Luton played out an eventful contest against Burnley but familiar problems emerged for the Hatters once again. The first half, the Town came out strong and had several chances, where Adebayo probably should have scored at least once. Second half was a bit more even, but the Hatters still had a hold on the game until an unfortunate penalty was given after a Gabe Osho handball. The crowd was furious but even Rob Edwards has admitted it was a penalty, as Osho clearly controls the ball with his hand
Despite the clear penalty, there was still huge aggravation towards the referee, quite rightly so, with many chanting '1 nil to the referee.' I will try my best to be objective here, the referee was correct on the penalty and the Lockyer sending off was probably his own fault, however the game was paused too often, he did not issue as much as a warning to Muric for his time-wasting, and the Adebayo booking was puzzling. Still, enough complaining about the referee.
Unfortunately it is 2 points from a possible 9 in the last three games for Rob Edwards' side, however, the performances against Preston and Burnley have been very good, and most definitely a sign of what is to come in the final third of the season. Only penalties have been scored against us and the midfield has had control for the majority of those 3 games, We haven't conceded a goal from open play (in the league) since those three conceded against West Brom. The results haven't been as we would have liked recently but there are many positives to take and Luton should still be confident of being able to make the playoffs for a second season in a row.
A lack of discipline...again
It is 3 red cards in 15 games since Rob Edwards took over, which shows this team clearly has an issue with discipline and staying composed in the tough moments. None have been straight reds, however the players must know better when they are already on a booking, and it is likely Rob Edwards will address this issue to his squad.
It is poor from Lockyer, and as good as he is, he should know better than to keep complaining after being booked. Many top players such as Bruno Fernandes get bookings for dissent however they know not to press the issue further. He will now miss an important away game against Birmingham, which means Luton will miss his immense aerial presence and leadership capabilities. Fortunately, he is only missing one game.
A strong and controlling performance against a future Premier League team
A positive to take away from this game is that Burnley were unable to effectively control the game as much as they normally have done this season. Despite the Clarets having more possession, Luton had an equal amount of shots, but led Burnley in shots on target and corners, and much of Burnley's chances came at the end when the Hatters were pushing for an equaliser with 10 men.
For most of the game Luton defended well, and Burnley only really looked threatening when the Town were down to 10 men. Bell and Doughty both played well in the defence, and Pelly won man of the match (although he didn't look happy about it!) for another solid midfield performance. A draw was a fairer result but as mentioned below these situations happen when chances aren't taken, and ultimately the handball is what cost us. Still, Rob Edwards can be proud of the team's efforts as they gave it a real go.
Not taking our chances
This issue is complex as while we need to convert more chances, another issue is against Burnley we didn't create enough of them. In the first half Elijah Adebayo had a decent half chance, which he at least got on target, but a few moments later he missed a good opportunity created by an amazing run by Pelly. It was harder to score than it looked but a striker of his quality should still be converting it.
However, full blame cannot be placed on Elijah and it is encouraging that he is getting into these good positions. Only he looked somewhat threatening against Burnley, as Morris struggled to have much impact (perhaps he is playing through injury?) Woodrow came on in the 57th minute but also wasn't able to do much. Perhaps Muskwe or Joe Taylor could be given some minutes in the future, as they can bring something different than Woodrow.
Not creating enough
Unlike the Preston game, Luton did not have a huge amount of chances, as while we were able to dominate large periods of the game, the Burnley defence didn't allow many goalscoring opportunities, and overall the Hatters did not create enough. It is to be expected that Burnley will give up less chances than Preston, however it is a factor in why Luton failed to score today. In addition to Preston, where 5 'big chances' were created, against Coventry there were 4, but there was only 1 against Burnley.
Not creating enough isn't a major issue at the moment, but the return of Henri Lansbury into the team would be helpful when the team needs to unlock defences sitting deep. Berry could also be useful to bring on due to his goalscoring ability in the final third, and whenever Luke Freeman is back he should also help with the creation of these opportunities.
Overall, Luton should not be too disappointed, as the team is still playing well, but there are certain issues that need to be addressed if we want to turn these performances into wins.
By Samuel Roy