Luton continued their terrific form under Mick Harford last night, beating promotion rivals Portsmouth in an exhilarating encounter at Kenilworth Road.
The Hatters twice took the lead and twice Portsmouth pulled them back before George Moncur slotted home a free-kick four minutes from time to send the Luton faithful into ecstasy.
The 3-2 victory puts the Hatters five points clear at the top of League One and leaves Portsmouth on a bad run of three league defeats in a row. It was Luton’s first league victory over Portsmouth for over twenty years and extended their unbeaten run to an incredible seventeen matches.
Hatters interim boss Mick Harford described Luton’s first-half display was one of the best he had seen in his long career as Luton quickly adapted to the tricky conditions.
He told Dunstable Today “I’ve got to take my hat off to the players, they’ve been absolutely brilliant since I took over the interim role and you saw in the first half, what a performance, a performance at that level which I’ve never seen in my entire career.”
Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett insisted there was still plenty of points to play for but did not hide from his sides current poor form, telling the clubs official website that “There’s a long way to go and we’re disappointed to lose. We can’t brush this one under the carpet, but we’re still in the hunt, and we have to look forward positively.”
Defeats by Blackpool, Oxford United and Luton have seen Pompey surrender a five-point lead on News Years Day to now trail Luton by the same margin although they do have a game in hand.
Jackett is still looking to strengthen his squad with attacking options his main priority. He told Portsmouth Live that no key men would be leaving Fratton park and “there is space there for one, maybe two, coming in. We will see if we can get somebody we think will make a difference.”
“If we can bring in more players in terms of our attacking options, I think that’s where it is. I will try to see what the next 48 hours bring.”
Harford meanwhile was delighted, praising the resilience and spirit of his players. “We know of the talent of the bunch, but the character absolutely shone out this evening.”
“I’m very happy indeed, as you can see at the end with the celebrations we had with the players and the fans.”
What a job Harford has done since the shock departure of Nathan Jones. Lutons form as continued as if nothing has happened and they now must be strongly fancied to be playing Championship Football next season.
Pompey needs to get out of this bad run of form quickly with Barnsley and Charlton breathing down their necks. Jackett has signed Bogle Morris and Cannon so far this window, but still obviously feels he needs more. It could be a busy few days at Fratton Park and crucial if they are to maintain a challenge for automatic promotion and not drift into the Play-Off places.