We're Top of the League
Number 24 Fred Onyedinma had a debut to remember as he played a part in all three goals that had Luton fans singing “We’re Top of the League” albeit a bit prematurely. Photo courtesy of Luton Town FC

Top of the League chants premature despite Luton win

“We’re top of the league” reverbed around a packed Kenilworth Road as Luton Town started the EFL Championship season with a convincing win over newly-promoted Peterborough United. Two late goals from Hull City in their 4-1 win over Preston North End stopped that from happening, but with the greatest manager of the modern era Sir Alex Ferguson in attendance Luton put in a professional performance his Manchester United teams of old could admire. Sadly, his son’s Peterborough was on the other end of said performance.

The opening ten minutes were nervy for the Hatters with a lot of missed passes and wasteful possession as they looked too eager to please a packed Kenilworth Road. It culminated in the seventh minute with Peterborough nearly taking the lead without a ‘Posh’ player ever touching the ball. 

From an uncontested drop ball halfway inside Luton’s half Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu laid the ball back to Gabriel Osho, who in turn laid it back to goalkeeper Simon Sluga. The Croatian international shot-stopper took his eye off the ball at the last second as it slipped past his foot and raced towards the goal. The keeper made amends though by racing back and sliding in to clear the ball before it could embarrassingly cross the line.

Luton’s first chance came in the twelfth minute with a quick counterattack started by Sluga. The Croatian came out and claimed Jorge Grant’s free-kick easily and picked out Harry Cornick on the right who flicked on to new signing Allan Campbell. A neat ball back to the winger gave Cornick space to cross but found his effort blocked. 

The ball spun back into play though instead of going harmlessly out for a throw. Cornick controlled and found James Bree behind him who whipped in a delightful cross for Jordan Clark to connect with. He couldn’t control his header though and it fizzed wide of the goal.

Three minutes later we had the first yellow of the game. Peterborough midfielder Jorge Grant played a loose ball across the center circle which Fred Onyedinma raced onto, beating Frankie Kent to push the ball forward. Kent had no option but to slide in and take out the pacy Onyedinma before he could break through on goal leaving referee Andy Woolmer no choice but to show a yellow card.

With 24 minutes on the clock former ‘Hatter’ Jorge Grant tried his luck from just outside the box, but it never really troubled Sluga. Manager Nathan Jones will be more worried by his defense’s lack of composure leading to the chance. Tomlinson’s cross was cleared straight up in the air from Kal Naismith and James Bree, with no pressure, headed straight to Grant for the shot.

It didn’t matter though as at the half-hour mark Elijah Anuoluwapo Oluwaferanmi Oluwatomi Oluwalana Ayomikulehin Adebayo (Trey’s new favorite player as he continues his education) put Luton on the scoresheet in typical center forward fashion.

Bree and Clark combined on the right to win a corner which the latter played short to Onyedinma. Peterborough defender Joe Ward let the summer signing from Wycombe Wanderers turn and, with a fantastic right foot, dink a cross that found Adebayo completely unmarked in the six-yard box. The striker cooly headed home off the post to erupt the sold-out Kenny which brought a tear to the eye given the 17 plus months we’ve had recently.

Goal: Adebayo. Assists: Onyedinma, Clark

Peterborough had a chance to level before the break. A long shot from Joe Tomlinson was palmed away to safety by Sluga and from the resulting throw, Peterborough attacked again only for Sluga to stop Jonson Clark-Harris at point-blank range. Osho cleared the resulting danger to give the Hatters a breather.

Luton started the second half brightly but it was Peterborough who had a penalty shout in the 50th minute. A corner from Grant was missed by Clark-Harris with Naismith right behind. The Luton player seemed to raise his hand to his face and the ball bounced off it and away. While it would have been soft, his hand is in an unnatural position and the protests from Peterborough were warranted.

Eighteen minutes later the game was all but over as Harry Cornick, who scored once in 41 games last season, put Luton two goals ahead with the simplest of finishes.

A poor giveaway by Peterborough sent Onyedinma away on the left-hand side. Once he cut into the box the Peterborough defenders were in trouble and his left-footed low cross found Cornick who beat his defender to the ball and poked home into an empty net. The forward won’t get a much easier goal but after last season Cornick will be aware they all count as “We’re Top of the League, We’re Top of the League, We’re Top of the League” rang out around Kenilworth Road. At that point they weren’t wrong.

Goal: Cornick. Assists: Onyedinma

Three minutes later the icing was on the cake and it was ready to be served. Of course, that man Onyedinma was involved again, but this time he was the one finishing as he got the goal his performance deserved.

Cornick did well to win a poor clearance from Peterborough and found Bree on the right. The former Aston Villa youth prospect put in a fantastic ball that missed Clark but found the oncoming Onyedinma who finished at the second attempt after a fantastic save originally from Christy Pym. It was well deserved for a performance that had the Kenilworth Road faithful giving a stand ovation as he was finally substituted in the 81st minute.

Goal: Onyedinma. Assists: Bree, Cornick

The rest of the game was a training exercise for Luton as they cantered through the final twenty minutes without much bother. The “we’re top of the league” chants might have been a bit pre-mature but if Luton can continue performing like this with improved fitness and sharpness there’s no reason that couldn’t happen sooner rather than later. For now, though we’ll take second and a clean sheet given three of our prominent back four from last season were out injured.

Highlight: The performance of Fred Onyedinma was electric and if he can stay consistent will light up Kenilworth Road.
Lowlight: Allan Campbell looked lost at times and was sloppy in possession too many times for my liking.
Newlight: Gabriel Osho didn’t play much last season but showed today he can handle himself with poise. Didn’t put a foot wrong all day.
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