Luton Town 1-0 Reading: Poacher's finish from Harry Cornick the difference as Luton reach the play-offs
Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Luton Town have booked their place in the playoffs this afternoon following victory against Reading.

Monday's defeat to Fulham was a thing of the past as an intuitive poacher's goal from Harry Cornick capped a solid victory.  Orjan Nyland rolled the ball out and Cornick hiding behind, snuck in to rob the ball and slide into the empty net for his 12th goal of the Championship season. 

Results elsewhere also helped Luton, as Middlesbrough lost 4-1 to Preston North End and Millwall succumbed to Bournemouth.

Now, Huddersfield Town stand between the Bedfordshire team and Wembley in what is a crucial period in the club's history. 

  • Teams

Nathan Jones made five changes for his side's final game of the season. Defensively, the Hatters were boosted by the timely return of both Sonny Bradley and James Bree.

Allan Campbell was also deemed fit enough, joining Henri Lansbury and Jordan Clark in the midfield. Clark made his first start in the team since March. 

Danny Hylton was replaced by Harry Cornick - 27-year-old back to partner Cameron Jerome in attack. 

Luton Town: Ingram; Bree, Burke, Bradley (C), Naismith, Bell; Lansbury, Campbell, Clark; Cornick, Jerome.

Substitutes: Isted, Potts, Hylton, Snodgrass, Mendes Gomes, Lockyer, Muskwe

Embed from Getty Images

Defender Tom Holmes and forward Yakou Meite returned for the visitors.

Meite, was previously prolific in this fixture two seasons prior - scoring four of the Royals five goals in their 5-0 win. Defender Nelson Abbey was also in the league squad for the first time this season in a bench made up largely of academy graduates. 

Reading: Nyland; Thomas, Morrison (C), Holmes, McIntyre, Rahman; Hoilett, Laurent, Ejaria; Meite, Joao.

Substitutes: Southwood, Tetex, Dele-Bashiru, Ehibhatiomhan, Abbey, Adbrefa, Scott.

Embed from Getty Images

  • Story of the match

Luton began the game in the ascendency as all involved seemed to  know the importance of this one. Inside the opening ten minutes, the home side had a plethora of chances. 

Just 30 seconds in Cameron Jerome was bearing down on goal, opening his body from the left side, he was unable to convert as Orjan Nyland was equal to his low driven shot. 

Three minutes later, Jerome was involved again as he knocked the ball down for the industrious Allan Campbell. The Scot arrived on the edge but got under his effort and could only watch it sail over. On 7', Campbell would get another chance, but his weak header hardly challenged Nyland. 

Reading took a little longer to get a foothold, their first real effort coming 26 minutes in. Ovie Ejaria controlled the ball well and surged left in the box but Matt Ingram got down well to block the shot with his body. 

On 29', James Bree went close from a free kick on the edge. Alas, he couldn't get enough bend on the right footed strike. As half time beckoned, Luton fans would've been wondering when their side would get in front. Just before the whistle  though, Luton would finally take that chance - in the cheekiest of fashion too. 

After a routine save, Nyland was perhaps complacent. Harry Cornick had just missed the low ball from the left but instead of running back, loitered behind the unsuspecting keeper. Unaware of the stalking striker, the Norwegian rolled the ball out to kick. From the blind-spot, Cornick nicked the ball and tapped into the empty net much to the delight of Kenilworth Road.  

Second half

After half time, Luton came out with a similar ferocity as was seen at the start of the first half. The second period was seconds old when Harry Cornick watched his glancing header from the right float over. On 50', James Bree bent an audacious long range effort just a fraction wide of the top right corner. 

With Luton firmly on top, Orjan Nyland looked to make up for his previous mistake. Cameron Jerome cut in from the left and slammed a shot on goal. The keeper was agile and got a graceful touch, pushing the ball on the bar to keep it 1-0. 

Yet again, Reading took a little longer to cause any problems. This time on 61', Josh Laurent went on a marauding run down the right. Henri Lansbury darted across and in the process clattered in to the advertising boards much to the concern of his opposite number. 

Reading kept up the pressure and forced a save from Ingram. A ball was floated over from the right and the emergency loan keeper covered his right post well. Another good stop. 

After 72 minutes there was another good opportunity for the visitors. Michael Morrison would've had a goal if wasn't for Sonny Bradley putting his body on the line following a Reading corner. In the next phase, the towering defender was left bloodied after a clash of heads. 

With vital players Cornick and Campbell replaced with Muskwe and Snodgrass, Luton looked to play out the final 10 minutes. Results elsewhere at Preston and Bournemouth enabled Luton fans to catch their breath, but Nathan Jones was audible from the side-line, pushing his players until the end. 

Luton survived Referee Jeremy Simpson's six minutes of additional time and the noise was immense as Nathan Jones shook hands with his staff. Sixth place was secured and the Premier League dream is very much alive.  

Now, the focus shifts to keeping players fit over the coming weeks as Town face a gruelling semi-final against Huddersfield. The first leg takes place at Kenilworth Road on Friday the 13th of May. The second leg away is just three days later on the 16th. 

Embed from Getty Images