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Luton Town vs Wolverhampton Wanderers. Premier League.

Kenilworth RoadAttendance10,893.

Luton Town 1

  • C Morris (65th minute pen)

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

  • J Bellegarde (sent off 39th minute)
  • P Neto (50th minute)

Luton 1-1 Wolves: Carlton Morris scores controversial penalty to hand Rob Edwards' side first Premier League point

Match report and highlights as Luton's impressive fightback earned their first Premier League point of the season; Pedro Neto opened the scoring with a superb solo goal, before Carlton Morris restored parity from the spot; Jean-Ricner Bellegarde was sent off for kicking out at Tom Lockyer

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Luton’s draw against Wolves in the Premier League

Carlton Morris' second-half penalty cancelled out Pedro Neto's solo stunner to earn Luton Town a deserved 1-1 draw with 10-player Wolves, and their first point of the Premier League campaign.

The equaliser, scored 15 minutes after Neto's sublime opener, was not without its controversy though, as referee Josh Smith - overseeing his first top-flight match - pointed to the spot when Joao Gomes appeared to block Issa Kabore's strike with a raised arm.

On second viewing, the shot deflected off an outstretched leg before hitting the midfielder's arm, but VAR official John Brooks elected to go with the on-field decision.

"I have no idea why that's not been overturned by VAR," former Premier League referee Mike Dean said on Soccer Saturday. Wolves boss Gary O'Neil was equally displeased, branding the decision "absolutely terrible", and calling for referees to "up their level" in his post-match address.

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Tim Sherwood and Mike Dean fume over the decision to award Luton a penalty against Wolves after Joao Gomes was adjudged to have handled the ball.

Wolves' bad luck with referees

  • August 2023: PGMOL apologised after failing to award Wolves a penalty at Man Utd following Andre Onana's wild challenge.
  • March 2023: Referees' chief Howard Webb said sorry after VAR failed to award a penalty to Wolves for a foul on Raul Jimenez by Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope.
  • February 2023: The Premier League criticised PGMOL after the weekend in which Mario Lemina was sent off for being the third player to approach the referee to complain about a decision against Southampton.
  • January 2023: Matheus Nunes was not awarded a penalty despite being caught by Nottingham Forest’s Emmanuel Dennis before going out in a shoot-out defeat.
  • January 2023: Toti’s ‘winner’ at Liverpool in the FA Cup was ruled out despite none of the TV angles showing anyone to be offside. Nunes, who was out of frame, was ruled offside.
Wolves' Jean-Ricner Bellegarde (floor) is shown a red card and is sent off by referee Josh Smith
Image: Wolves' Jean-Ricner Bellegarde (floor) is shown a straight red card for kicking out at Tom Lockyer

Luton forward Morris was the direct beneficiary, dispatching his second spot-kick of the season with ease as Jose Sa went one way and the ball the other for the game's leveller.

Wolves could be forgiven for thinking the officials were conspiring against them having also seen Jean-Ricner Bellegarde sent off in the first period for a moment of madness in a tussle with Tom Lockyer, but there was little jeopardy in that conclusion, with the Frenchman giving referee Smith little choice but to dismiss him for a clear kick out.

"We need to fix the craziness in the group," O'Neil also said of his players, referring to Bellegarde's red card, which was Wolves' eighth since the start of last term - double the amount of any other side.

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In truth, Luton enjoyed the ascendancy from almost minute one, and were roared on by a deafening Kenilworth Road contingent, whose desperation to see their side collect some much-needed points was abundantly clear. As it was, one was enough to suffice, and demonstrate green shoots of recovery after a barren four-game run.

Team news

  • Luton: Rob Edwards experimented with a 4-4-2, swapping Mads Andersen and Tahith Chong for Chiedozie Ogbene and Alfie Doughty.
  • Wolves: Gary O'Neil selected an unchanged side from the one that was turned over by Liverpool at Molineux a week ago.

How Luton came from behind to get off the mark in PL

Issa Kabore of Luton Town battles for possession with Hee-Chan Hwang of Wolves
Image: Issa Kabore of Luton Town battles for possession with Hee-Chan Hwang of Wolves

It is difficult to discern whether Rob Edwards will be pleased with Luton's showing against Wolves, or whether he might feel as if his side should have used their extra man to greater effect to ensure they emerged with three points instead of one.

Luton started the game on the front foot, as promised by Edwards, who opted to go with a more attacking formation to force better openings in the final third. For most of the game it worked, but of their 20 attempts in total, only four hit the target. Morris' curler from range which struck the crossbar in the opening exchanges was as close as they came.

Jointly, the Bedfordshire side underperformed against their xG by 1.08, having taken more shots, completed more passes in the opposition half (201), and averaged more possession (56.6 per cent) than in any of their previous four encounters.

Despite going down to 10 players, it was indeed the uninspiring visitors who delivered a shock lead shortly after the break through Neto, who outpaced and outmuscled Lockyer, before firing emphatically beyond Thomas Kaminski - the moment of class the game was badly craving.

Player ratings

Luton: Kaminski (6), Burke (7), Lockyer (8), Bell (6), Kabore (7), Nakamba (6), Lokonga (6), Doughty (7), Ogbene (8), Morris (8), Brown (7).

Subs: Mpanzu (7), Giles (7), Woodrow (6), Adebayo (6).

Wolves: Sa (6), Ait-Nouri, Kilman (7), Dawson (7), Semedo (5), Lemina (5), Gomes (6), Hwang (6), Bellegarde (3), Neto (8), Cunha (6).

Subs: Doherty (6), Toti (7), Traore (n/a), Bueno (n/a), Doyle (n/a).

Player of the match: Carlton Morris

Carlton Morris celebrates his equaliser
Image: Carlton Morris netted an equaliser from the penalty spot after Joao Gomes was penalised for handball

Kenilworth Road cried out for a response and in the 65th minute Luton's players obliged, after being handed a lifeline when Gomes inadvertently handled the ball in the box, and, following a VAR review, Morris stepped up to send Sa the wrong way - another decision that will be debated by managers and pundits alike, as the rules around handball continue to be subjectively applied.

Target man Elijah Adebayo was latterly brought on by Edwards and orange shirts continued to pour forwards in search of the striker, and a winner, but were ultimately denied by a combination of Craig Dawson and Max Kilman at the heart of Wolves' compact defence.

Late on, Nakamba's shot was deflected into the path of Chiedozie Ogbene who swept the ball home, but had his celebrations cut short by the offside flag.

O'Neil: Penalty decision 'terrible' - refereeing must improve

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Gary O'Neil says the controversial awarding of a penalty against Luton was a 'terrible' decision. Former Premier League referee Mike Dean believes it will set a precedent for future handball decisions.

Wolves manager Gary O'Neil:

"Disappointed with the first 25 minutes. We knew today would be a test of mentality, and being ready. Luton were aggressive, went man for man, and we lost every duel.

"We had to change shape to try get a foothold and eventually saw off a terrible spell. Then we suffer a crazy moment from Jean, which makes it tough from then. To respond and fight until the end, and deserve to win the game, I'm pleased.

"Jean has apologised to the group and is very disappointed. It's something we can't have. We need to fix the craziness in the group. You can't be successful in football matches if you have that. Jean is aware, the players are all aware, because you leave the rest of team exposed."

Speaking about the penalty decision that allowed Luton a route back into the game, O'Neil said: "Never a penalty. Absolutely terrible decision.

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Luton secured their first ever Premier League point with a 1-1 draw against Wolves but there were question marks over the penalty they were awarded after Joao Gomes was penalised for handball.

"If that's a pen we're in a bad place with the rules. I've got the rules that were sent to us on my phone. It hits Joao on the leg first. I forgive the referee, but it hit two body parts before it hits the arm. The rules state it's not a penalty. We've been told the rules. I don't understand. Hopefully they [referees] can improve the level they are at."

Edwards: Proud of display - finishing needs to improve

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Rob Edwards felt Luton dominated the game, playing quick, entertaining football against Wolves and should have got all three points.

Luton Town manager Rob Edwards:

"I'm proud of the players today. We dominated the game and were much the better team - everything we wanted to be.

"Wolves have got world-class players, and Pedro Neto is one of those. I'm standing here saying we should have three points, but it's progression.

"We can stop talking about Luton being the only team who hasn't got anything. We were on the front foot, being aggressive. Our football was entertaining, and that first 25 minutes we were electric.

"We still need to be better in the final third. We're working at it. But we found a way."

Opta: Wolves with discipline issues?

Jean-Ricner Bellegarde’s red card was Wolves’ eighth in the Premier League since the start of last season.
Image: Jean-Ricner Bellegarde’s red card was Wolves’ eighth in the Premier League since the start of last season.
  • Jean-Ricner Bellegarde's red card was Wolves' eighth in the Premier League since the start of last season, more than twice as many as any other side.
  • Since last gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2018-19, only Leicester City (33) and Brighton and Hove Albion (32) have faced more penalties than Wolves (30).
  • All three of Luton Town's Premier League goals this season have been scored in the second half. The goal was also Carlton Morris' second penalty goal of the season, no player has scored more from the spot than him this season.

What's next?

Luton visit Exeter in the Carabao Cup third round on Tuesday at 7.45pm before the Hatters travel to take on Everton in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm.

Wolves are also in Carabao Cup action on Tuesday away to Ipswich Town at 7.45pm before they host Manchester City next Saturday at 3pm.

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