Luton Town 2 – 1 AFC Bournemouth

Carlton Morris’ dramatic late winner boosted Luton’s Premier League survival hopes as they came from behind to beat Bournemouth.

Marcus Tavernier gave Bournemouth the lead early in the second half with a crisp shot from just outside the corner of the penalty area.

But Jordan Clark restored parity with a clinical 73rd-minute strike from inside the box.

The Hatters ended a run of 10 games without a league win in dramatic fashion when Morris guided the ball home from Cauley Woodrow’s cross in the 90th minute.

Luton remain in the drop zone, but only behind 17th-placed Nottingham Forest, who are away to Tottenham on Sunday, on goal difference.

“It was a huge victory,” Luton boss Rob Edwards told BBC Match of the Day. “The one thing in football you cannot guarantee is a win.

“You can guarantee effort and be organised to carry out a gameplan, but it’s been hard for us this season as results have shown.

“However, the character we showed, we found the result today when it was important to do so.”

Third-bottom Luton had spent most of the first half chasing shadows as Bournemouth’s players weaved a neat tapestry of passes.

After Tavernier had struck the woodwork for the Cherries with an exquisite curling free-kick, Justin Kluivert’s low effort shaved a coat of paint off the base of the post.

Luton failed to register an attempt on target before the break, but manufactured three opportunities in the space of a few minutes after the restart.

The best of them saw visiting goalkeeper Neto dive full length to his right to keep out a rasping drive from the lively Morris, but it was 12th-placed Bournemouth who struck first in the 52nd minute.

After some neat interplay down the right flank, Tavernier opened up his body to Kluivert’s lay-off and struck a low swerving shot into the corner of the net.

Morris hit the outside of the post at the other end with a low effort and Alfie Doughty side-footed the ball at Neto from a tight angle, before their pressure paid off.

Cherries defender Lloyd Kelly lost a 50-50 with Luke Berry on the edge of the box and Clark pounced on the loose ball and hooked in a finish from near the penalty spot to net his first Premier League goal.

Luton showed the greater desire to win the game in a tense finale and their diligence was rewarded when Morris outmuscled lllia Zabarnyi to meet Woodrow’s fine delivery into the box.

Vital victory gives spirited Hatters hope

Luton visit defending champions Manchester City next, but of the teams battling relegation they arguably have the most desirable run in.

Edwards’ side – depleted by injuries with 10 players absent for this encounter – have shown admirable esprit des corps this season.

So, inevitably, this victory against a stylish Bournemouth side was underpinned by that indefatigable spirit instigated by the Hatters boss.

It was epitomised by captain Morris. Without a goal in five league appearances, he never let his head drop and worked tirelessly to sniff out chances.

The forward kept his composure as the clocked ticked towards the end and steered home a priceless ninth goal of the campaign.

Edwards was ebullient at the final whistle, clenching his fists and roaring to the home fans who chanted “the Town are staying up”.

A result such as this has the possibility to generate the kind of momentum which could now prove crucial in their remaining six games.

Midfielder Clark, whose goal was his first in the Premier League, told BBC Match of the Day: “A massive win. We knew after the two defeats to Tottenham and Arsenal this was a key game.

“Obviously every game is important but we knew this was the start of our mini-season.”

Bournemouth’s European hopes dented

For Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola, surprisingly linked with Barcelona job earlier this week, this was a reminder of the ruthless nature of English football.

The Cherries were in control, but unable to convert their first-half dominance into goals against an opposition who refused to lie down.

“We should have been more ruthless in the first half because the wind today was key,” said Iraola.

“It was in our favour in the first half, but we didn’t damage them. In these type of games when you lose the territorial advantage you are going to struggle.”

Bournemouth’s highest finish in the five seasons they have spent in the Premier League came in 2016-17 when they came ninth.

Six points from their final seven matches would set a new top-flight club record, eclipsing the total they achieved in that season.

However, this defeat was a setback to their hopes of playing in European competition for the first time and they are now seven points behind seventh-placed West Ham.

If Iraola’s side miss out on a debut continental campaign by a narrow margin they will come to rue this result.


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