Parma ham-mer outclassed Town
Pre-Season Friendly: Luton Town 0 (0) Parma 2 (1)
ITALIAN giants Parma proved just too streetwise at Kenilworth Road tonight as they hamstrung the Hatters 2-0, writes Mark Wood.
Luton’s passing football was every inch as good as the Italians’ for long periods but it was Parma who had the greater cutting edge as they netted either side of half time to seal victory.
The Serie A side named a host of international superstars in their starting XI, including the likes of Argentinian international striker Hernan Crespo, French U21 international Jonathan Biabiany and Italian U21 Fabiano Santacroce.
Stellar names were also included on their bench as a large number of their squad were forced to sit on the floor beside the dugout.
And yet it was Luton who crafted the first chance after just two minutes when Dan Gleeson’s deep cross was headed back to Alex Lawless by Robbie Willmott, but the Welshman could only drag a tame effort wide.
Luton were playing some lovely stuff with Parma very much on the back foot and when they did get the ball forward Crespo’s first touch went straight to Will Antwi.
Terrific Town were then left to curse the woodwork as a post came to the Italian’s rescue on eight minutes. James Dance and Aaron O’Connor combined beautifully and, after the winger’s first effort was smothered by Nicola Pavarini, the rebound thumped off the far post and out with no Luton player able to turn the ball home.
But the Hatters were caught with a real sucker punch moments later as Parma netted from their first attack, Nicola Domenico Sansone crossing for Biabiany to net at the far post.
Town though refused to buckle and should have levelled on 16 minutes when Willmott’s pinpoint cross from the left flank picked out Lawless in the box but he could only glance wide.
The impressive O’Connor poked at Pavarini from Lawless’ fine pass over the top, but Parma looked dangerous every time they went forward.
Sansone curled into Kevin Pilkington’s midriff while Dean Beckwith just did enough to turn Borini’s cross behind with Crespo lurking at the back post.
Having been so patient early on Luton were being forced into longer channel balls and only a brilliant sprawling stop from Pilkington kept out Crespo’s close range effort from Ze’ Eduardo De Araujo’s cross just past the half-hour mark.
A hefty challenge by Abderrazak Jadid worryingly forced Willmott off the field and Parma almost grabbed a second when Fabio Borini forced Curtis Osano into an error but Pilkington again denied Crespo with his legs.
Adam Watkins was introduced for Gleeson at the break and, although Luton continued to threaten, it was the Italians who netted again eight minutes into the second half when Osano could only turn Crespo’s dangerous cross past Pilkington with Borini unmarked at the back post.
Pilkington then once again saved with his legs, this time from Francesco Valiani, after Borini’s effort was deflected into his path.
Playmaker Borini was at the heart of everything for Parma and his brilliant cross picked out Manuel Coppola in the six-yard box, but the substitute could only volley over.
Dance’s daisycutter of a free-kick went under Parma’s defensive wall on 68 minutes but was straight at Pavarini, while only a superbly-timed last-gasp challenge from substitute Ed Asafu-Adjaye prevented Valiani from being left one-on-one with Pilkington.
Energised running from Godfrey Poku forced Pavarini into an error but Luton were unable to capitalise. Sebastian Giovinco dragged a good effort just wide at the other end with nine minutes to go, while Danny Crow’s mishit effort was easy pickings for Pavarini as Parma cruised to victory in this glamorous pre-season encounter.
Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, Dan Gleeson (Adam Watkins 46), Curtis Osano, Keith Keane, Dean Beckwith (C), Will Antwi, Alex Lawless (Godfrey Poku 73), James Dance (Amari Morgan-Smith 73), Aaron O’Connor (Nathan Elder 63), Jake Howells (Ed Asafu-Adjaye 63), Robbie Willmott (Danny Crow 37). Substitutes not used: Alex Lacey.
Parma: Nicola Pavarini, Rolf Felstcher, Jonathan Biabiany (Francesco Valiani 42), Hernan Crespo (C), Goncalo Brandao, Fabio Borini (Sebastian Giovinco 69), Nicola Domenico Sansone (Francesco Modesto 54), Abderrazak Jadid (Manuel Coppola 54), Gabriel Paletta, Fabiano Santacroce, Ze’ Eduardo De Araujo. Substitutes not used: Antonio Mirante, Stefano Morrone, Cristian Zaccardo, Alessandro Lucarelli, Daniele Galloppa, Graziano Pelle’.
Referee: C Berry.
Assistant Referees: A Coggins and D Robathan.
Star Hatter: Aaron O’Connor. Gave Luton a real edge leading the line but marginalised out wide.