Hatters are taught a lesson by Pompey

League Two: Luton Town 1 Portsmouth 3

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 10:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 10:26 am
Danny Hylton powers in his 12th goal of the season

Luton Town's nine game unbeaten run was ended all too easily by fellow promotion hopefuls Portsmouth at Kenilworth Road this evening.

In a week where boss Nathan Jones was searching for maximum points to make a concerted push for the top three, he had seen his team get off to the perfect start against Morecambe on Saturday.

However, despite taking the lead early through Danny Hylton's superb header, once Pompey quickly restored parity, there really only looked like one winner in front of a season's high gate of 8,805, with the visitors giving Luton a taste of the medicine they had dished out at the Globe Arena.

Hatters were unsurprisingly unchanged for the clash, but Pompey almost went in front on three minutes, Matt Clarke's header going through Christian Walton, with Alan Sheehan clearing from on his own line in the nick of time.

The game then burst into life as first, Hylton leapt like a salmon to power a magnificent header home from Sheehan's cross on seven minutes.

There was a hint of controversy as full back Gareth Evans had gone down in the build-up, but play wasn't halted by referee David Coote, in what was a quite brilliant 12th of the season for Hylton.

Hatters top marksman thought he had a second moments later, tapping home after superb work from Isaac Vassell, but an offside flag stunted the celebrations.

Pompey were level within three minutes. Michael Smith producing a beautifully measured angled side-footed finish from 20 yards that was beyond the diving Walton, ending the keeper's run of three straight clean sheets.

The next 20 minutes made for engrossing viewing as for once Luton were up against a side willing to attack them on home soil, Gary Roberts sending a header at Walton on the half hour.

Hatters then opted for the Paul Scholes corner routine, with Sheehan picking out Olly Lee, whose connection was true, just six yards wide.

Pompey responded with a clever set-piece effort of their own, Roberts picking out captain Michael Doyle, who volleyed into the side-netting as the visitors produced some excellent football at times, Evans' deep cross just beyond Roberts.

Walton had to fly through the air to deny Roberts from range after both Sheehan and Lee gave the ball away, with Hylton's 25-yard rasper drawing a parry from Forde.

Pompey turned it around on the stroke of half time though as a corner wasn't properly cleared, with Evans hammering into the net from close range.

The visitors asserted a clear degree of control in the second period, as they could and should have put Luton out of sight, Christian Burgess nodding against the bar and then a completely unmarked Evans glancing woefully wide from eight yards.

Pompey kept Luton at an arms length with relative ease too, the visiting centre halves' heads like a magnet to any cross in their vicinity, Luton's only effort of note a tame right footer that was easy for Forde.

Cameron McGeehan then epitomised the growing frustration encompassing the ground, shooting well over from 25 yards.

Despite their lack of threat, Luton almost grabbed an equaliser out of nothing when inside the final 10 minutes, Forde made a mess of James Justin's high and hanging cross, with Sheehan's volley rolling in, but for the perfectly positioned Burgess.

The visitors then made the game safe with five minutes to go, sub Kai Naismith lashing home from an acute angle as Hatters could have no complaints with the evening's final outcome.

Hatters: Christian Walton, James Justin (Craig Mackail-Smith 86), Alan Sheehan, Johnny Mullins, Glen Rea, Olly Lee, Alex Gilliead (Jordan Cook 57), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton, Isaac Vassell (Jack Marriott 79).

Subs not used: Craig King, Scott Cuthbert, Stephen O'Donnell, Jonathan Smith.

Pompey: David Forde, Enda Stevens, Danny Rose, Matt Clarke, Christian Burgess, Carl Baker, Michael Doyle (C), Michael Smith (Noel Hunt 90), Gary Roberts (Kai Naismith 74), Kyle Bennett (Jack Whatmough 88), Gareth Evans.

Subs not used: Milan Lalkovic, Liam O'Brien, Amine Linganzi, Drew Talbot.

Attendance: 8,805 (975 Pompey).

Booked: Evans 17, Stevens 49, Rose 60, Lee 63, Sheehan 64, Hunt 90.

Referee: David Coote.