Luton Town and Blackburn Rovers played out a competitive and entertaining 1-1 draw. Luke Berry opened the scoring for the Hatters in the 69th minute with a left foot finish from six yards out after a miss-hit shot from James Collins. The lead didn’t last long as just three minutes later Blackburn hit back when Sam Gallagher struck from a few yards out after beating two defenders to a knockdown from Barry Douglas.
Both teams came into this game on the back of positive starts to the season with both looking to push even further up the table. In the build up to the game Joe Rothwell said that Blackburn expect to beat Luton which is an interesting comment to make when they are below Luton in the table.
Luton made two changes from the 1-1 draw at Huddersfield. Rhys Norrington-Davies and Elliott Lee came in for Pelly Ruddock and James Collins who both dropped to the bench. Blackburn also made two changes. Barry Douglas and Tom Trybull came in for Ryan Nyambe and Corry Evans. Nyambe dropped to the bench, Evans is injured.
Luton started the game on the front foot and had the first chance in the game. Norrington- Davies made a burst down the left hand side and cut in on his weaker right foot and had a shot from the edge of the area which went just wide of Kaminski’s right post. Luton continued to put early pressure on Blackburn who took time to adapt to the personnel changes and the slight tweaks in the formation that Nathan Jones made. Apart from a blocked shot from Lee, there wasn’t any other clear chances in the first quarter of the game. Blackburn’s best moments in the opening quarter of the game came from two headers. One was saved by Sluga but the whistle had already been blown by referee Gavin Ward for a foul. The second header was from a corner, poor marking from The Hatters meant the Blackburn attacker had a free header pushed away by Sluga directly into the path of Armstrong who converted. Luckily the flag was then raised as Armstrong was offside. Relief was the emotion at that point.
Halfway through the first half, both teams had enjoyed an equal amount of possession. From the 25th to 40th minute there was a lack of chances. The best moment in that spell came from Blackburn. Rothwell made a good break to the right by-line and put in a great cross which went straight through the area and out for a throw. Armstrong or Brereton hadn’t gambled, if they had they would have had a simple tap in.
The best football in the first half was played in the last five minutes of the half. In the 40th minute, Sluga presented Armstrong with a good opportunity with a poor throw out which was intended for Cranie. Dewsbury-Hall ensured there was no further work for Sluga in that passage of play as he did well to get back and get a block on Armstrong’s shot which took it away from goal. A few minutes later there was a good move from Luton which started with Moncur on the left who played a cross-field pass to Lee on the right who advanced to the edge of the area, the ball found it’s way to Cornick via a deflection from a Rovers defender. Frustratingly for Cornick his shot was straight at Kaminski. The last chance of the half came in the last minute from a corner. Another free header from Rovers was headed wide.
Tony Mowbray will have gone into the break disappointed that his team didn’t hit the target from the free headers they had in the half. Nathan Jones would have gone into the break pleased that his side was solid from open play but he will have wanted much more in the final third.
The second half was more entertaining than the first and at times it was end to end. For any neutrals that were watching they would have enjoyed the 45 minutes. It wasn’t so comfortable or enjoyable for either set of fans.
Like the first half, Luton made a fast start. The first chance of the half came from George Moncur. Dewsbury-Hall slotted a great ball through to him and he did very well to beat his man and get to the by-line. He put a decent cross in which hit Kaminski on the chest at his near post. It was a fairly comfortable save for a keeper of his standard. He has been called up by Belgium in the previous international breaks which shows he’s a very good keeper. He pulled out of the most recent squad after testing positive for Covid-19.
Dewsbury-Hall was involved again just a minute later as he led a counter-attack which ended up with him shooting weakly at Kaminski. Like in the first half Luton’s solid shape frustrated Blackburn which initially limited Blackburn to shots from distance which were blocked or way off target.
in the 59th minute, Nathan Jones was the first manager to make use of his extended bench. He’s been clear from the start of the season he wanted five subs so it was no surprise he used his bench quite early in the second half and as expected he used all five even though one was only on for a few seconds in added time. His first two were James Collins and James Bree for Lee and Cornick who had worked hard like they always do but lacked quality with their final ball. Collins added an aerial threat to Luton’s attack while Bree added energy up and down the right flank. He came on in a more advanced role than he is used to but he is more than capable of doing that role effectively to help the team.
The next big chance came in the 63rd minute when Dewsbury-Hall won the ball back and picked out Collins at the back post with a cross from the right which Collins will feel that he should have hit the target from. Blackburn had a few penalty appeals in the last half an hour of the game from challenges on Brereton and Armstrong. Luton were lucky that at least one didn’t get given against them.
Then the first goal of the game came in the 69th minute which came from some good possession for the home team, the ball found it’s way to Collins who had a shot on his left foot from just outside the area on the right central area of the pitch. As he did so he slipped, his miss-hit shot fell to Luke Berry from close range who poked the ball into the net with his left foot.
So often teams are most at risk of conceding when they’ve just scored and it happened again in this game as just three minutes later the visitors equalised which they will feel they deserved. Luton will feel that they could have done so much better defensively to stop the goal from happening. Firstly the cross from Harvey Elliott could have been stopped, then Cranie lost a battle in the air with the advanced Douglas which led to his header going across the box which the sub Gallagher was more alive to than both Pearson and Bradley. A rare lapse in concentration from the two centre backs who have had a brilliant start to the season.
Then the game became more end to end with both teams searching for a winner. Both teams made changes. Blackburn made an enforced change at right back. Rankin-Costello went off injured and Nyambe came on in his place. Luton made two further changes which were like for like. Moncur and Berry were replaced by Kazenga LuaLua and Pelly Ruddock
Luton’s best chance to win it came in the 79th minute. A corner was whipped in from the left and picked out Rea who headed it towards goal and his effort was pushed on to the post by Kaminski and cleared by the Blackburn defence. Blackburn’s best chance came late on as Sluga made a last-ditch save and the Luton defence couldn’t clear the ball away which led to a scramble which fortunately for The Hatters didn’t lead to another clear chance at goal. Blackburn had most the possession from then on till the end of the game and were putting the pressure on the Luton team without creating any significant chances.
Luton will view it as a point gained, Blackburn may feel they should have won it but ultimately a draw was a fair result. Before the reverse fixture at Ewood Park Rothwell should think about what he says otherwise the #teamslikeluton will be used by hatters fans again and little Luton (as they are viewed by most teams) could go up to Lancashire and win for the second season in a row.