12th of the campaign, with five coming in the last seven - as the feel-good factor rages throughout the club.
Jones changed his starting line-up completely from the win at Gateshead 48 hours earlier, but selected a strong side featuring three changes from the starting line-up that won 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon in the final match of Southern Group F on October 31st, when Andrew Shinnie scored twice for the Town.
Cook came in after missing that match through suspension, while Cotter was in midfield after being recalled from his youth loan at Evo-Stik South side Hitchin Town, and Jarvis was selected up front with teenage defender Frankie Musonda as captain.
Luke Gambin started brightly for the Town, tricking his way into the right side of the area on six minutes and crossing for Jarvis, but the ex-Basingstoke man couldn’t quite connect with his left-footed swing.
The same pair combined again ten minutes later as Gambin won the ball inside his own half and set Jarvis away, only for the striker’s progress to be halted by a perfectly timed sliding challenge by Hammers centre-half Alex Pike on the edge of the box.
Gambin was in the mood to impress, but his 17th minute shot from 25 yards was well off target, just before Sead Haksabanovic headed Ben Johnson’s right-wing cross wide as the visitors showed their first sign of attacking intent.
Cook had a glorious chance to put the Hatters ahead in the 21st minute when Cotter picked him out with an inch-perfect pass over the top, but after a great first touch, the striker’s left-footed effort was dragged wide of the far post.
The Town put a cracking move together in the 26th minute when Cook found Gambin in the box and, after trying to engineer some space with his quick feet, the Malta international fed Mpanzu on the left of the area.
The midfielder’s low cross-shot was half-saved by Hammers keeper Nathan Trott, who needed left-back Joe Powell to react smartly to nick the ball away from Jarvis as he prepared to pounce in the six-yard box.
The Hatters had the lead in the 28th minute and inevitably it came from a great piece of skill from Gambin out on the right, the former Barnet winger twisting the left-back up and curling in a lovely cross that D’Ath rose to meet for his first goal in Luton shirt, heading into the top corner from close range.
Gambin was keen to get on the scoresheet himself, and after taking a pass from Cook on the left, he skipped past a couple of defenders before letting fly with a shot that was deflected safely into Trott’s arms, before setting Jarvis clear, only for the striker’s attempted chip over the keeper to be thwarted by Trott’s fingertips at full stretch.
West Ham looked to respond in the 36th minute when Domingos Quina hit a free-kick from right on the edge of the area, but that was safely tipped over by the watchful Shea, whose only task up to that point had been to keep warm.
The Hatters went in at the break a goal to the good, but within two minutes of the restart West Ham signalled their intent when striker Toni Martinez tested Shea again at his near post, although once more the Town keeper was up to speed and he turned the ball behind for a corner.
Town were soon back on the attack, and after Cotter had seen a volley go flying over the bar, Cook did the same from close range after Mpanzu had headed a Gambin free-kick into his path.
The lead was doubled in the 56th minute when the Hatters put a fine 11-pass move together, moving the ball around from left to right and back again in their own half in order to draw the West Ham defence out, before Jarvis took Akin Famewo’s long pass forward in his path and produced a superb finish on the half-volley from the edge of the area that gave Trott no chance.
It was a wonderful way for the 19-year-old to open his account in senior football, and just after the hour, Gambin chanced his arm from distance before, in the 65th minute, sending in another left-wing free-kick that Cook met with a firm header that Trott kept out.
Shea had seen little of the action, but when he did he was in top form, keeping out a blast from Hammers sub Grady Diangana at point-blank range before another replacement, Jahmal Hector-Ingram, dragged a right-footed shot just wide of his near post.
Quina sent an 82nd-minute bullet of a drive just over Shea’s bar as the Hammers sought a way back into the tie, but Cook could have put it to bed in the 85th minute when his low shot was saved by Trott with his feet.
Seconds later the game really was over when Cotter drilled home from 15 yards after Senior’s left-wing cross had been headed half-clear by the visitors’ defence.
And then the Town got a fourth when Cook closed Trott down in his own six-yard box and the Hammers keeper’s attempted clearance rebounded off the Town forward and into the empty net.
TOWN: Shea, Justin, Musonda ©, Famewo, Senior, Mpanzu, Cotter, D’Ath (Read 88), Gambin, Cook, Jarvis. Subs: Potts, O Lee, Rea, Berry, E Lee, Isted (GK)
Goals: D’Ath 28, Jarvis 56, Cotter 86, Cook 90+1
WEST HAM: Trott, Haksabanovic, Martinez, Quina, Pike, Samuelsen, Makasi (c), Powell, Akinola (Hector-Ingram 70), Johnson, Coventry (Diangana 53). Subs: Matrevics (GK), Scully, Lewis, Wells, Costa Da Rosa
REFEREE: Darren Drysdale
ATTENDANCE: 1,670 (108 away)