Jacob Steinberg was at Kenilworth Road tonight. Here’s his report! Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night.
Rob Edwards speaks to Sky. “Close game … can’t get away from the disappointment at the goals we have conceded … I can’t keep saying the same things week in, week out … we have to make sure we eradicate that … but the lads gave everything … it was a very tight game … when it is like that, you want to try to come away with something … we created big chances … we have to be able to take those … we can brush up and learn … we can get back to basics … that was our first experience of Premier League football at Kenilworth Road … there’s nothing to fear … I’m glad we’ve experienced that … I’m not pleased with the result … I’m desperate for the players to get something, I’m desperate to give the crowd some points to cheer about … the supporters were incredible … I’ve seen three decent performances in spells, but tonight I saw a more complete one.”
David Moyes talks to Sky Sports. “It was really good … I’m really pleased … they didn’t disappoint me in anything they done … Luton kept us under pressure and didn’t disappoint us or their supporters because they did a lot of good things … I’m beginning to say ‘my goodness, maybe we can step on and do much better’ … the players are playing really well … I’m sure the win in Europe gave us positive thoughts … I’ve got to praise the new boys who have added something … it’s a really good club and more importantly a great dressing room it’s a great team spirit amongst them.”
Jarrod Bowen – who is the first player to score in each of West Ham’s first three away games in a top-flight season since Vic Watson did it in 1930 – also has a word with Sky. “I didn’t score many away from home last year! I saw [the stat] on my [Instagram] explore page, and thought, ‘What’s this about me?!’ So I seen it, and managed to do it tonight, so I’m obviously very happy.” He adds that he’s going to celebrate by taking his twins to the zoo tomorrow.
Kurt Zouma speaks to Sky Sports. “It’s a great feeling … we knew they were going to put pressure on us … we had to stay calm … I’m glad I [scored the second goal] and did it for the team … they made it tough for us … we had a very solid match … no games are easy in the Premier League … we are happy with the three points … before Bournemouth away, the manager came to me and said I was going to be captain for a few games [broad smile and giggle] and I didn’t lose yet! … so I’m very happy … but the most important thing is that I try to lead the team as best I can … we take it easy, we have started very well but it’s a long and tough season … we are very happy.”
FULL TIME: Luton Town 1-2 West Ham United
West Ham go top of the Premier League! Luton … well, it’s early days.
90 min +6: On Sky, Jamie Carragher names Kurt Zouma as his player of the match.
90 min +5: VAR had a look at a penalty shout for Luton there. In clearing that corner, the ball had pinged off the top of Ward-Prowse’s arm. But not in a manner to get the officials excited. But what does? Who knows nowadays.
90 min +4: Yes they can! Mpanzu dribbles hard down the right and wins a corner … but the set piece is cleared by Kudus. West Ham all of a sudden hanging on!
90 min +3: That’s got the home fans going at last. Can Luton carve out just one more opportunity?
GOAL! Luton Town 1-2 West Ham United (Andersen 90+2)
A long diagonal ball swung towards Morris, just inside the box on the right. Morris heads across the face of goal. Andersen steers a header into the left-hand side of the net, and this isn’t over quite yet!
90 min +1: Paqueta, who has put on a passing masterclass tonight, leaves the pitch so Kudus can make his debut.
90 min: There will be five added minutes.
89 min: “We’re gonna win the League,” trill the fans in the Oak Road end.
87 min: Nakamba is booked for blocking off Paqueta, who was in the process of flicking the ball over his head and running past.
86 min: Mpanzu dribbles into the West Ham box from the left. Alvarez comes sliding in to take the ball off his toe and win a goal kick as well. For a second, the home fans think the ref has pointed at the spot, but that dream doesn’t last too long.
GOAL! Luton Town 0-2 West Ham United (Zouma 85)
West Ham go up the other end and win a corner down the right. Ward-Prowse takes. Zouma rises highest and plants a strong header into the right-hand side of the net. Game over!
83 min: Andersen miscontrols in the Trent-Alexander-Arnold-at-Newcastle style and is fortunate that Ings can’t control the loose ball. Otherwise he’d be clear. Luton counter and the ball drops to Morris, eight yards out. Morris shoots low only for the ball to be deflected over the bar. It should be a corner, but a goal kick’s awarded, and …
82 min: Emerson cynically clips an in-flight Chong, and that’s the first yellow card of the game.
80 min: West Ham swap Antonio for Ings.
78 min: Doughty hurt himself while delivering that cross, and so he limps off to be replaced by Ogbene.
76 min: Doughty heads a lost cause down the left touchline. Chong doesn’t give it up, racing after it at warp speed and keeping the ball in. He eventually finds Doughty who gets a cross away. Areola deals with it, but that’s a superb display of moxie from Chong, who has been Luton’s best player this evening, a force of nature from the get-go.
75 min: The xG right now … Luton Town 1.16-0.85 West Ham United.
73 min: Brown’s first act is to win a corner down the left. Doughty takes. Areola swallows it up.
72 min: A triple change for Luton as Brown, Mpanzu and Kabore come on for Giles, Barkley and Adebayo. West Ham meanwhile replace Benrahma with Fornals.
70 min: Antonio drops deep and rolls a defence-splitter down the inside-left channel. Bowen rounds Kaminski but can’t get past Burke, who intercepts and clears. Then the offside flag pops up to spare Bowen’s blushes.
69 min: West Ham ping it around, making Luton do all the chasing. The away fans are in good voice. The home faithful not so much.
68 min: Antonio holds the ball up strongly before rolling a pass wide right for Bowen, whose low cross is sent into an empty box. Antonio’s work deserved better. “Good to see West Ham prospering,” writes Duncan Edwards. “I wish my beloved (since 1966) Manchester United had a forward as intense as Antonio and is it me or does Bowen have the look of the new Mark Noble about him?”
67 min: Morris chases after a long speculative ball down the middle. He nearly picks the pocket of Aguerd, but the West Ham defender keeps his composure and deals with the situation, such as it is. It’s thin gruel for Luton right now.
65 min: Adebayo, Chong and Giles combine briskly down the left. For a second they threaten to open West Ham up, but the final pass is lacking. All that’s won is a throw, which is eventually squandered.
63 min: Benrahma dribbles hard down the left and wins West Ham a corner. Ward-Prowse curls it in. Andersen clears. But West Ham are soon coming straight back at Luton, Benrahma shooting from a tight angle on the left. Easy for Kaminski, who handles well.
61 min: … justice is served when Burke heads harmlessly over the bar.
60 min: Doughty storms infield from the right, then down the middle, and rolls a pass wide left for Giles, who wins a corner off Alvarez. Barkley takes … poorly. But despite the ball clanking off one of his team-mates and out for a goal kick, Luton are awarded another corner. From which …
59 min: The ball’s pinging around at speed, neither team able to get their foot on it and play. All a bit messy.
57 min: Nakamba loops a cross in from the left. Aguerd hesitates at the far stick. He’s lucky that Adebayo gets his legs in a tangle, six yards out. The ball rolls apologetically wide of the right-hand post and out for a goal kick. Luton will wonder how they’re not level.
56 min: Kaminski launches a long free kick towards Morris on the edge of the West Ham box. Zouma climbs all over the Luton striker but the referee waves play on, much to the home fans’ irritation.
54 min: Doughty has a dig from distance. Aguerd deflects over for a corner, from which nothing occurs. West Ham counter through Ward-Prowse down the right. Ward-Prowse crosses low, towards the in-rushing Benrahma. Barkley’s mere presence puts Benrahma off and his shot is blocked and cleared. Luton are suddenly hanging on a bit here.
52 min: VAR has a quick look, but Antonio was just off. No goal.
51 min: … Paqueta crosses from the left. Antonio takes up possession on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. He takes one touch then cushions into the path of Emerson, who drives low and hard and into the net! Emerson races off in celebration, only for the flag to go up for offside.
50 min: Paqueta dinks a cute pass down the inside-right channel for Bowen, whose bustle into the box earns a corner. Ward-Prowse takes. Zouma piles in at speed, with the intention of powering home a header from six yards, but Adebayo flicks away just in time. However …
48 min: Nakamba catches Paqueta as the pair high-kick towards a loose ball. Paqueta goes down with a scream, but the referee awards a free kick and nothing else. West Ham aren’t happy but Nakamba was only a nanosecond late and the contact accidental.
46 min: The half begins with a game of head tennis on the edge of the Luton box. The flag eventually goes up for offside.
West Ham get the second half underway. No changes.
Half-time entertainment. Let’s face it, you’ve got one eye on the closing transfer window, haven’t you? Go on, fill your boots.
HALF TIME: Luton Town 0-1 West Ham United
No Kenilworth Road fairytale unfolding for the Hatters as of yet. As things stand, West Ham will be top of the Premier League tonight, with Luton at the bottom. Look!
45 min +2: Benrahma dribbles down the left and wins West Ham a corner. Ward-Prowse’s delivery is cleared by Morris.
45 min +1: Barkley sends the free kick into the West Ham box. Antonio allows the ball to bounce twice before heading it clear. A slow-motion oddity.
45 min: Adebayo attempts to spin Zouma down the inside-right channel and is skittled for his trouble. It’ll be a free kick. Before it can be taken, the board goes up to announce two additional minutes.
43 min: Chong works his way down the left and forces a corner. Giles hoicks it into the mixer. Morris rises for a header but doesn’t connect. The ball drops to Chong, near the left-hand post. Chong reacts, but can only thigh the ball wide left. For a second, Kenilworth Road expected him to bundle home and the net to bulge. But no.
41 min: Doughty drops a shoulder as he makes his way down the right at pace. But he can’t quite get past Zouma. Luton come again, though Giles down the other flank. Giles reaches the byline and finds Morris at the near post. Morris attempts a flicked header towards the top right. He beats Areola but also the crossbar.
39 min: Luton nearly respond immediately, Morris pinging a pass down the inside-left channel for his strike partner Adebayo, who leans back and lofts over the bar from just inside the box.
GOAL! Luton Town 0-1 West Ham United (Bowen 37)
Paqueta, 30 yards out down the inside-left channel, looks up and spots Bowen free on the right-hand corner of the six-yard box. He curls a perfect cross onto Bowen’s head. Bowen can’t miss … although he tries his best, heading straight at Kaminski. But there’s too much juice on the header, and the ball pings off the keeper’s chest and into the bottom right.
36 min: Bowen rides a couple of weak tackles down the left and cuts back for Paqueta, whose low drive is blocked by the brave trio of Andersen, Chong and Burke. The ball breaks to Alvarez, who blazes wildly over. No matter, though, because West Ham come again and …
35 min: West Ham pass and probe patiently, albeit to very little effect.
33 min: Coufal rakes a lovely pass down the right wing to release Bowen into acres of space. Bowen reaches the byline and cuts back into the box, but there’s nobody in white to take advantage. The offside flag eventually goes up anyway.
31 min: Morris, Chong and Barkley triangulate their way down the right. Luton want a free kick when Morris is blocked, 25 yards out, but the referee waves play on with Chong in space out wide. The move breaks down, and a couple of Luton players gesticulate in the general direction of the referee. Easy now.
29 min: Benrahma and Emerson combine cutely down the left to win a corner. Ward-Prowse sends it into the six-yard box. Morris heads clear, but only to Benrahma, who flays a shot wide left from the edge fo the area.
27 min: Luton are getting plenty of joy with long passes down the right flank. Adebayo chases the latest one, forcing Zouma to head out for a throw. Nothing comes of the resulting long fling into the box, but you can be sure Luton will be trying this particular gambit again sooner rather than later.
26 min: Aguerd, quarterbacking from deep, launches a long diagonal towards Bowen, just to the right of the D. Bowen is afforded far too much time. He chests down and rips a shot wide right of the goal. Kaminski was out of position there; had Bowen hit the target, as you’d expect, Luton would have been in a spot of bother.
24 min: Giles curls high and long. Andersen rises highest, six yards out, only to head weakly wide. On first viewing, that’s a big miss. On second, Antonio was causing the Luton defender enough bother to put him off his header. That’s great work from the West Ham striker.
23 min: A long ball down the right. Doughty’s presence causes Emerson some distress, and the West Ham defender bundles out for another corner. Doughty swings it into the mixer. With Areola again flapping, Zouma is forced to eyebrow out for another corner, this time out left.
21 min: Doughty looks for Barkley on the edge of the box. Barkley doesn’t commit to challenging for the loose ball and Benrahma tears off on the counter. The move breaks down. This is getting a little scrappy.
20 min: … so having said that, Adebayo immediately busies himself down the right and wins a corner. Luton load the box. Doughty to take.
19 min: Morris dribbles down the left and reaches the byline before cutting back for Giles, who crosses towards nobody in particular. West Ham clear. Luton have gone a bit quiet.
17 min: Paqueta finds Emerson on the under-lap down the left. Emerson rides an Andersen tackle and lays off for Bowen, who shoots when off balance and wins a corner. Nothing comes of the resulting set piece, but all of a sudden West Ham looked dangerous for the first time this evening.
15 min: Barkley picks up possession just inside the West Ham box, his back to goal. He spins to his left, making enough space to swivel and whip a low diagonal shot wide right. A decent-enough effort created from very little.
14 min: Chong shoots. Blocked. Chong sends Giles into space down the left. Giles whips a cross in. Areola flaps at the ball, and is very fortunate that it doesn’t land near the nearby Adebayo. Emerson hacks clear.
13 min: Benrahma flicks a header past Burke down the left and chases after it himself. He crosses long towards the in-rushing Bowen, but Giles makes the necessary clearing header. The ball is worked out left to Benrahma again, who attempts a shot from a tight angle but gets it all wrong.
11 min: Coufal throws long into the Luton box from the right. An authoritative header clear by Andersen. West Ham haven’t achieved much in Luton’s final third as of yet.
9 min: West Ham take it down a notch again with some defensive possession. Meanwhile Stelios Jackson would like to make a bid for our corrections and clarifications gig: “Just so you know, Tomáš Souček isn’t suspended, rather the club are adhering to PL concussion protocols, after last week’s unfortunate, yet accidental coming together of our plucky Czech’s noggin and a pair of Bart Varbruggen’s fist-filled gloves!”
7 min: A free kick for Luton out on the right. Barkley sends it swinging into the mixer. West Ham deal with it easily enough, but clear it upfield to nobody in particular. Rob Edwards will be pleased with his team’s perky start.
6 min: A long pass down the left for Benrahma to chase. He nearly gets there, too, only for Doughty to step across and usher the ball out of play calmly. The home fans enjoyed that challenge.
5 min: Giles crosses from the left. Adebayo cushions a header down to nobody in particular. West Ham lash clear. Both sets of fans giving it a-few-pints-in-on-Friday-night plenty.
4 min: West Ham calm things down as their defenders stroke the ball hither and yon.
2 min: Burke sends a long speculative pass down the right. Adebayo and Morris buzz around and win a couple of throws. Doughty flings it in. West Ham can’t clear. Chong curls a cross in from the left and it drops to Barkley, who sends a bobbling effort miles wide left. Nevertheless, that’s a bright start by the hosts.
Luton get the game underway. Appropriately, the gloaming above Kenilworth Road is the brightest orange.
The teams are out … and so begins Luton’s fourth chapter as a top-flight team. Between 1955 and 1960 they sported white shirts. In 1974-75, they wore orange with a white sash. Between 1982 and 1992 they were back in predominantly white tops. And now they’re in one of their orange phases again. So what are West Ham wearing tonight? Why, white of course. A rare old racket as the Hatters and the Hammers take to the field of play. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes!
The aforementioned last top-flight match at Kenilworth Road, then. Jason Rodrigues from our Research & Information team writes …
The Guardian’s Russell Thomas was at Kenilworth Road for Luton’s last top-flight home fixture before their relegation in 1992.
Goals by Brian Stein and Mark Pembridge, in front of 11,100, settled the match, Luton winning 2-0, as Aston Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich made his debut.
The win gave Luton manager David Pleat hope that his team could once again avoid relegation from the old First Division and he said: “You can look at it two ways. People will say, on the law of averages, Luton can’t do it again. I try to be optimistic...”
Alas, there was no victory jig by Pleat at Notts County in their final game, like he did when Luton beat Manchester City 1-0 at Maine Road to avoid the drop in 1983 — a 2-1 defeat at Meadow Lane saw his side relegated.
David Moyes talks to Sky. “It’s never easy coming up against a newly promoted team for the first time at home … understandably we think it’ll be a difficult game, but hopefully we can still overcome it … Kudus is fit and ready to play, he played last week for Ajax, so hopefully we can get an opportunity to get him out tonight … he’s looking good … we go into the match with a lot of positivity … they are a fit strong team and we need to match that.”
Rob Edwards speaks to Sky Sports. “This is it … this is what we’ve been waiting for … this is what everyone has been working so hard for, for such a long time … we’ve got to enjoy it … we’ve got to try to enjoy this moment … we know the size of our challenge this year, we know it’s going to be very difficult, so this is where we’ve got to try to win … this is it … we’ve got to try to use all this [gesticulates all around Kenilworth Road] and make it bring out the best in us … people say play the game not the occasion, but so long as we keep 11 players on the pitch, let’s use that energy … we’ll try to use that to our advantage.”
It’s Kenilworth Road, so here are the by-now-obligatory shots of the famous entrance to the away end.
Luton Town make two changes to the XI that started the 3-0 defeat at Chelsea this time last week. Alfie Doughty and Mads Andersen come in form Issa Kaboré, who drops to the bench, and captain Tom Lockyer, who is missing from the squad altogether.
West Ham make two changes from the starting XI named for the 3-1 win at Brighton last Saturday. Nayef Aguerd and Said Benrahma replace Angelo Ogbonna, who drops to the bench, and the suspended Tomas Soucek. Box-fresh signing Mohammed Kudus is named as a sub.
Luton Town: Kaminski, Doughty, Burke, Andersen, Bell, Giles, Chong, Nakamba, Barkley, Adebayo, Morris.
Subs: Ogbene, Berry, Woodrow, Kabore, Mpanzu, Brown, Krul, Johnson, Francis-Clarke.
West Ham United: Areola, Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson Palmieri, Alvarez, Ward-Prowse, Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Benrahma, Antonio.
Subs: Fabianski, Cresswell, Fornals, Kudus, Cornet, Ings, Ogbonna, Kehrer, Mubama.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
Thing is, while Luton were in the process of getting themselves relegated that fateful 1991-92 season, their home form was actually pretty good. Their home match previous to the Villa game was a 1-1 draw with Manchester United that planted such a large seed of doubt in Alex Ferguson’s side’s collective mind that they went on to lose their next three matches and blow the title. Before that, Kenilworth Road was the venue for wins over Nottingham Forest and Wimbledon. Back further, a couple of draws against Spurs and Crystal Palace; further back still, victories over Sheffield United and Norwich. In other words, Luton exited the division while on an eight-game unbeaten streak at home.
In fact, you have to go back to 18 January 1992 for Luton’s last top-flight defeat at Kenilworth Road, which they suffered at the hands of … this stuff writes itself … West Ham United. That match was decided midway through the second half by Mike Small, whose shot deflected off Trevor Peake and looped over goalkeeper Steve Sutton for the game’s only goal. Cue great fall and rise, and here we are again.
West Ham will fancy their chances of repeating the trick, 31 years on, this evening, having flown out of the blocks this season with impressive wins over Chelsea and Brighton. Luton by contrast are yet to pick up so much as a point, but away fixtures at Brighton and Chelsea were never going to be easy for newly promoted underdogs, and to be fair, Rob Edwards’ men kept both sides honest for long periods in those games. Also, as history shows, Kenilworth Road can be one hell of a place to get a result from. Here’s to a cracker. Kick off is at 8pm BST. It’s on!