Luton 4, Chesterfield 0: Nightmare start for Humphreys as Spireites crash out of Checkatrade Trophy
Managerless Chesterfield saw their Checkatrade Trophy hopes end dismally at the last 16 stage.
Ritchie Humphreys took caretaker charge for the first time since Danny Wilson’s departure at the weekend, but he couldn’t provide the necessary inspiration as League Two play-off chasers Luton were good value for their thumping victory.
Two Luton goals inside a sharp three-minute burst midway through the first period left the Spireites facing an uphill battle by the interval at Kenilworth Road.
The deadlock was broken after 23 minutes when referee Charles Breakspear pointed to the spot after Laurence Maguire floored Craig Mackail-Smith in the box.
The Hatters’ experienced front-man dusted himself off before slotting coolly past Lloyd Allinson.
It was soon 2-0 when Jack Marriott latched on to a long punt forward, shrugged off the attention of Sam Hird, before drilling confidently past Allinson.
Earlier, Allinson had been called upon twice in the opening minutes, saving impressively from Mackail-Smith and Jordan Cook’s superb curling strike.
After going two goals behind, the Spireites rallied somewhat, with Dan Gardner cutting inside neatly before smashing a shot narrowly wide.
Mackail-Smith responded when finding space, only to fire straight at a grateful Allinson, while at the other end the visitors were denied agonisingly by the bar just as the game entered stoppage-time.
It was Jay O’Shea who came mighty close to halving the deficit, though it may have been more by luck than design as his looping free-kick into the danger zone struck the top of the crossbar before bouncing behind.
It proved to be a hugely disappointing start to the second period for Humphreys’ men.
Soon after the restart the Hatters went close when Cook fired in a goal-bound strike which was bravely blocked by Ian Evatt.
In the 51st minute it was 3-0 to the hosts.
Marriott struck again, latching on to a neat pass from Cook before angling a shot across Allinson and into the far corner of the goal.
Humphreys made a double substitution in response, but still his team struggled to find a clear view of goal.
The Spireites did go close to pulling a goal back in the 71st minute.
Connor Dimaio took aim from the edge of the box, only for his shot to fizz a whisker past the post.
Cook thought he’d increased Luton’s lead in the 79th minute, but a linesman’s flag rescued the Spireites this time.
However, sub Isaac Vassell lashed in a fourth goal for the hosts with four minutes to go.