HomeStoriesWhen Luton won the League Cup, then dropped out of the league

When Luton won the League Cup, then dropped out of the league

April 5, 2017

This day in football history


On 5 April 2009, Luton Town won the Football League Trophy in extra time over Scunthorpe, capping a run of last-gasp heroics for the Hatters in the tournament. The run of good fortune did not extend elsewhere, however, as Luton Town finished the season at the bottom of the English fourth tier and were relegated out of the Football League entirely.

The Football League Trophy, currently known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, is an annual tournament open only to teams in the third and fourth divisions of the England’s Football League. That season, Luton entered the competition in the second round, where they advanced on penalties over Brentford, 2–2 (4–3). After close 1–0 wins over Walsall and Colchester, Luton again advanced on penalties, this time over Brighton & Hove Albion in the semifinals 1–1 (4–3).

That set up the meeting with Scunthorpe, who reached the final with victories over Notts County (2–1), Grimsby Town (2–1), Rochdale (1–0), Tranmere Rovers (2–1), and Rotherham United (3–0, agg.)

Playing before a crowd of 55,378 at Wembley, Scunthorpe took an early lead with a 14th-minute goal from striker Gary Hooper, but Luton pushed ahead with goals from their forward pairing of Chris Martin (32′) and Tom Craddock (70′). Scunthorpe midfielder then ensured extra time with a strike in the 88th minute, but it was Luton who took advantage as substitute winger Claude Gnapka provided the 95th-minute match-winner.

That’s where the magic ended for Luton, who went on to endure their third consecutive relegation thanks to a 30-point deduction at the beginning of the season for financial reasons. They dropped out of the Football League and into the Football Conference, so that they were unable to defend their title the next season.





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