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Town's Anfield dream ended by ruthless Reds

21 February 2024

Club News

Town's Anfield dream ended by ruthless Reds

21 February 2024

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The Hatters wait for a win at Anfield goes on as Liverpool fought back to record a comfortable victory – but Rob Edwards’s side can be proud of their performance on Merseyside.

Chiedozie Ogbene’s first half header in front of the Kop had Town supporters everywhere dreaming of a famous victory.

However, after the break it was a different story as the hosts roared back, scoring twice in three minutes through Virgil van Dijk and Cody Gakpo to put Jurgen Klopp’s side in front.

No Hatters side has ever won here in 17 previous visits and Liverpool made sure that would not change when Luis Diaz added a third with 20 minutes left.

The Town rallied in between the Reds’ dominance but the league leaders added to their ruthless streak in the closing stages when Harvey Elliott lashed beyond Thomas Kaminski, who had pulled off a string of impressive saves throughout.

It might have been a painful second period for the Town but they can take credit for their role in pushing the Klopp’s men after their first half showing.

The opening 45 minutes once again showcased the Hatters bravery going forward and their enterprise, allied with their defensive discipline was rewarded with a lead that shocked the majority of the 60,000 voices inside this famous ground.

Yet even before Ogbene’s opener in the 12th minute, the home side – who had lost just once at home in 54 Premier League fixtures – had already threatened Kaminski’s goal with Town stopper holding Gakpo’s close range volley in the opening moments.

This season has already been an adventure – life supporting Luton is never dull – and Ogbene’s opener was truly a moment to savour. Cauley Woodrow was fed by Alfie Doughty before Tahith Chong held up the perfect cross for the Irish international to head past his countryman Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal at the back post. The release in the away end was a sight to behold – and it was worth a few seconds to take the whole moment in.

It was helter-skelter stuff as the Town then set about holding onto their lead. Yet the Hatters were looking good going forward as Ogbene saw a shot blocked and Woodrow came close to beating Kelleher on 21 minutes.

The chances for the hosts though began to come has half-time approached. Diaz shot wide, Kaminski held a Ryan Gravenberch effort and Amari’i Bell produced a wonderful piece of defending to pinch the ball of Gakpo as the host upped the ante.

It was enthralling to watch as both sides traded possession towards the end of the first half. Fantastic skill from Sambi Lokonga kick-started a Town move on 39 minutes before the Reds countered and Teden Mengi denied Diaz with a tackle that brought Rob Edwards to celebrate.

The Town’s task of holding onto their lead took a blow before the second half began when Lokonga was forced off with a hamstring injury,

But, with Liverpool now shooting towards the Kop, it was time for the Hatters to don their tin has and roll up their sleeves as the hosts went for the jugular.

Mengi blocked again brilliantly and bravely from Diaz on 51 minutes before the Town survived a VAR scare when Gabe Osho deflected the ball behind for an apparent handball.

It was hearts in mouths every time the home side attacked and you felt it was only a matter of time before the Town would succumb to the pressure.

On 56 minutes the equaliser arrived. Kaminski turned a low Gakpo shot around the post but from the resultant corner swung in by Alexis Mac Allister, van Dijk powered an unstoppable header home.

All of a sudden the Town were well and truly on the ropes. Kaminski produced a heroic stop 90 seconds later to keep out Connor Bradley’s low shot but the reprieve last less than 30 seconds when from a throw-in, Mac Allister hooked a cross into the box and Gakpo headed home to bring the house down.

Two minutes after the Reds’ second it was almost three when the Hatters had Kaminski to thank for a terrific save to prevent van Dijk’s header adding to the home side’s lead.

The Hatters’ response was good amid the chaos was admirable with Doughty twice going close with chances down the left hand side that worried the hosts.

Yet with 71 minutes on the clock Klopp’s side did find a third when Diaz finished smartly as the gaps began to open in the Town defence.

With 15 minutes left, Kaminski got a wonderfully strong hand to deny Diaz and then prevented Elliott’s low drive from the edge of the box.

As time ticked down the Town, to their credit, continued to press for a way back into the game but Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley were off target in the closing stages.

However it was the Reds who had the final day in the final minute when Elliott lashed home to rubber stamp the three points.

It was a brave effort from the Town, full of endeavour and enterprise but we move on - 12 years ago tonight we lost 1-0 at Barrow in front of 925 in the Conference. 

Come on Luton.

Town: Kaminski; Ogbene, Doughty (sub Kaboré 74), Mengi, Osho, Bell; Lokonga (sub Mpanzu 46), Barkley; Chong (sub Clark 63), Morris, Woodrow (sub Townsend 58).

Subs not used: Krul, Potts, Berry, Burke, Nelson.

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