LUTON 0, UNITED 1 (Denton 23) (7.45pm kick-off, Kenilworth Road)
Luton team: Walton, O’Donnell, Mullins, Rea, Potts, Lee (Vassell 75), McGeehan, Smith, Gray (Cook 57), Hylton (Mpanzu 66), Marriott. Subs: King, Justin, Cuthbert, McQuoid.
United team: Silvestri, Coyle, Jansson (Cooper 74), Bamba, Denton, Murphy (Phillips 57), Grimes, Hernandez (Mowatt 67), Dallas, Roofe, Doukara. Subs: Green, Ayling, Sacko, Antonsson.
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Booked: Lee (Luton), Grimes, Coyle (United)
Att: 7,498 (1,510 United)
A superb first-half strike from debutant Tyler Denton sealed United’s progression to Round Three of the EFL Cup with a 1-0 victory away to Luton Town on Tuesday evening.
Denton’s curling 23rd-minute effort proved to be the difference as United once again avoided a cup upset at the hands of lower league opposition to secure a place in Wednesday evening’s draw.
Garry Monk made 11 changes for the Round Two tie at Kenilworth Road, including first United starts for Denton and recent loan signing Pontus Jansson in defence.
It was the League Two hosts who were first to threaten on a balmy night in Bedfordshire, Jake Gray heading over from Jonathan Smith’s deep cross, before Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez saw low efforts blocked in a crowded penalty area at the opposite end.
Olly Lee and Cameron McGeehan both sent well-hit strikes whistling over the recalled Marco Silvestri’s bar from range for the Hatters, but it was United who opened the scoring on 23 minutes as Denton announced himself to the travelling supporters in some style, curling an unstoppable effort beyond Christian Walton with the outside of his boot after some fine build-up play down the wing.
And United’s advantage could have been doubled within just six minutes as Kemar Roofe rattled the Luton bar on the turn from inside the area before Walton beat away Stuart Dallas’ rebound with a strong, two-handed save.
The half ended with decent chances for both sides, with Walton thwarting Souleymane Doukara after the striker had surged into the area, before Jack Marriot blazed over after attempting to round Silvestri.
Souleymane Doukara bent an effort wide of the far post after cutting inside on the edge of the area, but Luton soon started to assert some early second-half pressure and Silvestri was called into superb reflex saves to deny McGeehan twice in quick succession – first palming away the midfielder’s goal-bound free-kick before turning his curling effort behind with the slightest of fingertips.
Roofe saw low strikes held by Walton at the opposite end as United looked to catch their hosts on the break, before the Hatters spurned a golden opportunity to equalise as Marriot raced through, only to poke the ball beyond the post with Silvestri rushing off his line.
Luton continued to push forward but United remained among the chances as substitute Alex Mowatt saw his right-footed strike held by Walton before the Hatters’ goalkeeper continued to keep his side’s hopes alive in stoppage time with a close-range block to deny Roofe.