Luton dig deep to see off League One Bolton in FA Cup

By Sports Desk January 16, 2024

Luton had to come from behind to see off League One Bolton at the second attempt as Rob Edwards’ side just about came through their FA Cup third round replay with a 2-1 win at the Toughsheet Community Stadium.

Having held their Premier League opponents goalless nine days ago, Bolton stunned the Hatters when Dion Charles put them ahead 11 minutes in.

But Tahith Chong swiftly equalised before Chiedozie Ogbene’s second-half goal set up a tie against the winners of Wednesday’s replay between Everton and Crystal Palace.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s silence in memory of Iain Purslow, the 71-year-old Bolton supporter who died after being taken ill during Saturday’s League One match against Cheltenham, which was abandoned midway through the first half.

The hosts then snatched an early lead as they hit Luton on the counter-attack.

Will Forrester’s pass forward found the run of Victor Adeboyejo, who skipped away from Teden Mengi before cutting the ball back for Charles, too easily getting goal-side of Reece Burke, to sweep the ball home.

But Luton needed only four minutes to equalise. Ross Barkley, taking his place in a strong Hatters XI which showed five changes from Friday’s 1-1 draw just up the road at Burnley, dispossessed Josh Dacres-Cogley just outside the Bolton box and Luton swiftly moved the ball left.

Jordan Clark played it through to Chong and the former Manchester United player tucked it through the legs of Forrester and into the far corner.

Luton remained on the front foot. Chong saw a shot deflected wide before Carlton Morris, Friday’s goalscorer, blazed wastefully over.

Four-time FA Cup winners Bolton, only two points from the top of League One with three games in hand, came into this replay unbeaten in six and looked confident any time they had a chance to attack.

Adeboyejo went for the audacious just before half-time, spotting Luton’s cup goalkeeper Tim Krul off his line and taking aim from the edge of the centre circle. Krul desperately back-pedalled, doing just enough to stop the ball under his crossbar before gathering at the second attempt.

Both sides went close in a frantic start to the second half. Paris Maghoma stung the palms of Krul before Luton went to the other end. Clark’s bouncing strike struck the post and both Chong and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu were denied by smart saves from Baxter before the danger was cleared.

Bolton responded immediately, and Barkley made a superb block to deny Charles from close range as he tried to turn in Adeboyejo’s cross.

It was Bolton’s best spell of the match but it came to an abrupt end in the 57th minute when Morris fired in a precise low cross from the left and Ogbene could hardly miss as he slammed home his first FA Cup goal.

Bolton thought they had levelled in the 74th minute when Barkley was caught in possession and Charles turned in a low cross from the right, but after a moment’s pause the offside flag went up and Luton safely saw the game out.

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