Premier League

Player ratings as Hatters near relegation

Player ratings as Hatters near relegation

FROM LONDON STADIUM – Luton Town are on the verge of an immediate return to the Championship after they lost 3-1 to West Ham United in David Moyes’ last home game in charge.

The Hatters came into the game knowing a defeat would leave them needing an extremely unlikely swing of goal difference to overhaul Nottingham Forest, who would have to lose their final two games against Chelsea and Burnley. Even then, Burnley could have overtaken Luton with victory at Tottenham Hotspur.

Things got off to a great start for Rob Edwards’ side, as Albert Sambi Lokonga headed home after just six minutes, but they were unable to stave off a strong West Ham fightback in the second half.

James Ward-Prowse levelled the scores for West Ham with a precise finish into the bottom corner, before Tomas Soucek smashed home with a left foot volley 11 minutes later. Substitute George Earthy, stretchered off on his debut against Fulham, put the gloss on the scoreline, turning home from close range after a superb run from Mohammed Kudus.

How the game unfolded

Luton started the game far better than last season’s Conference League winners, who were playing for the first time since Moyes’ departure at the end of the season was confirmed.

A lofted ball over the top just six minutes in found Elijah Adebayo in a chasm of space between Vladimir Coufal and Kurt Zouma, and although his scuffed effort on goal was blocked, he was able to lay the ball off to the advancing Alfie Doughty.

The left-back delighted floated a cross into the area at the first time of asking, where an advancing Sambi Lokonga ran into another London bus sized gap to steer a stooping header past the helpless Alphonse Areola.

West Ham responded somewhat, forcing errors from Ross Barkley and Gabriel Osho deep in Luton territory, but Kudus skewed an effort wide of Thomas Kaminski’s post and Ward-Prowse’s long wait for another goal from a free-kick continued.

Luton were pretty comfortable for the remainder of the half, defending well without ever really being put under too much pressure, but that quickly changed in the second half.

Jarrod Bowen scampered down the right as West Ham broke away at pace, and his deflected cross ricocheted off three pairs of legs, including Kaminski’s, before Ward-Prowse arrived on the scene to lash the ball into the bottom corner.

With the atmosphere suddenly lifted, West Ham had immediate chances to take the lead – first through Bowen and then through Michail Antonio and Emerson Palmieri. It wasn’t long…

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