Luton 0 Leeds United 1: Tyler Denton's strike decisive after United hold out

IT may have started off in fraught and somewhat depressing fashion, but the month of August is starting to take on a bit of a rosier hue for Leeds United.

Tyler Denton celebrates with Leeds United substitutes after scoring what proved the only goal of the game against Luton Town (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

Back-to-back away wins will be received as warmly by Whites supporters as this week’s welcome return of the summer weather, even if last night’s passage into round three was not without its imperfections.

Leeds were pushed all the way by League Two Luton during a second half that saw the hosts hit the accelerator in a town associated with the motor industry.

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But the night ultimately belonged to Dewsbury-born Tyler Denton. Part of a starting line-up that was changed completely from the weekend derby win at Sheffield Wednesday, he fired home a stunning 23rd-minute effort, which ultimately settled the tie.

It proved an early birthday present for the young left-back, who turns 21 early next month.

This was the proverbial game of two halves Leeds turning in a very presentable attacking showing in the first half, only to beat a retreat during a frantic final half-hour from the hosts.

It was hairy stuff at times just as it had been in the previous round at Fleetwood.

But Leeds managed to avoid the fate that befell their Championship rivals Aston Villa in the previous round at Kenilworth Road, with a little thanks to the misfiring Jack Marriott.

After spurning an excellent chance to cancel out Denton’s exquisite strike before the break, the Hatters forward then fluffed an even more glaring opportunity 11 minutes from time, firing wide with the goal at his mercy.

Leeds were afforded the rub of the green and manager Garry Monk will be making no apologies for that with momentum, a priceless quality in football, beginning to build.

After changing his midfield four ahead of the weekend derby at Sheffield Wednesday, Monk took things to a different plane by switching his entire line-up from the one that stepped out at Hillsborough.

Luke Murphy and Marco Silvestri were the surprise names on the teamsheet along with Denton, with Pontus Jansson also handed a debut following his loan move from Torino.

At half-time, Monk was able to feel vindicated at his calculated gamble with Leeds producing a slick display, crowned by a stellar moment for Denton, but without the security of the game’s outcome being put to bed.

After a quiet start, Leeds started to move through the gears, although the first dangerous moment arrived from Luton loanee Cameron McGeechan, whose dipping free-kick flew just over.

Not too long after, Leeds were in front with some purposeful build-up ending with Kemar Roofe teeing up Denton, whose instinctive 20-yard strike with the outside of his left foot flew past Christian Walton.

Leeds were within a whisker of doubling their tally just before the break, with the lively Roofe seeing his shot on the turn strike the crossbar, Stuart Dallas’s follow-up being beaten away.

United were good value for their lead, but Luton, who came back from 1-0 down to stun Villa a fortnight earlier, provided belated encouragement to their fans.

Marriott saw a long-range shot tipped over by the underemployed Silvestri before Walton blocked Souleymane Doukara at the other end.

Soon after, in a vibrant finish to the half, Marriott spurned an excellent chance to level, firing over from Jonathan Smith’s pass after rounding Silvestri – with Sol Bamba’s attempts to play offside proving in vain.

It was a warning to Leeds, although Luton failed to make early inroads on the restart, with the impression being that they would struggle to repeat their Villa heroics. The visitors looked relatively comfortable although it proved a deception. The Hatters needed a lift and they were provided it by the impressive McGeechan, who tested Silvestri’s mettle twice in quick succession.

First, the United goalkeeper made a full-stretch save to punch away his sweetly-taken free-kick before palming away a swerving first-time strike from the attacking midfielder.

A relatively benign evening was descending into something more sticky in sultry conditions, with Luton seizing the initiative, and Leeds posting little impact at the other end.

Marriott went down under pressure in the box, but nothing was doing, and his frustration was compounded when he contrived to miss a gilt-edged chance in front of the Kenilworth End.

Roofe missed a chance to seal victory in stoppage-time in a rare United foray after being played in by Doukara, but one goal proved enough.

Luton Town: Walton; O’Donnell, Rea, Mullins, Potts; Lee (Vassell 75), Gray (Cook 56), Smith, McGeehan; Hylton (Ruddock 66), Marriott. Unused substitutes: Cuthbert, Mcquoid, King, Justin.

Leeds United: Silvestri; Coyle, Jansson (Cooper 74), Bamba, Denton; Dallas, Murphy (Phillips 58), Grimes, Hernandez (Mowatt 68); Doukara, Roofe. Unused substitutes: Green, Ayling, Sacko, Antonsson.

Referee: K Johnson (Somerset).