Town: Leutwiler, Gayle, Demetriou, Grandison, Goldson (c), Knight-Percival, Clark (Robinson, 86), Wesolowski, Woods, Vernon (Akpa Akpro, 77), Collins (Josh Ginnelly, 90)
Subs not used: Burton, Caton, Ellis, Griffith
Luton Town: Tyler, McNulty (c), Benson, Howells, Cullen (Lafayette, 58), Rooney (Lacey, 13), Gutteridge (Mpanzu, 68), Robinson, Stevenson, Connolly, Wilkinson
Subs not used: Justham, Wall, Miller, Williams
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: 5,888 (1,037 from Luton)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
A quite superb performance from Shrewsbury Town put League 2 new boys Luton Town to the sword at the Meadow this afternoon.
Town were on top from first whistle to last and scored a goal in each half to preserve their 100% home record. Jordan Clark scored his first ever league goals - although Hatters keeper Mark Tyler contributed heavily to his second after 70 minutes - with Luton’s misery compounded by the late dismissal of Matt Robinson.
Andy Mangan’s unfortunate injury - suffered whilst scoring the winning goal at Premier League Leicester City in midweek - sidelined the striker, which opened the door for Scott Vernon to partner James Collins in attack. That was Micky Mellon’s only change to the side which triumphed at the KingPower Stadium to his starting XI, but Callum Burton, Mark Ellis, Josh Ginnelly and recent capture from Port Vale, Anthony Griffith, were all named amongst the substitutes.
Amidst a gloomy blackdrop it was the Hatters, backed by a sizeable following from Bedfordshire, who got the game underway attacking the South end of the Greenhous.
Within three minutes Clark had Town in front. Vernon had already fired a warning shot across Luton’s bows when he got on the end of Connor Goldson’s long pass a minute earlier. That time, Tyler in the visitors’ goal closed down the space but when it happened again straight after, the Hatters keeper was left dreadfully exposed by a high backline. Clark killed Goldson’s killer pass in an instant and calmly stroked the ball under Tyler for a dream start.
John Still made a change after just 13 minutes with Luke Rooney replaced by Alex Lacey. Town had enjoyed a huge amount of possession and the midfielder didn’t appear to be carrying a knock when he was withdrawn, so perhaps the change was for tactical reasons.
Tyler then seemed to land awkwardly taking a high ball from Mickey Demetriou under pressure from Vernon, but he was still agile enough to save Vernon’s 20th minute effort with the Hatters still being forced to defend for long periods. Demetriou saw a shot charged down and Ryan Woods fired over as Shrews continued to boss the game.
Collo was next to put his effort too high after a really incisive team move, and the Irishman chanced his arm again with a sweet curling effort a minute later that this time wasn’t quite high enough with Tyler able to claim under his bar.
It was one-way traffic with Luton unable to get out of their own half, and Collins had another shot which fell easily for Tyler. Town must have managed at least a dozen attempts on goal in the first third of the game but still had only that early goal from Vernon to show for their superiority.
Goldson had to be alert at the other end to block Mark Cullen’s low cross intended for one-time Town target Paul Benson, but Luton didn’t make much of their opportunity from the resultant corner-kick.
Two minutes before the interval Robinson tested Jayson Leutwiler for the first time, but the shot from distance was at a decent height for the big Swiss keeper and he easily beat it away.
Collins flashed a header just wide from another telling ball in from Demetriou and that was the last action of the half.
Half Time: Town 1 Luton Town 0
Town’s passing was neat and tidy after the resumption but the massed ranks of white shirts got in the way of an end product. The home supporters in a crowd of just under 6,000 were certainly enjoying their team’s style of play with a second goal looking likely to arrive at any time.
Woods was making Town tick in the centre of the park and was an instrumental figure in keeping Salop on the front foot.
After 57 minutes that second goal should have been in the bag. Woods and Clark constructed a lovely move which set Vernon free down the right and his deep, probing cross was met on the full by Collins’ forehead only for Tyler to make a fine reactionary stop at his front post. Vernon glanced another header wide in the next attack and really, the Kenilworth Road side should have been dead and buried before the hour mark.
Tyler saved again from Woods with the youngster seemingly on a one man crusade to land the sponsor’s post-match bubbly. He was almost unplayable he was that good.
The second goal finally came with 20 minutes left and although the stadium announcer gave the goal to Clark, it looked very much like an own-goal from Tyler. The keeper had enjoyed a reasonable afternoon but it all went horribly wrong when Clark’s free-kick on the far side went through his gloves like a bar of wet soap, and dropped softly behind him and into the goal.
It was nothing less than a rampant Shrewsbury deserved though. There had only been one team in the game throughout its entirety and there had been much to admire from Mellon’s newly constructed side.
Vernon thundered a shot against the underside of the bar when it looked easier to score but how could you be critical of such an impressive display from 1 to 11? Vernon was replaced by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro a minute later and came off to deserved applause in Mellon’s first switch of the afternoon.
Collins was thwarted by Tyler when his first touch might have been a shade better and the striker looked furious to have spurned his opening. Undeterred, he was soon making Tyler work again with the keeper turning over his 20 yarder.
With seven minutes remaining the Hatters were reduced to 10 men. Robinson’s lunge on Cameron Gayle didn’t look the best and Peter Bankes – in his first full season as a league referee – produced a straight red as Luton’s chances of rescuing something from the game went right out the window.
Akpa Akpro worked Tyler again with a fierce angled drive before Andy Robinson was given a run out for the industrious Clark.
Josh Ginnelly might have had only a 60 second appearance on his debut at first team level, but at least he was on the pitch to soak up the thunderous applause from the stands on the whistle. An excellent afternoon’s entertainment.
Full Time: Town 2 Luton Town 0