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Match Reports

Luton Town 2 Oxford United 3

1 March 2017

Luton Town 2 Oxford United 3

Oxford United will be at Wembley again this season after a dramatic 3-2 win away at Luton Town booked their place in the 2017 final of the Checkatrade Trophy. Goals from Phil Edwards and Marvin Johnson seemed to have given United a place in the final but goals from Isaac Vassell and Danny Hylton pulled the League 2 promotion chasing Hatters back into it. Until Johnson's unstoppable effort with five minutes to go sent United through to a second successive final appearance. 

It was a tremendous game. On a difficult surface and with the Hatters crowd in full voice, United needed Simon Eastwood to make a magnificent save in just the fourth minute to somehow get just enough on to a Jordan Cook effort to touch it on to the bar when a goal seemed a certainty. 

The response was immediate. Ryan Ledson fired in a shot that was defected wide for a corner. When the ball came in Liam Sercombe was on the edge of the box to nod the ball forward and try a shot that skidded across the penalty box and found Edwards, seated, who reacted quickly to stab the ball home and give United a priceless early lead. 

It also made for an even more exciting cup game. Luton fired efforts wide of both posts, Lundstram and Maguire had efforts saved at the other end before Maguire limped off after 27 minutes to be replaced by Joe Rothwell. 

Luton were fighting for everything but the U’s were making the better chances. Kane Hemmings forced home keeper Matt Macey into an excellent save after 28 minutes as Marvin Johnson carved Luton open down the left and cut the ball back for the striker whose low strike was powerfully hit but just too close to the keeper. Edwards then forced the keeper into another terrific stop as he powered a header down. 

Johnson was causing havoc, linking with Hemmings and attacking the Hatters back line with pace and purpose and after he forced yet another corner just before the break Chey Dunkley almost doubled the lead with a flick at goal that forced the overworked Macey into yet another top-class save. 

Luton threw the kitchen sink at United in the second half, Eastwood making an excellent save from Jordan Cook and Johnson getting back to clear off the line as the Hatters gambled everything, but they were leaving themselves open to the counter and Hemmings might have earned a penalty on 66 as he barrelled past two trailing defenders but was brought crashing down just as he tried to get his shot away. 

On 69 minutes that ability to counter at speed paid off as the U's looked to have booked their place at Wembley. Ledson, as for so much of the game, was at the heart of it, roaring forward and spreading the ball wide for Edwards. His ball inside allowed Ledson to roll in Johnson whose shot looped off a defender, over Macey and into the back of the net to make it 2-0 and seemingly see United through. 

Luton had other ideas and refused to accept their fate; they had nothing to lose, especially when Vassell gave them real hope with a 72nd-minute strike that finally beat the excellent Eastwood. They continued to play an extremely dangerous game though: Lundstram and Sercombe forced Macey into two more great saves and Dunkley dunked a header over. However on 82 they were on level terms when they forced a corner and Hylton, who else, flicked it home to spark wild scenes of celebration. 

They didn't last long. Short corner, Johnson in space and on his left foot 20 yards out. Macey could only admire his power and accuracy as the ball flew past him to send the U's to Wembley to face Coventry City on April 2nd.

Another terrific performance, a fine cup tie and United march to the arch once more. Brilliant! 

Ticket details will be arranged as soon as possible and we hope to be able to announce full details on FRIDAY. 

Att: 6,901 
Away: 742 

Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Darrell Fisher and Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA
 See highlights and reaction in Yellow Player HD




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