Luton Town 0 Leeds Utd 1
An interesting game but not much relevance I doubt to the rest of our season… unless we win the EFL Cup! It was a surprise to see Garry Monk make 11 changes from the side that started up at Hillsborough when he’d spent time telling us how important winning this cup tie was in terms of maintaining a bit of momentum ahead of the Forest game. Surely, most of us reasoned, that would mean putting out a strong side. It was in effect a Second XI though with few of those on show at Luton likely to be starting next Saturday when the Forest Championship game comes round. Hence it was ‘interesting’ to see how we fared against a high flying League Two outfit compared with our arguably stronger side that struggled to beat a League One side at Fleetwood.
In the event it was another tough struggle for us and, on another day, we could easily have lost it. That we didn’t is, strangely, due to the fine form showed by the oft criticised Marco Silvestri who pulled off a string of good saves when the defence in front of him was proving to be as fragile as Leeds’ defences of old. Silvestri remains a conundrum for the club I’m sure, shot-stopper extraordinaire he is but communicator he is not and we saw that in one misunderstanding during the first half yesterday; mostly though he was superb. The middle of defence was far less superb, with Sol Bamba again showing he is not a great reader of the game ahead of him as countless balls got through him in the air and on the floor while his new partner, the giant Pontus Jansson looked pretty solid. He is so big I’m surprised the scheduled EasyJet flights out of nearby Luton Airport were not interrupted!
Elsewhere there were few players who looked likely to gain First XI status in the near future. Tyler Denton’s fine left foot shot was a highlight and he looked solid but on the other side Lewie Coyle also showed himself, like Bamba to be susceptible to that long through ball. In the middle no one stood out although Luke Murphy worked hard. Matt Grimes continues to look the weakest of Garry Monk’s acquisitions and was mostly anonymous last night.
Up front the form of Kemar Roofe is not quite hitting the heights I expected from the former Oxford star and he is struggling to come to terms with his new level. It would have done him a power of good had he smashed in the last minute sitter than Doukara set up for him but he could only hit the keeper with a poorly directed effort. The Douk himself continues to look like a useful stand in for Chris Wood but no more than that. Every now and again in a game he excels but then does little for the next ten or fifteen minutes.
Overall therefore the evening probably showed Monk that he is right in his current First XI pick while the likes of Hernandez, Roofe and Mowatt (who appeared as a late sub) may find themselves on the fringes rather than as regular starters in the Championship. With all his Hillsborough starters getting a rest though, and with the win at Luton achieved, Monk has to be said to have called it spot on. The key now is to see the big boys, now fully rested, push on and give us a strong performance at the City ground on Saturday.
Luton T Leeds Utd
Possession 49% 51%
Shots 15 17
On Target 4 7
Corners 6 6
Fouls 9 6