Luton’s self-inflicted blow in Brentford hammering suggests time is up

Luton Town's Gabriel Osho (left) stands dejected with team mates after his side conceded a second goal scored by Brentford's Yoane Wissa
Luton capitulated when a win at home would have taken them out of the relegation zone - PA/John Walton

Luton Town’s capitulation to Brentford in front of a disbelieving Kenilworth Road offered a potentially fatal self-inflicted blow to their hopes of Premier League survival.

With relegation rivals Everton and Nottingham Forest meeting on Sunday, this was Luton’s opportunity to move out of the Premier League bottom three.

Instead, just as they had at home to bottom club Sheffield United in February, they stumbled inexplicably when the moment should have been theirs.

Brentford were quicker and sharper in every aspect and produced a performance that not only highlighted the gulf in technical ability between the sides, but also virtually assured Thomas Frank’s side of their Premier League status for another season.

What made their victory all the more remarkable was that only one team, the aforementioned Sheffield United, had previously won at Kenilworth Road this season by more than a one-goal margin.

A delighted Frank said: “Not one team has managed to do that to Luton here this season. That is huge.

“We showed Luton massive respect by being super-focused today. Our front three were fantastic at running in behind. But we had to earn the right to attack by stopping their crosses and defending our box.”

Ethan Pinnock had already headed over from an early free-kick and Keane Lewis-Potter shot wastefully wide by the time the irrepressible Bryan Mbeumo led another lightning quick Brentford break after 19 minutes which ended with Lewis-Potter seeing his header clawed away by Luton keeper Thomas Kaminski.

The reprieve was short-lived. Brentford’s swifter fleetness of thought and foot eventually brought its reward when Mbeumo saw  Yoane Wissa streaking beyond him and slid a delightful pass into the striker’s path with the outside of his left foot.

A behind the net view as Brentford's Yoane Wissa scores their first goal past Luton Town's Thomas Kamins
Yoane Wissa fires Brentford ahead - Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Wissa’s rasping, rising shot offered a glimpse of what life might be like next season for Brentford without Ivan Toney, absent through injury.

By contrast, Tahith Chong lashed at, rather than controlled, a shot at the other end when he had a clear view of goal.

The Brentford threat was coming from all angles with right-back Kristoffer Ajer heavily involved in two further chances before Mbeumo displayed incredible vision and technique to curl a left-foot shot against the bar as a pass was rolled to him.

If that was desperately unlucky, the visitors secured the second goal their utter dominance deserved in injury time.

Inevitably, Mbeumo was again involved, squaring for Wissa to turn in his second after a flaky waft of the foot from Reece Burke.

Burke was taken off at half-time, but he was not the only culprit in orange. Indeed, only Kaminski and Ross Barkley could hold their heads high. It was a pity for Barkley that one of his team-mates shared his level of vision.

Ethan Pinnock of Brentford scores the third goal for his team during the Premier League match at Luton Town
Ethan Pinnock heads Brentford 3-0 up - Getty Images/Mark Leech

Just after the hour, two goals in as many minutes offered the scoreline a more realistic look. A Sergio Reguilon corner was headed home by the commanding Pinnock before Mbeumo produced another memorable moment.

The striker fashioned a delightful half-volleyed cross to the far post where Lewis-Potter had only to stoop and nod it over the line.

Luton’s humiliation appeared complete after 86 minutes. Mbeumo surged forward and fed the tireless Vitaly Janelt, who rolled the ball across for substitute Kevin Schade to thump gleefully into an empty net.

Remarkably, the vast majority of Luton supporters still remained and sang. They drew the thinnest of rewards in injury-time when Luke Berry seized upon looseness in the Brentford defence to win the ball, round Mark Flekken and roll the ball home.

Luton fans still cheer team off

The final whistle brought not boos and jeers, but a rousing reception from the home fans as they applauded their team off the pitch even after witnessing such an embarrassing spectacle.

As humbling and damaging as the defeat was, it was an extraordinary display of unity to which Luton manager Rob Edwards offered his hand by way of apology as he walked around the Kenilworth Road pitch.

Edwards said: “I have got to say thank to the supporters who stuck with us. I know we have a lot of credit in the bank with what we have done, but I was apologising to them because today was not good enough.

“It was a really difficult day. As good as Brentford were, we were equally bad. We lacked an urgency and intensity in our defensive work that we hadn’t really lacked all season. And that’s the whole team.”

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