Championship round-up: Ireland striker James Collins gives Luton relegation lifeline with winner against Swansea

Luton saw their hopes of Sky Bet Championship survival improve with a shock 1-0 victory at 10-man Swansea thanks to a second-half header from Ireland striker James Collins.

athan Jones’ side travelled to south Wales bottom of the table, but they did not play like relegation candidates as they had the better of a poor first half.

Swansea were far from their best and Collins made them pay in the second half as he settled what was a game of few chances.

Jordon Garrick was sent off in the 83rd minute for Swansea for a punch, capping an afternoon to forget for their head coach Steve Cooper.

With artificial crowd noise played inside an empty Liberty Stadium, Swansea started slowly.

Luton’s Dan Potts headed wide and home forward Andre Ayew worked Simon Sluga, but it was the visitors who had a golden chance to open the scoring.

After Aldo Kalulu gave the ball away, Harry Cornick escaped down the right and cut inside on to his left foot. With the goal gaping, he could only blaze a wild shot high and wide.

Swansea’s frustration was obvious as they struggled to make their possession count and goalkeeper Freddie Woodman had to collect a dangerous Potts cross.

It left Cooper with plenty to do as the game reached half-time scoreless.

Ayew’s shot was the only first-half effort on target and the wasteful Kalulu was withdrawn in favour of Garrick for the second period.

Swansea were immediately improved and their next change saw Jay Fulton – who had taken a nasty first-half fall – replaced by the more attacking George Byers.

At the other end, Luton finally worked Woodman as Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu shot from distance, while Ayew headed a Matt Grimes free-kick over.

Ayew was the only home player who looked capable of breaking the deadlock as both teams lacked creativity, but Swansea had two quick chances.

Grimes’ corner was headed on goal by Ben Cabango. Sluga produced a smart save but the quiet Rhian Brewster could not put the rebound on target.

Swansea paid the price in the 72nd minute.

Hatters substitute Izzy Brown crossed from the right and Collins rose high above Cabango. His powerful header could only be palmed into his own net by Woodman.

Swansea were shocked and could not find a response. Grimes had a free-kick tipped over the bar by Sluga and their frustration boiled over when Conor Gallagher and Byers made wild challenges.

It prompted a scuffle in which Garrick swung a punch at Collins and was sent off.

His dismissal led to a bad-tempered last few minutes – not that it bothered Luton, who took home what could yet be a priceless three points after nine minutes of added time.

Elsewhere, Cardiff struck three times in the final 21 minutes to win their Sky Bet Championship play-off battle with Preston 3-1 at a rain-lashed Deepdale.

A drab contest played out in ferocious showers burst into life when Joe Ralls broke the deadlock with a far-post header in the 69th minute.

Daniel Johnson quickly equalised but Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel struck late on to lift the Bluebirds above Preston and into the top six.

Charlton boosted their Sky Bet Championship survival hopes with a hard-fought victory over QPR at the Valley.

Darren Pratley’s 12th-minute header proved the difference between the London rivals to give the Addicks a second consecutive 1-0 win since the resumption of football.

It moved Lee Bowyer’s team onto 45 points, but QPR endured a frustrating afternoon for the second Saturday in succession.

Bottom club Barnsley picked up a point at home to play-off chasing Millwall while Wayne Rooney was on the mark foe Derby with a first-half stoppage-time penalty proving decisive in a 2-1 win over Reading.

PA Media


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