MOORS HIT FOR SIX BY HATTERS
Agame that totally lived up to the age-old footballing proverb ‘a game of two halves’ saw Luton move into the third round of Emirates Cup with a comfortable-looking win against nonleague Solihull Moors.
Yet for the first 45 minutes of the match the National League outfit looked firmly on course to reach the third round for the first time in their history.
Two coolly-taken goals from Jamie Osborne in the fifth and 35th minute had given them the lead with the midfielder cleverly curling his first into the far top corner from a tight angle.
And since Luton’s only firsthalf effort was a shot six yards wide of the target by Alan Sheehan it would have taken a mad hatter to predict they would later climb up the next rung of the ladder towards Wembley.
As the 635 visiting fans at half-time chanted mischeviously, yet with some justification, “Football League – you are having a laugh.” Yet while Luton manager Nathan Jones said he spared his players a half-time dressing room tongue lashing he did make one crucial change to his line up, bringing on Steve O’Donnell at rightback in place of James Justin.
“Although we were lacklustre in the first half I didn’t have a mental go at the players. What I did was change our shape,” said Jones.
“I brought on Steve because he can be so strong going forward and once we started breaking and creating chances we got what we deserved.”
It was not just O’Donnell who started to put Solihull under pressure. They also struggled to cope with the fast breaks and finishing of Jack Marriott.
His long ball laid on Luton’s first for Danny Hylton in the 51st minute , Johnny Mullins cleverly picked his spot from the edge of the area for their second three minutes later and the floodgates were wide open when, on the hour, O’Donnell broke down the right to score the first of his two goals.
“I didn’t expect to get a striking role,” said O’Donnell. “But we played a lot better in the second half and I was pleased to play a big part in it and it is good to be going into the hat for the next round.”
Luton’s comeback was prob- ably put out of proportion by Mariott and O’Donnell both scoring their second goals in the last five minutes.
It was not lost on Solihull’s young manager Liam MacDonald that his side might have been three up before the break had Akwasi Asante not missed a golden opportunity from a few yards out.
“I think if Akwasi had taken that chance it would have been 3-0 and it might have been all over then,” said McDonald.
“I was very disappointed with the end result but I thought we were good early on when Jamey Osborne was the best player on the field and almost controlled the game. But then we hit a brick wall after halftime.”
ALL SQUARE: Luton’s Johnny Mullins scores their second
HOPE: Solihull’s Jamie Osborne scores their second