Peterborough United stormed to the top of League One by beating Luton Town 3-1 at the ABAX Stadium today (August 18).
Posh scored three times in a dominant first-half display and concentrated on all out defence after the break. Jason Cummings scored twice, one from the penalty spot, and man-of-the-match Siriki Dembele also netted before Luton pulled a goal back 13 minutes from time through Danny Hylton.
Only Posh and Portsmouth have 100% winning records in League One now and Steve Evans’ men have the better goal difference.
Posh named an unchanged side and a 4-4-2 formation for the third successive League One match, while Luton fielded wing-backs in a 3-5-2 system. Familiarity trumped innovation for an opening 45 minutes which included some interesting officiating.
Both teams probed and pushed in the opening quarter before Posh caught Luton on the break in the 18th minute after Rhys Bennett looked like he’d got away with a clear push on James Collins.
Bennett fed Matt Godden who immediately switched the ball inside to strike partner Cummings. Cummings shrugged off an attempted shirt tug before going down under challenge from Hatters ‘keeper Marek Stech.
Veteran referee Graham Salisbury hesitated before pointing to the spot. Cummings sent Stech the wrong way from 12 yards and within three minutes it was 2-0 thanks to a cracking display of skill and strength from Siriki Dembele.
Joe Ward won the ball in midfield and transferred it quickly to Dembele who went down under a challenge on the edge of the penalty area, but picked himself up and fired past the helpless Stech.
Luton were rattled enough to make a substitution after 30 minutes and to change shape. Initially it didn’t work as Posh broke again for 3-0 seven minutes before the break with Bennett hoofing a Hatters corner clear, Dembele putting his marker on the floor before feeding Cummings who finished expertly.
Luton thought they were back in the game four minutes later when Colin Daniel took ball, and Elliott Lee, down in the penalty area. Salisbury gave a penalty, but on the advice of his assistant changed his decision, probably correctly, to a corner.
Luton made a second substitution at the break, but Posh threatened first as Stech saved well from a 20-yard Matt Godden strike.
But, predictably in the cicrcumstances, Luton started to enjoy lots of possession, although breaking Posh down was more of a problem.
Substitute Glen Rea blazed their first chance wide after the ball fell kindly at his feet just past the hour mark.
Lee then sent a free header straight at Chapman from 12 yards before Luton claimed the goal their patient passing deserved.
Hylton scored it after Jack Stacey had been first to reach a far post cross.
Luton continued to press and Hylton fired wide from a good position 10 minutes from time.
Substitute Ivan Toney helped Posh hold the ball up better and he was involved in the best home move of the half. Joe Ward was the man who should have shot, but instead he tried to square to Toney whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Toney saw his header from the corner well saved.
As five minutes added time was shown on the board, Luton had another chance to claw a goal back, but Ryan Tafazolli made a terrific block to thwart Sonny Bradley.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Colin Daniel, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara (sub Louis Reed, 77 mins), Joe Ward, Siriki Dembele (sub George Cooper, 83 mins), Matt Godden (sub Ivan Toney, 73 mins), Jason Cummings.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Josh Yorwerth, Callum Cooke, Marcus Maddison.
Luton: Marek Steck, Jack Stacey, Matthew Pearson (sub Andrew Shinnie, 46 mins), Alan Sheehan, Sonny Bradley, Dan Potts, Pelly Ruddick Mpanzu, Alan McCormack (sub Glen Rea, 30 mins), Elliot Lee, Danny Hylton, James Collins (sub Jorge Grant, 73 mins).
Unused substitutes: James Justin, Harry Cornick, Jake Jervis, James Shea.
Goals: Posh - Cummings (18, pen & 38 mins), Dembele (20 mins).
Luton - Stacey (77 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Tafazolli (foul), O’Hara (foul).
Luton - Potts (foul).
Referee: Graham Salisbury 5
Attendance: 8,016 (2,209 Luton).
Alan Swann was at the game for the Peterborough Telegraph so check back for match reaction