Match Report: Luton Town's marathon run ends at last against Millwall

Luton Town 0 Millwall 3: Millwall make their League status tell in front of goal while gallant Hatters are left with happy memories and a sense of relief there was no repeat of crowd trouble

kenilworth road

It was fun while it lasted, this FA Cup run of Luton Town's. It stretched from mid-October, with an away win against Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Cambridge United until just about the last few minutes of yesterday's fifth-round tie.

Then, two Millwall substitutes conjured up a third goal between them, killing off any hope of a late revival. All that was left for the locals after a rare return to the big stage was to applaud their team from a pitch being invaded by police officers, and hope that peace would be maintained in the streets outside.

In 1985, at the time of the previous infamous Cup meeting here, Luton were two divisions ahead of their opponents. By yesterday, after all the misery that has befallen the Bedfordshire club, the gap was 67 places in Millwall's favour.

It took a long time to turn that sort of superiority into meaningful reality yesterday, but the Championship side scored at useful times and, crucially, were able to hold off the rally early in the second half that promised to bring the hopeful home side back into serious contention.

The major disappointment for Luton, a top-flight club 21 years ago, was to concede such a poor first goal little more than 10 minutes into the game. Both centre-halves were at fault in letting James Henry through to score.

Their manager, Paul Buckle, said afterwards: "We never gave ourselves a chance by conceding that goal. That's been our Achilles heel. That gave Millwall the perfect start. I thought Millwall were very professional but our players are frustrated because we weren't at our best and have gifted them goals. As defenders you are paid to clear your lines and if we'd done that, we'd have been okay."

Forewarned by how Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers had failed to see off the Hatters' challenge, as well as by their own current losing run in the League of four games, Millwall did their job to the professional satisfaction of their manager, Kenny Jackett.

"It was an excellent win for us," he said. "The first goal was always going to be important and James saw his opportunity and finished very well. If Luton had scored first it would have been very tough."

That key moment stemmed from a long punt forward by his goalkeeper, David Forde, which one defender, Ronnie Henry, misheaded and another, Janos Kovacs, failed to control, allowing the sharp-witted winger James Henry to finish smartly.

In contrast, when chances came Luton's way, the finish was not there, and they were punished accordingly. Just before the goal the excellent Forde had kept out Andre Gray at the near post and, soon after, Scott Rendell, whose goal had beaten Norwich in the previous round, headed down a free-kick and Forde saved well from Arnaud Mendy's resulting volley.

A peculiar second goal doubled the difficulty of the task. James Henry did well out on the right and crossed to the far post where Rob Hulse, on loan from Queens Park Rangers and now on his third London club this season, headed the ball into the air and found it falling nicely for him to lob into the far corner of the net.

Luton needed the next goal but it would still not come, even when Buckle boldly put four attackers on the pitch. Forde was out well to thwart the lively Gray, who then failed to latch on to the substitute Karleigh Osborne's pass.

By the finish Milwall were playing on the break and the third goal they had threatened came when Mark Tyler parried a shot by John Marquis, but could not prevent Dany N'Guessan following up.

With Jackett's side being nine points off the play-offs, it is arguable that Luton now have most to look forward to for the rest of the season. As often happens in this situation – Mansfield Town, who gave Liverpool such a good game in the third round of the Cup, have suffered too – Luton's League form has dipped, with only one point taken from the last three games against such apparently modest opposition as Forest Green, Barrow and Dartford.

Consequently they have work to do even to match their achievement in the three years since dropping out the Football League, when they have reached the Conference play-offs each time, only to lose one semi-final and two finals.

The solution offered by Luton's chairman, Nick Owen, yesterday was to increase promotion and relegation with the Football League to three teams each season, because "the Conference has become a bottleneck for clubs needing to progress". But League clubs would seem unlikely to agree.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil