EPL

Andros Townsend scores winner for Luton against former club Newcastle

By Sports Desk December 23, 2023

Andros Townsend’s first-half goal saw Luton beat Newcastle 1-0 at Kenilworth Road to boost their Premier League survival hopes.

Eddie Howe’s visitors were made to look ordinary by a side tipped widely for the drop.

The winner came during Newcastle’s only spell of sustained first-half pressure as Luton’s star pair of Townsend and Ross Barkley combined at a corner.

The gap to safety now stands at just two points after a third victory on the Hatters’ top-flight return.

Luton had laid out the kit of captain Tom Lockyer in their dressing room, seven days after he suffered a cardiac arrest that forced the abandonment of their game against Bournemouth. The 29-year-old’s name rang around the ground throughout.

The hosts dominated the opening 15 minutes, though the game produced few chances. Jacob Brown stood up Jamaal Lascelles on the left and drilled into the arms of Martin Dubravka, who covered his near post well, while at the other end Callum Wilson nodded wide under pressure after Lewis Miley’s shot was blocked.

Bruno Guimaraes whacked an effort from 18 yards that cracked off the ribs of Gabriel Osho.

Luton failed to clear the resulting corner and Anthony Gordon’s ball back in was met by the head of Wilson, who planted Newcastle’s best chance of the half too near to Thomas Kaminski.

Newcastle were growing into the game until Luton’s opener after 25 minutes against the run of play.

Barkley was brave in getting his head to the ball six yards out as Alfie Doughty’s corner was whipped in, flicking it on to the back post where Townsend had slipped marker Kieran Trippier and nodded past Dubravka. Townsend held aloft the shirt of absent captain Lockyer in tribute.

Luton had led here against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City and taken just a point from those three games, but against a Newcastle side stretched by injuries, belief swept around Kenilworth Road that a big name would finally tumble.

Just after the half-hour mark it was almost two. Barkley, fresh from his hand in the goal, received the ball in space 30 yards from goal and tried his luck.

His effort flew over the goalkeeper before hammering back off the underside of the bar as home fans decried their luck.

Howe had seen enough. Eight minutes from the end of the half he gambled on two changes, Miley and Lascelles departing for Alexander Isak and Sven Botman.

It yielded little respite for this side. Within minutes Doughty had wrestled past Trippier into the box, Newcastle failed to clear as the ball broke loose, and Townsend was left free to test Dubravka with a firm effort.

The second half began in the same vein, Newcastle increasingly unsure of themselves in countering Luton’s threat. Adebayo was strong on the edge of the box to keep the ball and slide in Brown who rattled the bar with a rasping drive as the visitors clung on.

Newcastle finally rallied a response, and Gordon might have done better when he poked into the side netting from Trippier’s inviting cross. Isak thought he had levelled, bending the ball into the net but denied by the offside flag having moved early from Miguel Almiron’s pass.

Thereafter Newcastle bombarded Luton’s defence, which would not yield as the hosts put bodies on the line in a manner to make their captain proud.

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