Luton Town 1-0 Derby County: Hatters move into the Championship playoff places after sixth win in seven matches but Rams are left eight points adrift of safety
- Danny Hylton’s goal was decisive as Luton overcame Derby at Kenilworth Road
- The Hatters have moved into the Championship top six after a strong run of form
- At the bottom of the table, Wayne Rooney’s Rams are eight points adrift of safety
- Luton will host world champions Chelsea in the FA Cup on Wednesday evening
Luton Town threw their hat firmly into the play-off race to heap further misery on relegation-scrapping Derby County.
Danny Hylton scored the only goal of the game as Luton moved into the Championship top six and dared to dream of a fairytale promotion push.
‘This is not a drill nor a scrap, this is where Luton belong,’ wrote the club’s matchday programme editor ahead of this game. And why not?
33-year-old Danny Hylton came off the bench to score a second half winning goal for Luton
LUTON (3-4-1-2): Steer 7; Burke 6.5, Lockyer 6.5, Naismith 7; Bree 7.5, Campbell 6, Osho 7, Bell 6; Lansbury 6 (Hylton 51, 7); Cornick 6 (Jerome 59, 6), Adebayo 7 (Onyedinma 78).
Subs not used: Shea, Snodgrass, Gomes, Kioso.
Booked: Burke, Jerome.
Manager: Nathan Jones 7.5
DERBY (3-4-2-1): Allsop 7; Davies 6, Cashin 7, Buchanan 6; Byrne 6, Bielik 6, Bird 6.5 (Ebosele 66, 6), Forsyth 5 (Plange 74, 6); Knight 5, Morrison 6.5; Kazim-Richards 5.
Subs not used: Stearman, Sibley, Roos, Ebiowei, Thompson.
Manager: Wayne Rooney 5
Referee: Andy Woolmer 6
Tipped for relegation before the season, this result made it six wins in their last seven, with European champions Chelsea next up at Kenilworth Road in the FA Cup on Wednesday.
Nathan Jones has done an expert job on a next-to-nothing budget but the club is warming and well run, and the team plays an efficient brand of football.
They were the better team here and had a couple of half-chances in the opening stages, with Elijah Adebayo twice coming close. The towering striker gave Derby’s back three a tough day.
Derby had few chances but perhaps came the closest to scoring in the first hour. Ravel Morrison, once at Manchester United, was out to haunt his old pal Wayne Rooney and he danced through Luton early on but couldn’t find the right pass.
In the second half, Max Bird forced a top-class save from Luton keeper Jed Steer, on loan from Aston Villa. The midfielder unleashed a dipping effort from the edge of the box but Steer tipped it on to the crossbar.
From there, Jones’ side were well on top and fans were buoyed by news that a goal would take them into the top six, given both Sheffield United and Middlesbrough were losing.
They’d put Derby under pressure without forcing keeper Ryan Allsop into anything overly strenuous but then Hylton came off the bench to score a decisive goal.
The 33-year-old, who joined Luton in League Two, took a touch to steady himself and passed the ball into the far corner from the edge of the box.
James Bree should have made it 2-0 in the 83rd minute. The wing back had caused problems all day and went one-versus-one with Allsop but his shot was weak and straight at the keeper.
It was Hylton’s second goal in as many games after finding the net against Stoke in midweek
Wayne Rooney’s Derby have been left eight points adrift of safety following defeat at Luton
Allsop again came out on top from the resulting corner, denying Cameron Jerome’s header from close range.
But as Luton were energised by Boro’s loss, the fact Barnsley were winning again put a further nail into Derby’s safety bid. The Tykes leapfrogged Derby into 22nd and the Rams are now eight points adrift.
Rooney’s side showed little in attack after the goal and Luton comfortably saw out the win. Next up, Chelsea. They could get used to hosting big boys at Kenilworth Road.
Nathan Jones has done a stellar job at Kenilworth Road, with the Hatters now in the top six
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