Hatters go out but give Magpies a real fright
FA Cup third round: Newcastle United 3 Luton Town 1
Luton Town may well have gone out of the FA Cup at Newcastle this afternoon, but they did so with their heads held high after a second half display that saw them going toe to toe with their Premier League opponents, giving Rafa Benitez's side a massive fright.
It had looked like the Hatters were going to be put to the sword after a 10 minute period late in the first half in which they conceded three times to fall 3-0 down in the blink of an eye.
But those fears were allayed when Danny Hylton pulled one back just moments into the second period, to start a rip-roaring second period in which Elliot Lee thundered a free kick against the bar, ensuring the visitors, roared on by 7,500 travelling fans took most, if not all of the plaudits.
The Hatters made two changes, Dan Potts fit enough to resume at left back and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu in as the holding midfielder, with Glen Rea dropping to centre half in place of the suspended Alan Sheehan, James Justin moving across to right back, Jack Stacey on the bench.
Magpies' boss Benitez kept his word about naming a strong XI, making just four changes from the team that won 1-0 at Stoke, with Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey all in from the word go.
The hosts almost had the lead inside a minute, Luton forced into some desperate defending, but Town soon settled down, Andrew Shinnie's cross too long for James Collins, Luke Berry denied a break by a last-ditch challenge and Lee's free kick headed wide by Collins
The striker's touch then eluded him as Woodman was forced into another rushed clearance, before Marek Stech was busy on 15 minutes, palming aside Jacob Murphy's curling attempt.
Town were definitely in the contest though, not parking the bus by any means, as they carried a goal threat at all times, Hylton's cross cut out before it could reach Collins.
They had to keep their wits about them at the back as expected though, Stech parrying Perez's low shot away, and Mullins tidying up, before the striker fired well over from a good position.
However, Luton's hard work was undone on the half hour as a free kick by Jacob Murphy was spilled by Stech and Perez made him pay, tapping into the net.
It was a real shame for the visitors, as they had been holding their own in the contest until that point, although the goal didn't initially appear to knock them out of their stride.
Shelvey missed from 20 yards, as did Gayle, but that crucial second arrived on 36 minutes, when Stech made a superb point blank save from Gayle, but Perez was there to net the rebound.
Visiting boss Nathan Jones could only watch on in anguish as Newcastle did to his side what they have done to so many others this term, breaking away with clinical efficiency, Shelvey rolling an effort past Stech to make it 3-0.
Berry was wide with a header on the stroke of half time, as the Hatters chief brought off Mpanzu at the break, Harry Cornick coming on.
Luton made a bright start too, Berry picked out by Shinnie, only to see his effort charged down, before they did pull one back on 49 minutes.
Rea's ball forward saw Hylton played onside by Ciaran Clark and with Freddie Woodman racing out, he coolly rounded the keeper, and beat the covering defender to make it 3-1.
Newcastle almost put the game to bed instantly, Perez left unmarked only to see Stech make a wonderful reaction stop to prevent the hat-trick.
A corner saw Gayle whistle his volley inches over, while Hylton and the visiting faithful then thought they were well and truly back in the contest, the striker producing an unerring finish beyond Woodman from Shinnie's one-two.
However, unbeknown to the striker, massed ranks of Town followers and PA announcer, the flag had already been raised, as Hylton was left with a wry smile on his face, having to face the sarcastic cheers from the home fans as his celebrations were cut short.
Newcastle started to lose their aura of calm, Isaac Hayden booked for lunge on Collins, who was soon replaced by Elliot Lee, as both Lee brothers were now on in front of watching dad and Geordie legend Rob.
Town started to make opportunities, Johnny Mullins wide from a corner, while Elliot Lee took aim from a free kick just outside the D with 16 minutes to go, his curler smacking against the bar.
Still Luton pressed, Shinnie's attempt palmed away by Woodman, just beyond the lurking Hylton and Elliot Lee.
Newcastle weren't without their chances late on though as Town committed men forward, Murphy, Ritchie twice and sub Mo Diame going close, before Hatters had a glorious opportunity in stoppage time.
Elliot Lee released Luke Gambin, who side-stepped his way round one, but slid wide of the target, as United avoided a tricky last 90 seconds and put their name in the hat for the fourth round draw next week.
Magpies: Freddie Woodman, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, Jamall Lascelles (Isaac Hayden 31, C), Jacob Murphy, Jonjo Shelvey (Mohammed Diame 71), Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez, Javier Manquillo, Mikel Merino (Herni Saivet 80).
Subs not used: Rolando Aarons, Joselu, Massadio Haidara, Karl Darlow.
Hatters: Marek Stech, James Justin, Dan Potts, Johnny Mullins (C), Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Harry Cornick 46), Luke Berry, Olly Lee, Andrew Shinnie (Luke Gambin 82), Danny Hylton, James Collins (Elliot Lee 68).
Subs not used: James Shea, Akin Famewo, Jordan Cook, Jack Stacey.
Booked: Hylton 29, Shelvey 60, Hayden 66.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.
Attendance: 47,069. (7,500 Luton).
Hatters MOM: Danny Hylton. Sparkled on the big stage.