League Two: Luton Town 7 Stevenage 1
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage battled hard but went down 7-1 against an in-form Luton Town side at Kenilworth Road this afternoon, in Boro’s heaviest ever defeat against their Bedfordshire neighbours.
Boro never gave up but were blown out of sight by a display of clinical finishing that saw Luton’s Luke Berry bag a hat-trick from midfield.
As well as Stevenage’s heaviest ever defeat to Luton, 7-1 is Boro’s worst Football League defeat – and one of the club’s worst results ever.
Stevenage started the game kicking towards their own fans in the Oak Road End, and had the first good chance of the game when Boro forward Matt Godden blazed over from a tight angle.
The 1988 League Cup winners were quick to counter, and with barely two minutes on the clock Berry rose at the far post to head in a deep cross from Jack Stacey.
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Boro were almost straight back level when Danny Newton had a golden chance on six minutes, heading wide from close range with the goal gaping – but again in-form Luton were quick to react.
Only a minute later, a defensive mix-up from Boro put Luton’s Danny Hylton in on his own on the right-hand side of the penalty area. He side-stepped two Stevenage men near the goal line before steering a low shot back in at the near post to put the Hatters two goals up after seven minutes.
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The men from Broadhall Way congregated around Darren Sarll after the second goal for some extra instructions before the game restarted.
The hosts remained in the ascendancy during an occasionally bad-tempered first 15 minutes, during which the referee Brett Huxtable only booked the visitors’ Jonathan Smith – one of four ex-Luton players in the Stevenage team. Joe Martin was also booked on 22 minutes.
Stevenage were just coming back into the game when it became 3-0 on 21 minutes. Former Hatter Luke Wilkinson had just headed wide from a set-piece when Luton counter-attacked quickly from a corner, with Berry tucking a low shot past Joe Fryer into the right-hand corner.
Boro didn’t let their heads drop, and kept plugging away to get back into the match. A long cross to Newton on 33 minutes almost found him on the edge of the six-yard box, but he failed to beat Luton skipper Scott Cuthbert in the air.
Two minutes later it almost got even worse for Boro when Olly Lee headed towards the corner from close range, but Fryer was equal to it with a superb diving save low to his left.
Stevenage finally got back into the game during first-half injury time, when Ben Kennedy managed to wriggle his way through on the right-hand-side of the area before prodding a low shot past Stech into the bottom corner to make it 3-1 at the interval.
Boro started the second half brightly, but were three goals behind again on 52 minutes after a poor pass intercepted by Hylton led to Luton’s fourth.
Hylton laid it on for his strike partner James Collins, who took the ball into the left-hand side of the box before being pushed to the ground by Wilkinson.
It was Hylton who took the resulting spotkick, passing it into the bottom-right-hand corner as Fryer despairingly dived the wrong way.
Luton didn’t let up, and piled on the pressure as the Kenilworth Road faithful roared for more. The hosts had two more penalty shouts on 55 minutes, one for an alleged handball.
A minute later a neat move for Stevenage saw Matt Godden played through, but he couldn’t get on the end of it and it rolled out for a goal kick.
It became 5-1 on 63 minutes, when an interception from Berry on the edge of the Luton box led to a Hatters counter-attack – ending with Berry himself curling in from outside the Boro area for his hat-trick.
Darren Sarll introduced McKee and Wootton in place of Dale Gorman and Danny Newton after the fifth goal, and on 68 minutes Wootton had a chance – but he shot over from close range.
The 595 Stevenage fans were much subdued towards the end of the game, though there was a smattering of “Boro ‘til I die” as the clock ticked over 80 minutes. Alex Samuel replaced Matt Godden with six minutes to go, as Sarll looked on from the sideline with arms crossed.
After Wootton scuffed a speculative shot wide from outside the area, it got even worse for Stevenage.
A pass from Luton sub Elliot Lee put in young full-back James Justin to make it 6-1 to Luton as the game entered injury time. After Boro skipper Ronnie Henry heroically cleared off the line and Luton hit the post, Luke Gambin tucked in a rebound to make it 7-1 to the Bedfordshire side.
The miserable day leaves Stevenage outside the play-off spots in ninth, and it will be an unhappy trip back up the A505 for the Boro faithful.
Luton Town: Stech, Justin, Mullins, Cuthbert (captain), Stacey, Olly Lee, Hylton (Elliot Lee, 81’), Cornick (Gambin 75’), Rea (Mpanzu 65’), Berry, Collins
Stevenage: Fryer, Smith, Martin, Franks, Wilkinson, Kennedy, Pett, Gorman (McKee, 64’), Newton (Wootton, 64’), Godden (Samuel, 84’), Henry (captain)
Attendance: 9,208 (595 from Stevenage)