HASSELBAINK HAPPY WITH UGLY WIN AS LUTON FADE
Palmer is Burton Albion’s hero
IT WAS far from pretty but Burton Albion manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink admitted he couldn’t care less as his Brewers took another step towards promotion.
The visitors were never in top gear throughout this match, but Matty Palmer’s deflected winner on 79 minutes proved the difference as Burton set their sights on League One.
And while it was a hard slog, Brewers boss Hasselbaink was quick to praise his side’s professionalism in getting over the line
“Luton are fighting for their lives, they’re playing for this wonderful crowd who are going to be their 12th man,” he said. “I think at stages we controlled the game, they had no chances, or maybe a 50-50 one.
“It was a tight game as it’s always going to be, and you know that we can score at any moment, especially when we have runners forward.
“The position that Matty was in, that’s the position we want him in, in front of goal, and shooting at goal.
“It was a professional performance and we needed to be professional, needed to be right, needed to be very disciplined and hard to beat and I think we were that. I’m delighted with three points.”
Meanwhile, for Luton boss John Still it was a case of missed opportunities as his side lost further ground in the play-off race.
Still said: “We had three great chances, they had one deflected shot, what can we do about that?
“We’ve played well, had chances, haven’t won, but that’s football. I’m really pleased with how we played and disappointed not to have got something from the game.
“We wanted to come out and attack and I think we did. I actually thought we ground them down, the movement for Scott Griffiths’ chance was fantastic.
“If I look at the 90 minute game, playing a team that’s in good form and in good spirits. To limit them to very little, I was very pleased.”
After Adam McGurk directed his header wide from Lucas Akins’ cross, it was the hosts who easily had the better chances in the opening period. Paul Benson put a volley over the top, while Michael Harriman fired into the side-netting and then Elliot Lee’s attempt couldn’t trouble Jon McLaughlin.
Alex Lawless’ low curler was also narrowly wide of the mark as Burton took a while to get into their stride. When they did, Phil Edwards’ long-range attempt was easily fielded by Elliot Justham, before the Luton keeper claimed Akins’ drive from 20 yards.
Just before the half-time whistle, the Hatters had another fine opening when Jake Howells’ free-kick was met by Lee at the far post, but he nodded into the crowd.
In the second period, McGurk headed straight at Justham, with Howells then bursting down the wing as Paul Benson’s toe-poke was deflected behind.
Full-back Griffiths then had a marvellous opportunity after a neat move on the left, finding himself one-on-one with McLaughlin, only to fizz over the top.
McGurk’s free-kick located Justham’s gloves, while Burton sub Abdenasser El Khayati arrowed wide shortly after coming off the bench.
Luke Guttridge then dragged off target at the other end, with his miss proving crucial as moments later Palmer was left in acres of space to fire past Justham, with Hatters’ fans screaming for an offside flag that never came.
Luton still could have rescued a point though, but top scorer Mark Cullen could only loft his shot over as the Hatters were beaten on home soil for the fourth game running.
Results elsewhere mean Burton could be promoted the next time they take the field, but after such a magnificent start to the campaign, Luton are faced with the very real prospect of another season at this level after promising so much.
FLOORED: Elliot Justham is beaten by Matty Palmer’s deflected strike
LEAP: Denny Johnstone hurdles the challenge of Steve McNulty
STAR MAN MICHA