Edwards seals JPT quarter-final place for Reds
Reds are through to the southern area quarter-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for the first time after Gwion Edwards scored for the second successive game to settle a lively tie at Kenilworth Road.
Reds were dominant for long spells but Luton had their moments too and hit the woodwork through Luke Guttridge, twice, and Charlie Walker.
John Gregory made five changes to the side that had shared four goals with Coventry in League One on Saturday. Brian Jensen returned in goal and there were starts for Sonny Bradley, Lewis Young, Matt Harrold and Gavin Tomlin with Reds lining up 4-4-2 with Bawling at right back and Harrold and Tomlin up top.
Only one of the four ex-Reds in the Luton squad – Scott Griffiths - made their starting XI.
After a quiet start Reds created the first chance on nine minutes when Young’s left-wing cross picked out Tomlin, but his header was straight at Elliot Justham in the home goal.
The Luton keeper was certainly kept busy as Reds began to take a grip on proceedings. He made a good save from Young’s 25-yarder but was a spectator when Tomlin’s cross picked out Harrold who could only direct his header wide of the target.
Edwards became increasingly influential as the half wore on. He finished a good run with a swerving strike that Eastham beat out. Tomlin was first to the loose ball but his shot across the face of goal was deflected wide.
A scoreless first half involving Reds is nothing new this season but the deadlock was nearly broken at the other end after 38 minutes when Guttridge’s shot from the edge of the box hit the outside of Jensen’s right-hand post.
Reds finally made their pressure count with the opening goal on 49 minutes. Young produced another good cross from the left and Harrold met it sweetly and saw his shot come back off the bar. Fortunately it fell to EDWARDS ten yards out and he smashed the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Marvin Elliott wasn’t far away with a header from another Young cross as Reds looked for a second before Luton enjoyed a decent spell.
Charlie Walker, signed in the summer from Peacehaven, hit the inside of the post with his first touch after lobbing Jensen on 66 minutes after Paul Benson had flicked the ball on.
Reds had to withstand a spell of pressure but they broke well on 72 minutes when Young and Mat Sadler linked up to set up Edwards whose powerful shot was only a yard wide of the left-hand upright.
As the contest entered its last 15 minutes Luke Wilkinson directed a header straight at Jensen but Reds continued to look a threat on the counter and from one such raid Elliott lifted his shot from the edge of the box over the Luton bar.
But it was the Crawley woodwork that was quivering with seven minutes left when Guttridge let fly again from distance and his right-foot effort crashed back off the underside of the bar and Walker could only head the rebound over.
Reds made their first change with six minutes to go when Smith came on for Edwards with Bawling moving into midfield and the visitors saw out the remainder of the game comfortably enough to the delight of the 125 travelllng fans in a crowd of 2186.