LUTON ENJOY LEAGUE AND CUP DOUBLE OVER EXILES
In-form County beaten by Hatters
NEWPORT County boss Justin Edinburgh felt his side were highly unlucky to be on the receiving end of a 3-0 hammering at Kenilworth Road.
Goals from the two Lukes: Wilkinson and Rooney, and a stoppage time effort from Jake Howells were enough for Luton, who also triumphed over the Exiles 3-2 in the FA Cup first round last month.
“We are a bit unlucky I think, I don’t think it is a fair reflection on the game at all but fair play to Luton, they were ruthless in front of goal and took their chances when they needed to,” said Edinburgh.
“We lost concentration in our own box and weren’t ruthless enough in their penalty area.
“We started both halves slowly and that’s what cost us, you can’t come to a club like Luton and find yourselves 2-0 down when you’ve had plenty of chances yourself.
“The first goal is only the second we’ve conceded from a set-piece which is a good record, but the timing of the goals killed the game for us.We still had chances and will reflect on that, we have to dust ourselves down and move on because I felt we surrendered the result.”
Luton’s first team coach Hakan Hayrettin was content that his side were worthy of the three points.
“It’s a fantastic three points for us and make no mistake, we’ve achieved
that against a big, strong and organised team. We had to match them physically, and we did,” he said.
“We got the goal and caught them cold and as the game went on we got stronger and stronger, they maybe had the better of the first half, but we matched them and not giving up has become one of our biggest qualities. And as the game went on, we got our reward, their goalkeeper made some good saves as well as ours, but we got the goals at the right times.
“We just had that bit of quality in front of goal that you need.”
This was a contest where early goals proved to be decisive as the Hatters struck within six minutes of the kick-off to both halves as they produced a confident home display. Edinburgh’s side travelled in high spirits after a run that had seen them defeated just once since the end of August against a Hatters side soundly beaten last time out at Morecambe, but the hosts clearly hadn’t read the script.
They roared out of the blocks, Jonathan Smith forcing Jamie Stephens into a fine save as early as the fourth minute.
They took the lead from a fine corner headed home by defender Wilkinson. Newport responded and should’ve levelled, Lee Minshull’s header from a Mark Byrne corner smashing the underside of the crossbar with no goal given despite Amber protestations the ball crossed the line.
Newport didn’t feel sorry for themselves and Shaun Jeffers forced Mark Tyler into a terrific stop before the interval.
The hosts started the second period in bright fashion with Nathan Doyle flashing across goal from Andy Drury’s perfect centre, once again a warning shot Newport didn’t heed.
Luton doubled their advantage within six minutes of the re-start, Mark Cullen winning a header as Stephens raced out looking to punch, a fatal error from the young stopper.
He was stranded as the ball pinged around Newport’s penalty area before the calm Rooney slammed home from 12-yards to put the Hatters in control at 2-0 with Newport again only able to threaten Tyler’s net without finding a decisive finish.
Edinburgh sent for the cavalry and introduced striker Rene Howe and Adam Chapman, but the hosts were cool and calm with a 2-0 cushion and County were a little ragged. After Howe and Zebroski missed chances to reduce the arrears, it was perhaps no surprise when substitute Howells made it 3-0 at the death to put the icing on Luton’s cake.
COOL HAND LUKE: Luton’s Luke Wilkinson celebrates the opening goal
THREE AND EASY: Jake Howells scores Luton’s third
STAR MAN LUKE ROONE