90’+5’Full TimeSecond Half ends, Luton Town 2, Middlesbrough 1.90’+4’Post updateAttempt missed. Elijah Adebayo (Luton Town) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ryan Tunnicliffe.
Luton Town claimed a controversial victory over Championship play-off rivals Middlesbrough to strengthen their place in third. The visitors took the early initiative in an entertaining meeting at Kenilworth Road, with Cameron Archer scoring a cool opener to put Michael Carrick’s side ahead. Luton hit back through Tom Lockyer’s header after the break, before Carlton Morris scored from the spot after appearing to fall with minimal contact from Boro keeper Zack Steffen while trying to round him.
Luton’s win – the first time they have won five consecutive home games since December 2018 – keeps their slim hopes of automatic promotion alive for at least a further 48 hours. But, realistically, the Hatters will be preparing for the play-offs knowing that a Sheffield United victory against West Brom on Wednesday will see the Blades join Burnley in the Premier League. With Boro likely to finish fourth the two could meet again in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on 29 May.
Middlesbrough made five changes from Wednesday’s win against Hull including leaving the Championship’s top scorer, Chuba Akpom, on the bench. But they had the better of things early on and wasted the first big chance in the 19th minute. Anfernee Dijksteel released Isaiah Jones down the right flank – the wing-back rolled the ball into the feet of the on-coming Matt Crooks, who scooped his shot over. Luton fashioned an opportunity at the other end eight minutes later when Morris was picked out by Elijah Adebayo only for Jonny Howson to hook the ball away. Luton tried again, only for Cody Drameh’s cross to be scrambled away.
Boro opened the scoring late in the first half when Archer made an intelligent run to finish off a slick move. Crooks played a brilliant long-ball down into the path of the Aston Villa loanee after Howson had cleared a corner. Ethan Horvath came out to smother, but Archer chased down the ball, touched it past the Luton keeper, before rolling his final touch calmly into the empty net. Luton went close to equalising just before the break. Adebayo brushed his way into the penalty area, trying his luck with a deflected cross-shot which almost caught Steffen out. Boro cleared just as Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu threatened to pounce on to the loose ball.
The hosts finally drew level early in the second half. Wales defender Lockyer raced into the box unmarked to head in Alfie Doughty’s corner. Neither side were willing to settle. Luton needed to keep their wits about them, not least when the pacy Middlesbrough man Jones burst into the box only to see his effort beaten away at the near post. The hugely controversial moment came midway through the second half when Morris raced on to a long ball and appeared to be brought down by Steffen. Referee Graham Scott awarded the spot-kick, despite replays showing the Luton player fell without any contact by the goalkeeper. Morris converted the penalty, sending Steffen the wrong way, for his 20th league goal of the season.
Boro continued to push for a second goal, but were unable to breach the Luton defence despite late pressure. Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick told BBC Radio Tees:”It was never a penalty. It wasn’t even close. I can laugh it off as it doesn’t change the course of our season. We came here wanting a good performance and I thought we got that. We were fantastic at times – I really enjoyed watching us.” Going back to the penalty, I do wonder if some referees are so used to making a decision knowing they have that back-up in case it’s not right. But when it’s all on the line and you have to make it on your own I do wonder – and I’m not accusing anyone here – if it’s something worth looking at. It definitely changes things if you don’t have that insurance. At some stage that could have been a huge decision.”
I’m proud of how we played because we made changes. That’s credit to how the players train, how they look after themselves and how much they deserve to play. This is one of the hardest places in the league to come to. We will definitely take more from the performance and the way we played. Luton Town secured a controversial victory over Championship play-off rivals Middlesbrough at Kenilworth Road on Saturday, strengthening their place in third position in the table. The visitors had taken an early lead through Cameron Archer’s cool opener, but Luton hit back through Tom Lockyer’s header after half-time before Carlton Morris scored from the spot after appearing to fall with minimal contact from Boro keeper Zack Steffen while trying to round him.
The win was Luton’s first time winning five consecutive home games since December 2018 and keeps their slim hopes of automatic promotion alive for at least another 48 hours. However, realistically they will be preparing for the play-offs knowing that a Sheffield United victory against West Brom on Wednesday will see them join Burnley in the Premier League. With Boro likely to finish fourth, there is a chance that these two teams could meet again in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on 29 May.
Middlesbrough made five changes from Wednesday’s win against Hull including leaving top scorer Chuba Akpom on the bench. They had better of things early on and wasted a big chance in the 19th minute when Matt Crooks scooped his shot over after being released down the right flank by Isaiah Jones. Luton fashioned an opportunity of their own eight minutes later when Morris was picked out by Elijah Adebayo only for Jonny Howson to hook it away.
The hugely controversial moment came midway through the second half when Morris raced onto a long ball and appeared to be brought down by Steffen, but referee Graham Scott awarded a penalty despite replays showing there was no contact by the goalkeeper. Morris converted it for his 20th league goal of the season and Boro were unable to breach Luton’s defence despite late pressure. Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick expressed his disappointment with Scott’s decision but praised his team’s performance overall.