Ryan Tunnicliffe’s goal punished Nottingham Forest’s lack of killer as Luton won 1-0 at City Ground in the Championship.
Chris Hughton’s side could have been out of sight after a first half that they dominated almost entirely – but they failed to take the chance and Nathan Jones’ side won all three points.
Forest was less impressive after the break, but they will always remember missed opportunities from Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert and solid saves from Simon Sluga, whose pick was a good save to keep James Garner out.
Forest should have taken the lead in the fourth minute, when Knockaert spotted an unmarked Murray a few yards away, but the forward was denied as Sluga dove to his left to make an awkward save.
Knockaert himself then passed over and Filip Krovinovic hit a powerful wide shot as the home side got off to a lively start.
Murray led another wide opportunity, before Cyrus Christie was also finicky with a low shot.
Forest continued to press and a smart free kick from Knockaert saw him feed Joe Lolley, who saw Sluga make another hard stop to prevent his pushing effort. The guard made Cafu’s follow-up work easier.
Knockaert followed a driving race with a tantalizing delivery, but Murray couldn’t keep his effort on target as he stretched to connect a few yards. The forward looked frustrated that he hadn’t scored.
Christie then forced a bit more nervousness into defending Luton with a center whip, but that was cleared before Murray could connect. From the resulting corner, Knockaert shot wide.
By halftime, Forest had amassed 13 efforts on goal, but hit the target with just three, allowing Luton to pull away.
The story resumed after the break, with Garner and Cafu both finicky with ranged shots.
Sluga then brought up another big save to stop Garner as he led a 12-yard shot that appeared to be tied at the bottom corner.
Luton then threw a warning shot as Elijah Adebayo nearly scored with Luton’s first clear-cut opening, with Brice Samba gratefully holding his shot.
The importance of Forest’s missed opportunities was brought home when Luton took the lead in the 64th minute. Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu went wide to the left and Tunnicliffe applied the finish.
Jordan Clark was only one foot away from making it 2-0 with little effort as Luton regained his confidence.
Murray shot a large, low ball for Taylor, but Sluga bravely jumped on it, while Cafu had a wild shot but Forest couldn’t find a way back.
What the managers said …
Nottingham Forest’s Chris Hughton: “It was a very good performance in the first half, we started the game well and had very good chances. Of course, if you go through a period of the game and don’t take those risks, you know that l opposition to get back to 0-0, they would have been relieved by that, they would have felt they could not be better than in the second half.
“We were disappointed that after scoring we didn’t create anything like the kind of chances we had in the first half. It’s the same story again – if you don’t put your chances to one side. , we play against good teams that will fight for 90 minutes and you will end up having to look at the goal you concede and take the bones out of it. It was a bad goal that we conceded. I would rather stay here talking about our luck. “
Luton first team coach Chris cohen: “The boys worked incredibly hard in that first half as Forest was at the top and had a better chance of taking the lead. Getting into the half at 0-0 was really important to us. We knew we were there. Could play better. In the second. We were brilliant, we got out, we passed the ball better, we scored a brilliant goal and had other chances, against a very good team from Forest.
“We wanted to come out and be brave and daring. We knew that if we could go 0-0 at half-time we could maybe hurt them on the counterattack. Ryan Tunnicliffe scored a great goal for us, for the second game in a row. He hasn’t played as many games as he would like this season, but he worked really hard on the training ground to earn his chance – and he took that chance when it came. . It was a brilliant evening for us, all around. “