Derby 2-0 Luton: Tom Lawrence scores as Rams see off Hatters
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at Pride Park
Last Updated: 05/10/19 6:42pm
Tom Lawrence was again in the spotlight as he scored Derby's second goal in a 2-0 win over Luton on a dreadful afternoon for goalkeeper Simon Sluga.
The Croatian stopper gifted Derby both goals, completely missing a Matty Pearson back pass before he was beaten at his near post by a Lawrence cross in the second half.
Lawrence, who started his second game following a drink-drive charge, was booed by sections of the home fans although the Wales international was cheered when he scored.
Graeme Shinnie made his Sky Bet Championship debut, which meant he was facing his older brother Andrew, one of two changes for Luton who found themselves trailing after a howler from Sluga.
Derby started brightly, testing Luton with deep crosses from both flanks, but Pearson's back pass in the 11th minute should have been routine for Sluga only for the keeper to let it roll under his right foot and over the line.
It was an astonishing mistake and there was another at the other end when a low ball from the right presented James Collins with an open goal but he put it over the bar from virtually on the line.
Luton looked too open and Derby cut them apart in the 35th minute when Jamie Paterson easily slipped past Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and found Chris Martin, but his pass was just in front of the incoming Florian Jozefzoon.
Derby were also getting caught in possession and Collins had another opening in the 43rd minute but could not get his header on target as he stretched.
Lawrence, who was booed before the start, got in a good position early in the second half but dragged a shot wide and Luton had a chance in the 56th minute when Ryan Tunnicliffe fired over from 10 yards.
The visitors were having a good spell and Harry Cornick went close when his low ball was turned behind for a corner as the home fans became increasingly anxious.
Derby responded with a slick move that saw Jayden Bogle miskick before Lawrence cut inside and fired narrowly wide in the 63rd minute.
But Lawrence added a second in the 70th minute when his cross from the right sailed over Sluga, who was again badly at fault.
Luton kept pressing and Kelle Roos saved from Kazenga Lualua late on but those two Sluga errors proved the difference on the day.
What the managers said...
Phillip Cocu: "I am glad Tom got his goal today. We have to move on, we have to stick together, and this helps. It is important for him, and it is important for the team as well. Like we said, and I think they (the fans) are also clear about it, they accept what the club announced but then it is also time to move on and get them back in the team and support them. The crowd and the fans did, and I was happy about that.
"I spoke to him today like I did on Wednesday and there's a lot on the mind of the players of course so this is something we don't underestimate but he feels free when he's on the pitch, in training or in a game. I asked him, 'if I put you on, can you play?' and he said yes. If he couldn't he would tell me he said. It's good for him that he scored a goal and he worked so hard for the team. This is the way he tries to give something back, not only to the team but to everybody."
Graeme Jones: "I think the game was a 1-1 game or a 0-0, there was very little difference in shots on target or off target. I expected James (Collins) to tap in first half but you can't legislate for those kind of errors. I can't defend him, we got beat 2-0 because of two goalkeeping errors.
"That's what happened, it's life as a goalkeeper. I gave my opinion at the end of the game because I've got 13 other boys to think about who gave their heart and soul. Honestly I've never seen two goals like that in my life. Simon goes away with the Croatian national team and it might do him the world of good to have a break from everybody. He's made two errors today that were plain for everybody to see."