Luton leapfrog Forest in playoff race after decisive Kal Naismith penalty | Championship


Kal Naismith’s first-half penalty proved enough to earn Luton a 1-0 win over Championship playoff rivals Nottingham Forest at Kenilworth Road. Luton had to hang on with 10 men for the final 15 minutes after Sonny Bradley was sent off for a trip on substitute Sam Surridge.

Luton started strongly, Bradley’s raking ball out of defence was miscontrolled by Djed Spence and Fred Onyedinma was denied by the body of keeper Brice Samba. Forest then went close on 13 minutes. Keinan Davis made a powerful run and found Lewis Grabban, whose low strike drew an excellent stop from James Shea.

Midway through the half, Naismith’s ambitious 30-yarder flew over, with Onyedinma’s effort from a similar distance deflecting into Samba’s gloves. Grabban’s speculative attempt on the half hour skewed well wide but the deadlock was broken on 37 minutes, Jack Colback handling James Bree’s cross in the area for a penalty.

Naismith assumed the responsibilities following Elijah Adebayo’s miss at Huddersfield on Monday night, keeping his nerve to send Samba the wrong way.

Forest thought they had restored parity early in the second half, Spence going through to beat Shea, but the linesman’s flag again went in favour of the hosts as it was ruled out for offside.

Adebayo looked to add a second on 55 minutes when Forest gave the ball away, but his snapshot from distance dribbled through to a back-pedalling Samba. Naismith almost doubled his tally, left unmarked to meet Robert Snodgrass’s corner but his header went down into the ground and over the bar.

Luton Town’s Reece Burke (left) and Forest’s Keinan Davis have words during the game.
Luton Town’s Reece Burke (left) and Forest’s Keinan Davis have words during the game. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

Back came Forest, with substitute Philip Zinckernagel left completely isolated to head at Shea with his first touch. Ryan Yates then skied an inviting chance over the top, before the Hatters were reduced to 10 men for the final 15 minutes when Bradley saw a second yellow for bringing down Surridge.

Zinckernagel’s effort from the free-kick cannoned off the wall, before he went even closer, curling against the post, with Shea denying Spence from the follow-up. Zinckernagel then blew Forest’s hopes at a late leveller, blazing over from just outside the box.

Luton’s win ended Forest’s 10-game unbeaten run and saw them move above their rivals into fourth spot.



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