Luton Town scraped by Coventry City in the EFL Championship playoff final on Saturday to book a spot in next season’s Premier League. The thrilling match had to go to penalties after the two sides could not be separated. Luton has now managed to rise from non-league to the pinnacle of English soccer in just nine years. Pelly Ruddock Mpnazu was there for each promotion.
A flying start for the Hatters
The Hatters began the game on the front foot as they had the ball into the net inside five minutes. However, the goal was eventually, and correctly, ruled out for offside. After being in control for much of the opening 20 minutes, the Hatters finally went ahead. And this time it would count.
The goal came in the 23rd minute from a long ball by a Luton defender deep into their own area. Elijah Adebayo was able to get on the end of the long pass and race down the left flank. The forward then dribbled past a Coventry defender and found Jordan Clark at the edge of the box. Clark took a clever touch toward Coventry’s goal and struck a hard shot beyond the helpless Ben Wilson in goal. It was only the midfielder’s third goal of the entire campaign.
Luton also had the goal in the back of the net in the 41st minute, but the assistant referee ruled it out for handball. Coventry was essentially dominated for much of the opening period. In fact, their first shot of the match didn’t come until the 43rd minute. However, the ball sailed over the crossbar from close range.
Coventry claw back to tie game in second half
While they may have been anemic in the opening half, Coventry came flying out of the blocks in the second. The Sky Blues leveled the scoreline in the 66th minute thanks to a goal from Gustavo Hamer. Eerily similar to Luton’s goal, Viktor Gyökeres rushed down the left flank of the field on a counter-attack and found a teammate near the edge of the box. Hamer then hit a first-time shot low and into the bottom corner of the net.
The goal would prove to be particularly crucial as the game would eventually go to extra time. As dominating as Luton was in the first half, they were the complete opposite in the latter period. In fact, the Hatters only had two total shots in the entire second half.
Luton Town punches into Premier League with penalties
Luton looked certain to grab the match-winner late in extra time through a goal by Joe Taylor. However, the substitute was ruled to have controlled the ball with his arm before making his move toward goal. It was the third disallowed goal for the Hatters on the day. The match would eventually go to a penalty shootout.
After the first five penalty takers on both sides converted their shots, the match needed extra spot kicks. Luton’s Dan Potts stepped up and scored his team’s sixth shot of the phase. This meant that Coventry had to score to keep the match going. Nevertheless, Fankaty Dabo sent his shot high and wide of American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.
The miss would give Luton a spot in next season’s Premier League.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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