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Spurs v Luton, 30.03.24

Many thanks to Declan Mulcahy for this report:-

Saturday 30 March 2024, 3:00pm
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur (0) 2 Luton Town (1) 1

Spurs scorers:-
Kabore, 51 (o.g)
Son 86

Luton scorer:-
Chong 3

Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1):
13 G Vicario; 23 Pedro Porro, 17 C Romero, 6 R Dragusin, 38 D Udogie; 29 P Sarr (18 G Lo Celso 68), 8 Y Bissouma (9 Richarlison 85); 21 D Kulusevski (22 B Johnson 45), 10 J Maddison (30 R Bentancur 68), 16 T Werner; 7 H-M Son (c) (5 P-E Hojbjerg 88)

Subs not used: 40 B Austin, 12 Emerson Royal, 33 B Davies, 37 M van de Ven

Booked: Hojbjerg (90+5 foul on Barkley), Lo Celso (90+6 kicked ball away prior to free kick)
(Captain's armband to Romero when Son was replaced)

Luton Town (4-3-3): Rob Edwards
24 T Kaminski; 12 I Kabore, 16 R Burke (27 D Hashioka 45), 15 T Mengi, 45 A Doughty (10 C Woodrow 83); 8 L Berry (18 J Clark 63), 6 R Barkley, 17 R Mpanzu; 30 A Townsend, 9 C Morris (c), 14 T Chong (32 F Onyedinma 74)

Subs not used: 1 J Shea (gk), 23 T Krul (gk), 38 J Johnson, 44 A Piesold, 43 Z Nelson

Booked: Barkley (31 foul on Maddison), Burke (36 foul on Maddison), Mpanzu (46 foul on Porro), Mengi (90 encroachment, blocked free kick)

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Attendance: 61,534

Referee:- Jarred Gillett
Assistants:- Darren Cann, Neil Davies
Fourth official:- James Linnington
VAR:- Michael Salisbury
Assistant VAR:- James Mainwaring

Son shines as Spurs prevail late in the game

Spurs v Luton, 30.03.24

The question before the match was which Spurs team would turn up today? The team which produced an outstanding win at Villa Park three weeks ago or the one which succumbed to a shambolic defeat at Craven Cottage a fortnight ago. The answer was somewhere in between those two results.

Spurs had all of their main players available. Luton had a lengthy injury list and the substitutes' bench contained two goalkeepers and some inexperienced players. Nonetheless they took the lead after three minutes and Spurs only secured the points with four minutes remaining. They did have two efforts which were millimetres from crossing the goal line. However it shouldn't have been this hard to beat a team which dropped into the bottom three after they lost and Nottingham Forest secured a point today.

Spurs made one change from the poor result against Fulham with Timo Werner replacing Brennan Johnson. Micky van de Ven was fit and returned to the bench however he wasn't used during the match.

Rob Edwards made two changes from the Luton team which drew with Nottingham Forest two weeks ago with Luke Berry and Andros Townsend replacing Jordan Clark and the injured Chiedozie Ogbene. In addition to Ogbene Luton were also missing Bell, Nakamba, Adebayo, Sambi Lokonga, Potts, Andersen, Osho, Brown and the club captain Tom Lockyer as a result of various injuries or in Lockyer's case heart issues.

The international break had been good for both goalkeepers. Thomas Kaminski made his Belgian debut coming on for the last seven minutes of the game against the Republic of Ireland. Guglielmo Vicario too made his international debut for Italy playing the full 90 minutes against Ecuador and preserving a clean sheet in a 2-0 win.

Spurs launched an attack shortly after the kick-off. Kulusevski passed to Son on the edge of the Luton box. However he was dispossessed by the former Spurs player Townsend who immediately set off on a counter-attack down the right wing. He fended off an ineffective challenge from Bissouma before reaching the Spurs box and putting in a cross to Barclay. He in turn set up Chong on the left of the goal who unleashed a diagonal shot which went through Porro's legs and scored via the right post.

This was a start that Spurs definitely didn't need after the Fulham result. It was the earliest home goal that Spurs had conceded since Tomas Rosicky scored the only goal of a north London derby for Arsenal in March 2014.

Ed's note:- Luton fans chanted, "Conference League Champions. You'll never sing that!"

Possession-wise the rest of the first half belonged to Spurs but they had difficulty creating clear-cut chances.

Werner crossed from the right but Sarr headed wide. Werner then set up Kulusevski but Kaminski went to ground to deny him, injuring himself in the process.

In the nineteenth minute Spurs almost equalised. Kulusevski set up Son who drew Kaminski wide to the right of the goal. His effort hit the right post ran parallel to the goal-line and rebounded off the left post. It was cleared but Werner had another attempt which was blocked by Kaboré and a third effort by Sarr was denied by Mengi. It was starting to look like it wasn't going to be Spurs day.

Barkley and Burke were both booked for fouls on Maddison. Spurs continued to dominate but failed to create chances. For the sixth consecutive Premier League match they failed to score in the first half and went 1-0 down for the fourth time in those six games.

Kulusevski was replaced by Johnson at the break which wasn't surprising as he had been ineffective. It would turn out to be a very good substitution.

Luton had the first opportunity when Vicario saved an effort by Barkley.

However then the tide began to turn influenced by Johnson.

He crossed the ball from the right and Kaboré under pressure from Werner turned the ball into his own net to bring Spurs level. Porro tried the same manoeuvre a couple of minutes later but this time Kabore wasn't caught out. Porro set up Son but Kaminski made a diving save. Another Porro effort deflected goalward off Chong. Kaminski kept the ball out but collided with a post in doing so.

After 68 minutes Bentancur and Lo Celso replaced Maddison and Sarr. Maddison went straight down the tunnel on being replaced. If he was injured hopefully it is not serious and he will be available for the West Ham match on Tuesday.

Johnson set up Porro but his shot was high and wide. Kaminski touched another Johnson effort but it remained goal-bound. Doughty reached it and cleared it off the line. A graphic afterwards showed that all but about a millimetre of the ball had crossed the line and Spurs were deprived of a goal by a small fraction.

With four minutes remaining Spurs finally went ahead. Son in his own half passed to Werner on the left. He made a run down the left before crossing into the box where the ball fell to Johnson. He set up Son who had run half the length of the pitch after creating the move. Son scored with a shot that took a deflection off Hashioka on its way in. It was Son's 160th competitive goal for Spurs moving him ahead of Cliff Jones and becoming Spurs fifth highest scorer behind Harry Kane, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith and Martin Chivers.

There were nine minutes added on at the end. Richarlison who had come on as a substitute had the ball in the Luton box but Mengi tackled him. Luton had an opportunity but the move broke down when Lo Celso cleared the ball. Soon after, the final whistle sounded. Spurs won but it hadn't been easy.

The result took them up to fourth place but Aston Villa beat Wolves later in the day to reclaim that position though Spurs have a game in hand.

Spurs v Luton,  30.03.24

Spurs have nine games remaining but achieving fourth place won't be easy. Six of the remaining nine games represent challenges. They still have to play the top three teams Arsenal and Manchester City at home and Liverpool away. The away games against Newcastle, Chelsea and West Ham can't be taken for granted either as the last two of those team seem to be more motivated when playing Spurs than they are against other teams. A win against West Ham on Tuesday would be a huge boost.

Ange Postecoglou commented to Sky Sports: "I thought the performance was good. I think we made the game pretty difficult for ourselves. We certainly had enough chances and we controlled the game pretty much from start to finish, but obviously when the scoreline is as it is, disappointing goal we conceded - that was the highly disappointing point of the day and I just thought it was preventable".

Luton manager Rob Edwards said: "I feel sick right now. Tottenham are a brilliant team, a fantastic manager and really good players but to lose so late from our own attacking set-piece is difficult to take right now."

Tottenham have now earned 22 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, only Liverpool (23) have more, while only in 2010-11 (24) and 2012-13 (23) have they accumulated more such points in a single campaign in the competition.

Luton are just the third side in Premier League history to lose three successive games in which they've led at half-time after Aston Villa in May 2021 and Sunderland in April 2003 (run of four).

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