Hatters ran out 2-0 winners
Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu celebrates after putting Luton in the lead against Wycombe. The Hatters ran out 2-0 winners. Photo: Luton Town Football Club

Despite controlling most of the game and having better chances, Luton’s win over Wycombe was not without controversy. The Hatters ran out 2-0 winners to record their third win in four games but had a scare at 1-0 when Wycombe had a seemingly good goal disallowed. Luton deserved the win, but several missed chances and lack of a killer ball could have easily come back to haunt them. Wycombe remains without a win or a goal since winning promotion last season.

Luton started slowly during the first 45 minutes, where some of the sloppiest play occurred at Kenilworth Road. A lot of the problems for Luton came from final balls or a lack of them. Rhys Norrington-Davies had a cross easily cleared from the left after 15 minutes, and Harry Cornick seemed to be a deer in the headlights on 22 minutes when he was released on the right. The winger’s lack of a quick decision meant the attack led to nothing, and his cross ended up being easily cleared by Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop.

“You can never feel totally comfortable when you play against Wycombe because they’re direct, they run, they put you under pressure.”

Nathan Jones talks about Wycombe’s Strengths post match

Less than a minute later, Cornick broke again, and this time did get a cross into the box. Unfortunately, Jordan Clark, making his first start in the league in place of Elliott Lee, couldn’t control the ball, and it again was quickly cleared by the Wycombe defense. Luke Berry then came close in the 31st minute when his corner swung towards the goal, only to bounce off the bar. It wouldn’t have counted as Marty Pearson was called for a foul on Allsop in the build-up to the corner been taken.

Probably the best play of the half came right before half time as Cornick and Berry linked up on the right and set Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu free. His cross from the byline to the back post was headed towards goal by Clark. Unfortunately for the former Accrington Stanley player, his header beat Allsop, but not the covering defender Darius Charles.

“It would have been a shame performance-wise if we had drawn that game. Without being disrespectful, you have to generate your own momentum and I thought we did that after about 30 minutes when the game started opening up a little bit, and then we came into and got into unbelievable positions.”

Nathan Jones on his own team’s performance against Wycombe

In the case of gamesmanship, the second half was delayed by nearly five minutes as Wycombe seemed to forget there was a game to be played and stayed in the dressing room. It is unsure if the linesman informed them to return on his way back out to the pitch, something that is a part of his job, but manager Gareth Ainsworth seemed to play dumb when approached by the referee when they did reappear. When the whistle finally did blow to restart the match, Luton played with the more emphasis on attack, moving the ball a lot quicker than in the first half.

Despite that, Wycombe had the early second-half chances, first through Daryl Horgan and then Jack Grimmer. Midfielder Dennis Adeniran, on loan from Premier League side Everton, put Horgan through in the 49th minute, but his shot was pushed wide by Simon Sluga in the Luton goal. In the 55th minute, a long throw from Grimmer was flicked on by David Wheeler and hit Luke Berry’s outstretched foot. Sluga was alert, though, and palmed it away at the near post.

“I’m delighted with the win. We should have scored more but we go into the international break in a real good place.”

Nathan Jones happy as the Hatters ran out 2-0 winners

Four minutes later, Luton was in the lead. It is believed that midfielder Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu only scores bangers, and this one was no different. Playing off the left, Harry Cornick picked up the ball at the edge of the Wycombe box and laid it back to Pelly. All the midfielder needed was one touch to set himself up before curling an unbelievable shot from 35 yards out past a diving Allsop. The possession indicated nothing less than Luton deserved, but control means nothing unless you do something with it.

Wycombe upped the tempo and had a chance to equalize in the 64th minute through Anthony Stewart. At the far post, the defender met a Joe Jacobson set-piece, but his header hit Matty Pearson before being pushed away by Sluga.

“We needed that second to rubber-stamp it, we had a little scare in terms of the offside goal. If it’s offside, it’s offside, but I thought we were the better side today without disrespecting anyone, so I’m pleased with that.”

Nathan Jones on needing that second goal

Luton should have put the game to bed two minutes later. Cornick broke down the left from a quick counter-attack. After keeping it in on the sideline, the winger nutmegged the defender to give himself time and space. Cornick’s cross to Luke Berry was shot by the midfielder straight at the recovering Ryan Allsop instead of away from him.

In the 88th minute, Wycombe did have the ball in the net when Adeniran flicked on for Scott Kashket but ruled out the striker’s goal due to offside. Replays showed the finest of margins if any, but it provided Luton the jolt needed to not rest on their laurels. In the 89th minute, Elliott Lee killed the game off with a cool finish from a Kazenga Lua-Lua pass as the Hatters ran out 2-0 winners.

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