FA Cup, first round: Crawley Town 1 Luton Town 2
Striker Josh McQuoid scored an excellent second half double as Luton Town moved through to the next round of the FA Cup with a last-gasp victory at Crawley Town this afternoon.
The forward, who had already netted a cracking first to open the scoring, pounced with a lethal finish in injury time after Crawley made a hash of clearing their lines, with the ball rebounding invitingly into McQuoid’s path.
After losing 2-1 in the League Two clash three weeks ago with a performance that Town manager John Still labelled Luton’s worst 45 minutes of the season, this victory was all about Hatters’ display after the interval for the right reasons, as they wrested the initiative back from their hosts.
Although conceding shortly after McQuoid’s opener, the introduction of Paul Benson and Danny Green proved key midway through the half as Hatters moved into Monday’s draw.
Luton opted to rotate their goalkeepers for the first round tie with Elliot Justham coming in for his first action since August, while Olly Lee replaced Nathan Doyle in midfield.
The visitors had the first chance as Rhys Murphy, who scored against Luton in the 2-1 League Two victory, turned Luke Wilkinson to send a volley over Justham’s bar.
Full back Christian Scales then eased past Jonathan Smith with a mazy run, as his dangerous cross was just turned behind by Luke Wilkinson.
Crawley definitely had the better of the opening 10 minutes as Roarie Deacon’s goalbound shot was deflected for a corner by a last ditch Scott Cuthbert, while Jimmy Smith’s volley flew off target.
However, Luton then managed to get Luke Guttridge on the ball and he began knitting play together, as Jonathan Smith took aim from 30 yards, Darryl Flahavan acrobatically palming behind.
McQuoid and Wilkinson saw efforts deflected for corners but Luton couldn’t fashion anything at the Red Devils’ goal from the set-pieces.
The hosts then took charge as their movement was too much for the Town defence, Gwion Edwards’ snapshot comfortably held by Justham.
Luton’s keeper should have been fishing the ball out of his net though on 30 minutes when Jimmy Smith burst clear, sidefooting badly wide with just the stopper to beat.
Both sides had excellent opportunities before the half came to a close as good work by Marriott saw Guttridge free in the area, but with both McQuoid and Lawless screaming for the cut-back, he opted to shoot, dragging narrowly wide.
Crawley then went straight up the other end and an Edwards shot fell into the part of Murphy, but Justham readjusted well to stick out a leg and boot the danger away.
The hosts might have also led as a cross fell at the feet of Deacon, who dallied, allowing Cuthbert to block, the rebound shanked well wide by Murphy.
In the second period, Luton, clearly determined not to produce a repeat of their league showing, got off to a decent start too, Sean Long’s deep cross turned over by the back-pedalling Flahavan and Griffiths’ close range attempt easier for the home stopper.
Luton were then in front on 54 minutes when Lawless’ burst saw him pick out McQuoid who took a touch and curled a delightful 25-yarder over the diminutive Flahavan and into the net.
Edwards set off on a mazy run from the edge of his own box, to try and level the scores, carrying the ball deep into Luton territory before teeing up Matt Harrold who was denied low down by Justham.
Hatters swapped Marriott for Benson with Luton almost adding a wonderful second when Lee’s sweetly struck half volley from 30 yards took a nick of the Luton sub and flashed wide.
However, Crawley restored parity on 63 minutes when old adversary Harrold wasn’t tracked and he easily nodded home a corner from a matter of yards.
The home fans were off their seats again shortly afterwards as Sonny Bradley connected with Walton’s deliciously whipped cross only for it to hit the side-netting.
Lee tried his luck once more, just unable to keep it down, while Green came on for a rare appearance and looked sharp, sending in a cross that Benson failed to connect with an ungainly overhead attempt.
McQuoid sensed his second, cutting in and beating two players before failing to find the target from 20 yards, while Justham was called into action as he collected Christian Scales’ goalbound flick low down.
However, Hatters won it in the final seconds as a long ball forward saw Benson produce a fine impression of a winger, beating Bradley and delivering a cross that eventually fell at the feet of McQuoid to crash home a later winner.
Daggers: Darryl Flahavan, Christian Scales, Simon Walton (Luke Rooney 85), Sonny Bradley (C), Gwion Edwards, Jimmy Smith, Lewis Young, Matt Harrold, Roarie Deacon (Shamir Fenelon 86), Josh Yorwerth, Rhys Murphy (Lee Barnard 81).
Subs not used: Callum Preston, Jon Ashton, Gavin Tomlin, Ross Jenkins.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Sean Long, Scott Griffiths, Scott Cuthbert (C), Luke Wilkinson, Jonathan Smith, Olly Lee, Alex Lawless (Danny Green 68), Luke Guttridge, Josh McQuoid, Jack Marriott (Paul Benson 60).
Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Paddy McCourt, Mark O’Brien, Dan Potts, Cameron McGeehan.
Attendance: 1,929 (Luton 487).
Booked: Walton 21.
Referee: Nick Kinseley.
Hatters MOM: Josh McQuoid. Two fine finishes from the forward who looked hungry for goals.