Hartlepool 1 Luton Town 4: Pools crash to another defeat after defensive howlers

Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore
Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore

Hartlepool United crashed to back-to-back home defeats after going down 4-1 to Luton Town.

The Hatters took the lead against the run of play, with Pools dominating the first-half.

Joanthan Smith gave John Still’s Luton a 17th minute lead before Billy Paynter eventually levelled just before half-time.

But it was all downhill from there, with sub Jack Marriott bagging a quickfire brace to take the game away from the hosts before Ollie Lee fired in a 20-yard volley late on.

It was a miserable second-half display with a worrying combination of poor finishing and awful defending to blame.

Pools, sporting a new-look midfield after the Bristol Rovers defeat, were at Luton from the off.

Pacy Connor Smith burst down the right flank to win an early free-kick, with boss Ronnie Moore keen to get more pace into his team.

Their first sight on goal came after less than three minutes, Paynter flicking the ball on to Rakish Bingham on the edge of the area.

He had time and space but flashed wide of the left-hand post, when he should have at least hit the target.

Moments late Bingham again had a site on goal but his low effort was gathered comfortably by Mark Tyler.

Rhys Oates, deployed down the left wing, then went close after cutting inside past three Hatters defenders but his shot was wide of the post.

Pools had been the better side but it was Luton that took the lead.

Adam Bartlett parried Luke Guttridge’s shot and the ball fell to SMITH who fired in from close range.

Hatters dangerman Craig Mackail-Smith went off with a leg injury after 28 minutes and 90 seconds later Pools should have levelled.

Bingham again in on goal but Tyler somehow managed to palm his effort over the bar.

Pools dug in and continued to carve out chances, Scott Harrison wasting a free-kick high over the bar and Oates shooting over.

They finally got their reward in the 44th minute, Oates crossing to PAYNTER at the back post who nodded the ball in from close range.

Nothing more than the hosts deserved after a dominant display.

Half-Time: Hartlepool 1 Luton 1

The game had turned on its head within 12 minutes of the re-start.

Luton, playing with more purpose, took the lead again after 53 minutes through sub MARRIOTT.

He took advantage of a long ball forward and easily beat Harrison for pace before slotting the ball underneath Bartlett.

Within four minutes, it was 3-1.

Poor defending from Pools allowed Guttridge time and space to cross for MARRIOTT to stab the ball home from close range.

Tyler was again in the right place to deny Bingham 67 minutes in - his fourth clear effort on goal of the day.

The visitors were defending deep and in numbers as Pools struggled to break them down.

Woods flashed a shot well wide as Moore turned to Scott Fenwick from the subs bench, replacing Paynter after 72 minutes.

Bingham again missed a glorious chance in the 77th minute, clean through he again failed to beat Tyler who made the save.

Sub Nicky Featherstone blasted a good opening wide in the final stages before LEE unleashed a beauty in the 91st minute to wrap up the win.

It wasn’t Bingham’s day and it wasn’t Pools’ either.

Full-Time: Hartlepool 1 Luton 4

Pools (4-4-2): Bartlett, Halliday, Harrison, Boyce, Carroll, Oates, Magnay, Woods (Featherstone, 84), Smith, Paynter (Fenwick, 72), Bingham.

Subs Not Used: Carson, Jones, Bates, Walker, Oyenuga.

Booked: None

Goals: Paynter (44)

Luton (4-4-2): Tyler, Cuthbert, Griffiths, McNulty, Wilkinson, Smith, Lee, Guttridge, McQuoid (Doyle, 80) McGeehan, Mackail-Smith (Marriott, 28).

Subs Not Used: Justham, Potts, Lawless, Hall, Green.

Booked: None

Goals: Smith (17), Marriott (53, 57), Lee (91)

Referee: Richard Clark (Northumberland)

Attendance: 3,876 (406 Luton)