Debut goal for Dobra but Town are out of the Carabao Cup
Armando Dobra marked his debut with a goal but Town’s stay in the Carabao Cup was ended at the first round stage.
Championship side Luton were two up inside the first 20 minutes through Lloyd Jones and a penalty from Elliot Lee and could have wrapped the tie up before the break.
Andrew Shinnie did add a third from a free-kick 10 minutes into the second-half before teenager Dobra, a product of the Club’s Academy, breathed life into Town’s hopes with a deflected strike in the closing stages.
Dobra, Bailey Clements and Will Norris were all handed their debuts as Paul Lambert made 10 changes to the side that drew with Sunderland at the weekend, only skipper Luke Chambers retaining his place. Luton went one better and named a complete change of 11, with former Town loanee James Bree included.
Norris had a comfortable save from Izzy Brown as Luton looked for an early advantage, the Town ‘keeper pressed much further by Harry Cornick’s strike after the Hatters countered at pace.
Luton carried a threat and on 10 minutes they were ahead, Jones left alone to head in from Brown’s excellent delivery. Town responded, Gwion Edwards crossed from the right but Jones was in the right place at the other end to clear from Jordan Roberts.
A superb pass from deep from Chambers found Alan Judge in space and his cross eventually fell for Dobra, who smashed a shot at James Shea. Andre Dozzell sent a free-kick over the bar before Luton were awarded a penalty on 18 minutes when Josh Emmanuel brought down Lee in the box. The Hatter made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Roberts headed over from Judge’s cross as Blues looked to get a foothold in the game, Edwards almost in at the far post from another Judge delivery, then Judge continuing his attack on the home goal with a shot deflected over.
Luton were causing Town problems down the right flank and Cornick’s cross was smothered behind as Lee threatened a third, Cornick again the provider before Shinnie shot wide, while at the other end Judge carried the main threat for Blues, his cross cleared from close range, a shot then deflected into Shea’s hands.
Brown set up Lee with a surging run, Norris coming to Town’s rescue, Shinnie’s left footer going just wide then Kazenga LuaLua cut in from the right but dragged his shot past the near post as the first-half came to an end with Luton in control.
Martin Cranie and Josh Neufville replaced Luke Bolton and LuaLua at the break for Graeme Jones’ side, Lee having an early chance to add a third but his curler was wide.
The impressive Brown almost created that third with a powerful run before releasing Lee but the Hatters didn’t have to wait long, Shinnie planting a free-kick into the bottom corner from 20 yards on 54 minutes.
Norris saved from Lee after more excellent work from Brown, the Chelsea loanee seeing a shot blocked after Cornick had set him up before Town made a first change on the hour with Danny Rowe on for Edwards.
Shea deflected Dozzell’s strike over the bar, Roberts’ header cleared off the line with Shea beaten before Brown made way for Callum McManaman.
Flynn Downes was given a warm ovation from the home fans after his loan spell at Kenilworth Road two years ago when he replaced Emyr Huws, while fellow substitute McManaman was denied by Norris after slick play.
It was Town who struck next though, Dobra’s shot taking a deflection to beat Shea on 74 minutes to give Blues a lifeline.
Bree was close to restoring the three goal advantage, his header just wide before Kayden Jackson replaced Judge in Town’s final change. Blues kept pressing for a second goal that would have set up a grandstand finish, Roberts denied by Jones’ block six yards out but Luton saw the game out to book their place in the second round.
Luton: Shea, Berry, Lee, Shinnie, Cornick, Bolton (Cranie 46), Galloway, Brown (McManaman 66), LuaLua (Neufville 46), Bree, Jones. Subs not used: Stech, Jervis, Moncur, Panter.
Town: Norris, Emmanuel, Chambers, Wilson, Clements, Edwards (Rowe 60), Dozzell, Huws (Downes 66), Dobra, Judge (Jackson 76), Roberts. Subs not used: Holy, Skuse, Nolan, Kenlock. Booked: Judge, Roberts, Dobra, Emmanuel.