AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Luton Town: Hatters' resurgent second half not enough against undefeated Cherries
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

Scott Parker's AFC Bournemouth beat Luton Town 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium, going top of the table and remaining unbeaten in the first nine league matches.

Seemingly, composure was the watch word for Luton as they were left to rue missed chances as the Cherries took the initiative in the first half.

Goals from Philip Billing and Dominic Solanke proved too much for a poor Luton side in the first period and eventually choked out any  prospective comeback in the second half.

Although Luton forced a Lloyd Kelly own goal with the influence of defender Reece Burke, it wasn't enough for Nathan Jones' men, who after this, drift down to 16th place. 

  • Teams

Bournemouth came into the game with an unchanged lineup from last weeks 0-1 away win against Cardiff City After a competent display in South Wales, Scott Parker opted for more of the same against the travelling Hatters. Yet again he included goal scorer Philip Billing and the assisting man of the match last time out, Adam Smith.

AFC Bournemouth: Travers; Smith, Cahill, Kelly (C), Zemura, Lerma, Pearson, Billing, Christie, Solanke, Anthony.

The trip to the Vitality Stadium, saw a return to the starting XI for Jordan Clark. His return to training in the recent weeks was a big positive for Nathan Jones’ men. Fit after his gruesome collision against West Brom, Clark replaced an injured Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu. The Congolese international picked up a small knock in training. 

New signing Elliot Thorpe, who joined for free from Tottenham Hotspur, travelled with the club but was only present from the stands. 

Luton Town: Sluga; Lockyer, Burke, Naismith (C), Bree, Berry, Lansbury, Clark, Osho, Adebayo, Cornick.

Referee: Tim Robinson

  • Story of the match

Composure would be the key in the first half at the Vitality. In the early exchanges, both sides were feeling each other out and Luton were happy to take the game to their opponents.

Although Luton readily moved forward, the Cherries had the first chance of the game. Eight minutes in, Ryan Christie, fed by the experienced Adam Smith, just missed wide right of Sluga's goal.

Luton weren't phased and took matters up the other end of the pitch. Thirteen minutes in, Harry Cornick offered a determined drive down the right - only stopping to square to Elijah Adebayo.

Coming off of a two goal outing against Swansea, many would've had the ex-Walsall man to score from close range. Alas, he blazed high and wide, clattering into the stanchion to make matters worse.

It was a poor effort and ultimately a chance the visitors would rue not taking. Minutes later, Bournemouth piled on the pressure and Ryan Christie played in an unmarked Philip Billing. He took the pass first time and slotted past a helpless Simon Sluga with a smart, side footed volley on his right. This was Billing's second goal in two games following last weeks win at Cardiff. 

After a gritty period of the game with successive bitty fouls, Luton found their feet again moving forward. Following a foul won by Elijah Adebayo, Henri Lansbury put in a ball for Tom Lockyer from the left. The Welshman rose highest but his header was too high.

Although a half chance, this one would be another to add to the miss list and yet another kick to the teeth when the hosts doubled their lead.

On the half hour mark, Luton failed to clear a corner and Bournemouth kept possession on the edge of the box before coolly floating in a cross. Ryan Christie's ball found  Dominic Solanke from the left and he outjumped Reece Burke, guiding his header down into the bottom left corner. This was Solanke's seventh goal of the season, adding to his tally as Bournemouth's top scorer.

Before the half was out, the two sides continued to play through bitty fouls and the hosts looked the more likely to add to their lead. On the 34 minute mark, Solanke had his shot blocked. So too did Jefferson Lerma five minutes later, as Luton survived to the break. 

After half time, Luton introduced Amari'i Bell to the action replacing Gabe Osho. From the beginning, the Hatters showed good energy and forced themselves onto the hosts. The play after a Luton corner, Lansbury just reached the ball before opposition midfielder Ben Pearson. The number 22 caught Lansbury and was subsequently booked. It just added to the gritty side of the fixture that had been present all afternoon.

The visitors continued their bright start to the half with a succession of corners, one of which goalkeeper Mark Travers had to tip over on 49 minutes. Luton came close again, but the official's offside flag stood between them and the opposition's box as Jordan Clark tried to find Cornick.

The men in white looked a different side after the break and their consistent pressure was finally rewarded on 63 minutes. Defender Reece Burke was involved after another Town corner. Luke Berry put the ball in and Burke shot, although it took Cherries captain Lloyd Kelly to give a definitive touch to put it in his own net. 

Luton executed their second change in the 71st minute. Assist maker Luke Berry withdrew for summer signing Carlos Mendes Gomes. Veteran striker Cameron Jerome was also introduced for Luton, with ex-Bournemouth man Harry Cornick taking to the bench. 

Bournemouth also brought on changes of their own on 74 minutes with Morgan Rogers coming on for Jaidon Anthony. Ryan Christie also made way for defender Chris Mepham, as Scott Parker looked to cement the Bournemouth victory. 

Ten minutes later on the 85th minute, Adebayo saw his effort set up by Jordan Clark fly high and left.  A minute later, they were at it again - this time with Kal Naismith surging forward although his meagre effort didn't trouble Mark Travers. On 89 minutes, Solanke came off for Jamal Lowe and as the clock ticked 90 - four minutes of added time were announced.

A spirited second half Luton performance wasn't enough and Bournemouth saw out the visitors' futile attempts in the dying embers. This win for Scott Parker’s men sees them now top the table, still unbeaten in nine games. Luton now drop to 16th in the table. 

  • Takeaways

Definitely in the first half, it seemed a game centred simply around composure. Luton squandered early chances and who knows the complexion of the match if Elijah Adebayo had converted his effort from point blank range. 

A notable performer today, Dane Philip Billing has spread his goal scoring exploits to now two goals in two games. Plus, Dominic Solanke’s header now makes it his seventh goal of the season. Bournemouth's Man of the match was midfielder Ben Pearson.

For Luton, it seemed that the strike force was not firing on all cylinders. With the goal, it looked as though throwing a big man forward at the set piece can reap rewards. However, that said - Luton's seven corners dwarfed that of Bournemouth's four. This perhaps suggests set piece practice could be in order regardless of Reece Burke's involvement in today's goal. 

For Bournemouth, they next play newly promoted Peterborough away on Wednesday as they look to continue their reign as league leaders. For Luton, high flying third place Coventry come to Kenilworth Road in the midweek.