Luton 2 Sunderland 0 (agg 3-2): Hatters step closer to reaching Premier League for first time after incredible comeback
NINE years ago Luton were in the National League — but they are now just one game away from the Premier League.
The Hatters blew apart Sunderland on a memorable night at Kenilworth Road which saw fans pour on to the pitch to celebrate at the end.
Tom Lockyer celebrates scoring his Luton’s second goalRex
Trailing 2-1 from their semi first leg, the Hatters turned this tie on its head with first-half headers by Gabe Osho and Tom Lockyer, both from corners.
This was incredibly the first time Luton had won a play-off game . . . at their eighth attempt.
The Black Cats struggled every time Luton won a corner or swung a ball into their box — and froze in the Hatters’ intimidating cauldron.
It is incredible to think the next competitive game this old ground will host could be in the top flight.
This performance epitomised everything Luton have been about — showing a hunger, desire and workrate that so many teams fail to match.
And they chewed up their opponents with two almost identical goals that will have had Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray tearing his hair out.
First they wiped out Sunderland’s slender first-leg advantage within 10 minutes.
Jordan Clark’s corner was fired in. Alex Pritchard got out-jumped by Tom Lockyer and the ball fell to Osho, who fired home with keeper Anthony Patterson all over the shop.
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Boss Rob Edwards gave a fist pump before turning to the crowd and giving the fans a waving gesture to pump up the volume even louder.
Yet the Hatters had scored first in all three of their previous games against Sunderland but had failed to win.
And Sunderland were appealing for a penalty from a corner of their own.
Amad Diallo’s cross fell deep to Pierre Ekwah — but as he sent the ball across goal it struck Amari’i Bell on the arm. It would have been harsh had it been given.
Luton almost grabbed a second when Alfie Doughty found space down the left. His cross was fumbled by Patterson and Elijah Adebayo and then Carlton Morris saw their efforts cleared off the line by Luke O’Nien.
The Hatters were causing chaos in the Sunderland backline.
Morris saw a header saved by Patterson and then the ball eventually was worked left to Adebayor and his cross was nodded just wide by Lockyer.
The hosts continued to pour forward. Adebayor cut the ball back to Morris, who fired wide.
ReutersGabriel Osho opening the scoring[/caption]
GettyGabriel Osho celebrates opening the score[/caption]
And the Hatters were 2-0 up and ahead in the tie for the first time three minutes before the break.
Doughty’s inswinging corner was headed clear but he picked it up to send in another peach of a delivery for Lockyer to nod home from eight yard.
From the kick-off, Luton missed a sitter after a howler from Patterson.
With the ball rolled back to his keeper, he somehow contrived to give the ball away to the Luton ace, who had time to take a couple of touches and pick his spot. But he hit it first-time horribly wide.
It was a huge let-off for the Black Cats.
Sunderland finally registered a shot on target when Clark cut in but his drilled shot was comfortably kept out by Ethan Horvath.
Luton won two corners in quick succession. First Doughty’s cross was met by Clark’s header and it was cleared off the line and away for a corner — and then Osho nodded over.
Adebayor had a great chance to add a third when he was put through but just as he was about to pull the trigger Aji Alese managed to get in a last-ditch tackle.
Patrick Roberts tried to get things going with a solo run down the other end but he ended up shooting wastefully wide from the edge of the box.
Cody Drameh had a great chance to add a late third as he broke down the right after a late Sunderland attack — but he rolled the ball wide with keeper Patterson scampering back.
Luton are going to Wembley — and whoever gets through tonight between Boro and Coventry, they will have their work cut out against this lot.
Tom Lockyer doubling Luton’s leadRex
PAThe Hatters blew apart Sunderland on a memorable night at Kenilworth Road[/caption]