Luton Town 2 Crawley Town 1: Reds beaten by two late goals

Luton player Jordan Cook is stretchered off against Crawley Town
Luton player Jordan Cook is stretchered off against Crawley Town

Crawley Town let slip a lead to lose to Luton thanks to two late goals by Danny Hylton

James Collins scored the opening goal of the game with a powerful strike to net his 17th goal of the season.

However the Hatters responded with two goals by Hylton in the space of six minutes which proved enough to edge Reds to a 2-1.

Head coach Dermot Drummy made two changes to the side which drew 0-0 at Blackpool on Tuesday.

Enzio Boldewijn returned in place of Andre Blackman who was on the bench. Having completed his two-game suspension, Lewis Young was a last-minute replacement for Joe McNerney who got injured in the warm-up.

Josh Lelan, Kaby Djalo and Conor Henderson all kept their places in the side.

Luton boss Nathan Jones made just one change from the side who hammered Yeovil Town in the Checkatrade Trophy, as captain Scott Cuthbert replaced the still suspended Johnny Mullins.

That meant Arsenal loanee Matt Macey retained his place in between the posts for his league debut for the club, with Stuart Moore on the bench.

Hatters were denied an opener on seven minutes after a truly wonderful save from visiting stopper Glenn Morris, who somehow got down to repel Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu's instinctive volley from O'Donnell's pinpoint cross, Jordan Cook putting the rebound into the side-netting.

Crawley looked to attack as well, a refreshing change from sides who normally rock up at Town and stick men behind the ball, Jimmy Smith just failing to turn a dangerous cross beyond Macey and then firing wide from a quick throw-in.

Hatters had another opportunity when O'Donnell's cross was miscontrolled by Hylton in the clear, and Vassell, searching to make it five games in a row on the scoresheet, didn't gamble as he could have been left with a tap-in.

The visitors enjoyed a decent spell of possession, Jordan Roberts' searching cross clipping the top of the bar and then dangerman Smith not too far away with a snapshot on 22 minutes.

Vassell was close to continuing his prolific vein of form on 27 minutes, after Hylton's sublime dummy from Sheehan's through ball, but his first touch took him wide allowing Morris to narrow the angle.

A lengthy stoppage then ensued on 34 minutes, when Cook was felled by an aerial challenge from Conor Henderson and after some extensive treatment, was stretchered off in a neck brace.

That saw Ollie Palmer on for his home debut upfront, with Hylton dropping back to the tip of the diamond, although during the eight minutes of stoppage time, Crawley weren't too far away from an opener, Jimmy Smith nodding just past the far post.

In the second period, and with results starting to fall for Town, they made matters harder for themselves, falling behind on the hour mark as Dean Cox's chip outfoxed Sheehan to release Smith.

Macey came out to save well at his feet, but the Red Devils' attacker showed good composure to tee up Collins who lashed home.

Vassell was then taken off for Luke Gambin, which allowed Hylton to return to his favoured striking berth alongside Palmer, the latter almost equalising in spectacular fashion, arching a thunderous volley that was palmed away by Morris.

However, Town, who were much more direct than they have been at any stage this term with Palmer upfront, were level on 70 minutes with a strike that will never win goal of the month, Sheehan's free-kick punched into the air by Morris, Hylton stabbing home from close range.

Now on level terms, Luton wasted no time completing the turnaround, as the excellent Mpanzu set off on a mazy run to the byline and dinked over a wonderful cross for Hylton to volley in his 17th of an increasingly impressive season just six minutes later.

To their credit, Crawley came back once more in the final stages, almost nicking a point through Roberts' drive from distance, tipped behind by Macey, and sub Rhys Murphy, who dragged off target after Town gave the ball away cheaply.

The hosts clung on though to climb to fourth in the table.

REDS: Morris, Lelan, Connolly, Young, McNerney, Roberts, Djalo (Murphy 77), Henderson (Payne 82), Boldewijn (Bawling 82), Smith (capt), Cox, Collins

Unused subs: Mersin, Blackman, Bawling, Clifford

LUTON: Macey, O'Donnell, Cuthbert, Sheehan, Senior, Rea, Mpanzu, Jonathan Smith, Cook (Palmer 42), Hylton (Marriott 90), Vassell (Gambin 67)

Subs: Moore, Gray, D'Ath, Palmer, Juston

REFEREE: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire)

ATTENDANCE: 7,316 (225 away)