|Luton 2-0 Town|
Sat 28th Jul 2012 17:09 by TWTD.co.uk
A headed goal from a set piece in each half from Hungarian centre-half Janos Kovacs consigned the Blues to a 2-0 friendly defeat at Luton. Michael Chopra came closest to scoring for the Blues when his first half header struck the post.
Blues boss Paul Jewell named a side which was a mix of the two teams he fielded in midweek with Scott Loach in goal, Jack Ainsley at right-back, Joe Whight on the left and Damien Delaney and the skippering Luke Chambers at the centre of the defence.
In midfield, Massimo Luongo sat behind Jimmy Bullard in the centre with Cheick Kourouma on the right and former Hatter Andy Drury on the left. Michael Chopra was joined by Ryan Stevenson up front, the Scot having played that role during his time with Hearts.
The first shot of the game was hit by Bullard straight at Luton keeper Mark Tyler after a corner conceded by the stopper when he tipped a Whight cross from deep wide somewhat uncertainly. For the home side, Stuart Fleetwood curled a ninth minute 20-yard freekick wide.
Luton ought to have gone in front in the 11th minute when left-back Lathaniel Rowe-Turner beat Ainsley and crossed low. Fleetwood missed the ball completely but Scott Rendell behind him hit a low strike which Loach saved with his foot.
Play quickly moved to the other end and Ainsley sent in a deft ball towards Chopra, who diverted it to Tyler. Moments later, Luton had the ball in the net but Andre Gray was offside when Jake Howells, a player previously understood to have been eyed by the Blues, played him through.
On 24 Loach pushed a Rendell header wide from a freekick wide on the right but the former Cambridge man was penalised for a push.
Luton were on top at this stage, enjoying most of the possession and creating the better chances. In the 28th minute the ball bounced dangerously in the Blues box but wouldn’t fall for Gray before it went out of play.
Michael Chopra came close to netting his fourth goal of pre-season on 35 when his flicked header diverted Bullard’s freekick from the left against a post with the keeper beaten.
But a minute later, it was the Hatters who would go in front. Howells sent over a deep corner from the right which centre-half Janos Kovacs headed back across goal over Drury on the line and into the net.
A minute before the break, Bullard hit a long-range effort that Tyler couldn’t hold on to. The loose ball fell to Stevenson but Tyler was out quickly to block.
The home side were good for their lead at half-time, having been in control for the most part and having created the better chances. Conceivably it could have been two with Rendell missing the early good opportunity.
With Luton allowing them little time to settle on the ball, the Blues were finding it harder to get their passing going than they did at Cambridge on Wednesday. Despite this, Chopra came close with his header against the post, while only an excellent save from Tyler thwarted Stevenson late on.
Town made a number of changes at the break, Scott Loach, Joe Whight, Jack Ainsley, Cheick Kourouma and Michael Chopra making way for Arran Lee-Barrett, Aaron Cresswell, Carlos Edwards, Luke Hyam, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Jason Scotland. Luton switched Scott Rendell for JJ O’Donnell.
Emmanuel-Thomas hit a low effort through to Tyler then Stevenson headed over as the Blues started the second half more positively than they had ended the first.
On 50 a corner was half-cleared to Hyam 25 yards out and the midfielder stuck what looked to be a goal-bound effort until keeper Tyler pulled off the best save of the game so far to block to his left. Chambers was one of a number of Town players to try to get to the rebound but play was stopped due to a head injury to a Luton player.
Stevenson shot over in the 59th minute with Town beginning to pass the ball around with greater confidence. Three minutes later, Scotland hit a low shot which Tyler claimed comfortably.
Emmanuel-Thomas forced Tyler into another save in the 67th minute, making a powerful run before hitting a low shot which the keeper put behind.
Luton went close to increasing their lead against the run if play on 70, scorer Kovacs again headed a Howells corner towards goal but this time Cresswell was able to clear off the line.
Cresswell curled a shot wide on 79, but with subs coming thick and fast the game was losing its intensity and Town their momentum.
With a minute of normal time remaining, Luton made it two with Janos Kovacs again the scorer. Greg Taylor sent in a freekick from the left and the Hungarian rose to power a header past Lee-Barrett.
Hatters sub Adam Watkins curled a freekick wide shortly before the final whistle confirmed the Blues’ first defeat of pre-season.
Luton had been good for their lead at the break, but after half-time Town improved significantly with Hyam coming closest to beating impressive home goalkeeper Tyler.
But as the half wore on the game lost its shape with the substitutions increasing and the Blues rarely threatened in the closing stages, although on the balance of the second period, Kovacs’s second goal was probably harsh on Paul Jewell’s men.
Luton: Tyler, Rowe-Turner (Watkins 56), Taylor, Kovacs, Lawless, Fleetwood (Woolley 68), Gray (Walker 68), Rendell (O’Donnell 46), Howells (Robinson 77), Kasim, Henry (Beckwith 71). Unused: Brill.
Town: Loach (Lee-Barrett 46), Ainsley (Edwards 46), Whight (Cresswell 46), Chambers, Delaney, Luongo, Kourouma (Hyam 46), Bullard (Emmanuel-Thomas 46), Stevenson (Ellington 71), Chopra (Scotland 46), Drury. Unused: Carson, Lawrence. Att: 2,440 (Town 273).
Story syndicated from TWTD.co.uk
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