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Club News

Report | Town all but down after Hammers comeback

11 May 2024

Club News

Report | Town all but down after Hammers comeback

11 May 2024

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The Hatters’ hopes of staying in the Premier League are all but over after West Ham fought back to take the points at the London Stadium.

Leading at half-time thanks to Sambi Lokonga’s sixth-minute header, the Town had the points in their grasp – only for three second half goals to leave the Hatters three points behind Nottingham Forest with a game to go with an inferior goal difference.

Unchanged after last week’s 1-1 draw with Everton, the Town started like a team who knew what was on the line and the opening goal came from an likely source. Alfie Doughty clipped in a cross from the left and Sambi Lokonga ghosted in unnoticed into the Hammers’ penalty area to nod past Alphonse Areola. It was the Belgian’s first goal for the Hatters and his first in three years.

What followed for the remainder of the first half was typical Luton: terrific, brave defending to deny the home side – in David Moyes’ final home in charge – a leveller.

On 13 minutes Jarrod Bowen saw his volley hit the outside of the post following Lucas Paqueta’s left-wing cross and ten minutes later Teden Mengi cleared the danger as Jarrod Bowen’s low shot crept goalwards.

Ross Barkley then charged down Bowen’s shot on 28 minutes as the Town continued to frustrate the home side but within ten minutes the Hatters midfielder was limping off the pitch as he picked up a knock and was replaced by Jordan Clark.

As half-time approached, and the game entered an additional five minutes at the end of the 45, the Town stood tall to repel a series of high balls and set-pieces thrown at them by the Hammers.

Just like the first half, the Hatters started the second half well, creating a couple of half-chances but within eight minutes of the restart it was 1-1. Bowen was allowed to run down the right and his low cross was cleared by a combination of Thomas Kaminski and Reece Burke. However the ball fell into the path of James Ward-Prowse and he diverted the ball into the bottom corner.

Having been pegged back the Town knew what was required of them and Elijah Adebayo almost had a chance only to be denied by Kurt Zouma.

But with their tails up, the home side continued to push forward. Kaminski saved three times in as many minutes to keep the Hammers out, with one tremendous stop shortly after the hour to deny Michail Antonio world-class.

Yet you felt it was only a matter of time before the home side took advantage of their weight of possession and on 65 minutes they led. The Hatters half-cleared a set-piece to Tomas Soucek waiting on the edge of the box and the Czech midfielder drove a fine volley into corner.

Five minutes later it was almost curtains for the Town when the lively Mohammed Kudus, having been found by Bowen, somehow contrived to miss when one-on-one with Kaminski with the goal-gaping.

As time ticked down, the Hatters turned to the bench, with Rob Edwards introducing Chiedozie Ogbene with 18 minutes left in his first appearance since the middle of March.

But, within three minutes of the Irishman’s introduction, the Hammers made it 3-1 when young substitute George Earthy tapped home from close range following Kudus’ cut-back.

The third knocked the stuffing out of the Town who tried to bridge the gap in the dying stages but a fight-back failed to materialise.

With one game to go the Hatters are three points from safety with an inferior goal difference as attention turns to the final game of the season against Fulham next Sunday, knowing only an unlikely set of results will prevent them from slipping into the Championship.

It’s been a season to make you proud to be a Luton fan regardless – and we’ll see you next weekend at Kenilworth Road.

Town: Kaminski; Onyedinma (sub Ogbene 73), Doughty (sub Berry 87), Burke (sub Woodrow 87, Mengi, Osho; Barkley (sub Clark 39), Lokonga; Chong, Morris, Adebayo.

Subs not used: Krul, Berry, Woodrow, Mpanzu, Hashioka, Townsend, Johnson.


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