The Football League Paper - - FA CUP - By Gra­ham Ot­way

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.”

PICTURES: Ac­tion Images

ALL SQUARE: Lu­ton’s Johnny Mullins scores their sec­ond

HOPE: Solihull’s Jamie Os­borne scores their sec­ond

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