Luton finally back in action
Luton returned to action for the first time since 11 December to oust League Two side Harrogate Town 4-0 in the FA Cup third round at Kenilworth Road last weekend. The Hatters also welcomed club legend Mick Harford back to the dug-out for the first time after cancer treatment and produced an impressive display despite their long lay-off.
Elijah Adebayo’s low drive on the turn from Cameron Jerome‘s flick-on, gave Town the edge at the break. Jerome doubled the lead with a second-half tap-in, before Kal Naismith cutely dinked in a third. Luke Berry emphatically hammered home a late fourth to secure top honours for Nathan Jones‘ outfit, although the hosts did come under pressure throughout.
Speaking post-match, Jones said: “All I asked them to do was win the game, we’ve been a month without playing and it showed at times. We’ve given them a big week, and put more work into them than we would normally, so we’ve taken a gamble in a few things. We got away with it slightly, in terms of winning, keeping a clean sheet and scoring four goals.”
Three wins on the spin for Bournemouth
Championship league leaders Bournemouth also reached the FA Cup fourth round last weekend as they beat National League opposition in Yeovil Town, thanks to Emiliano Marcondes‘ hat-trick. The 3-1 triumph was the third straight success across all competitions for Scott Parker’s side, who appear to have refound their form after a recent wobble.
Marcondes gave the Cherries the lead with a cool finish and doubled his tally before the interval. The Glovers did halve the deficit when Joe Quigley pounced on Orjan Nyland’s error to slot home but with 20 minutes remaining, Marcondes wrapped up his hat-trick as he poked in from close range after Yeovil keeper Dillon Barnes failed to hold the ball.
Parker was full of praise for his team’s performance post-match having made 10 changes to his starting XI. He said, “I thought we were very professional. The first half was textbook in how I wanted us to look in the sense of nullifying their threat. The defensive line was spot on and we showed our quality with some of the goals we executed.”
Matches between Luton and Bournemouth this century have tended to be tight affairs. The Hatters have enjoyed a slight W5-D4-L4 supremacy over the Cherries, and have returned W2-D3-L1 when the duo have crossed swords at Kenilworth Road in that sequence, although Bournemouth have been beaten just once in the duos last seven match-ups.
Luton’s 2.8615/8 lack of Championship action over the last month has seen the Hatters trickle down in the bottom half of the table and could mean Town are a touch undercooked coming into this contest. Town have tabled only two league triumphs since late October (W2-D2-L4) and are winless against the current top-six (W0-D3-L3) this season.
Bournemouth 2.486/4 enjoyed a club-record unbeaten start to the campaign, avoiding defeat in their opening 15 fixtures. However, the Cherries have stuttered since, posting W3-D3-L4. Even so, Scott Parker’s posse have pocketed back-to-back Championship wins, own a rock-solid road record (W7-D4-L2), and have claimed W9-D2-L2 when taking on the bottom-half.
Luton managed only 41 goals last term but Town have already notched 31 league goals in 2021/22 with smart summer recruitment centred around finding fast, attacking players to improve the team’s final-third output bearing fruit. The hosts’ Over 2.5 Goals 1.855/6 record sits at 55% at Kenilworth Road and matches here have averaged 2.73 goals per-game.
In contrast, Bournemouth have silenced 12 of their 25 opponents under Scott Parker and after a few wobbles, the Cherries’ defensive resilience has returned in recent weeks following key players returning. The visitors have conceded just seven goals on the road with only 2/13 (15%) road trips paying out for Over 2.5 Goals backers this season.
With that in mind, the 1.814/5 on Bournemouth Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals is an appealing play. The Cherries are tuned up having played four fixtures over the past four weeks, compared to a Luton side that might struggle to find their rhythm and flow following their disrupted schedule over the same period.