A CONTROVERSIAL early red card shown to Jefferson Lerma helped Luton Town produce a shock victory over Cherries at Vitality Stadium.

The only goal of the game came midway through the second half through midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s well-placed strike.

But Cherries were left aggrieved after having to play more than an hour of the contest with 10 men after Lerma was sent off for accidentally catching the face of Tom Lockyer with his arm whilst challenging for a header.

Boss Jason Tindall used all five available subs from his bench in the closing stages to try and forge a way back into the game, but one goal proved to be enough for the Hatters to take the win.

Tindall made three changes to his starting XI from the midweek draw with Millwall. One was enforced with the injured Junior Stanislas replaced by Joshua King. Meanwhile, former Luton duo Jack Stacey and Cameron Carter-Vickers were preferred to Lloyd Kelly and Jack Simpson, who both dropped to the bench. It was Tottenham loanee Carter-Vickers’s first league appearance for Cherries.

Defender Chris Mepham returned to the matchday squad for the first time since December 8 after recovering from a calf problem.

Luton handed a start to ex-Cherries youngster and former Poole Grammar School pupil Harry Cornick up front.

The reverse fixture between these two sides last month ended in a drab goalless draw, but Cherries made a lively start this time around.

David Brooks drove forward and had a shot in just the second minute, which was well blocked by Tom Lockyer.

King was then presented with a golden opportunity. After a weak header from Luke Berry back towards his own goal, King pounced but seemed to get caught in two minds and only managed to prod the ball into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Simon Sluga.

But their cause was hampered by the big flashpoint of the half.

With just under half an hour played, Lerma rose to compete in the air with Lockyer. After being nudged by Berry, Lerma was knocked off balance and as he came towards the ground caught the face of Lockyer with his forearm.

After protests from Luton and having seen blood coming from the head of Lockyer, referee David Webb produced the red card to dismiss Lerma, the second time he has been sent off in his Cherries career.

Lockyer also did not last much longer. Despite being bandaged up and sent back on, the defender was withdrawn a few minutes later and replaced by Kal Naismith, who only signed for the club yesterday.

Despite having the extra man, Luton were still struggling to create any openings with Cherries ending the half the stronger of the two sides.

Sluga was worked when Carter-Vickers flicked a corner towards the back post for King, whose hooked shot was parried away.

But it was the visitors who flew out of the traps at the start of the second half, with Asmir Begovic called into three brilliant saves in the space of a minute.

First, Glen Rea fired across goal but the Bosnian looked to have got a fingertip to the effort before it was cleared behind for a corner.

From there, the ball fell to Berry from six yards, but Begovic made a fine stop. And the keeper’s work was not done, springing up to deny Dewsbury-Hall’s fierce strike from outside the box on the follow-up.

Cherries then created their first chance of the half. King led the counter-attack and did well to get away from his man before slipping in Dominic Solanke. The striker slid the ball beyond Sluga, but defender Rea was on hand to slide in and thwart the effort.

Back came Luton, this time through Cornick, who showed good feet to twist his way past Carter-Vickers. However, his left-footed shot flew high and wide.

But the former Cherries man was involved to give the visitors the lead. Cornick knocked the ball to Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the box and the Leicester loanee curled a left-footed strike beyond Begovic and into the bottom corner, via a slight nick off a sliding Steve Cook.

Tindall instantly turned to his bench, bringing on Philip Billing, Sam Surridge and Kelly, before also throwing on Rodrigo Riquelme and Jaidon Anthony for the closing minutes.

Two of the subs almost combined for a late leveller with Kelly crossing for Riquelme, but the Spaniard’s volley was well saved by Sluga as Luton ground out their 1-0 win.

Cherries: Begovic; Carter-Vickers, S Cook, Rico (Billing, 70); Stacey (Kelly, 70), Lerma, L Cook, Brooks (Anthony, 82), Smith (Riquelme, 82); King (Surridge, 70), Solanke.

Unused subs: Mepham, Simpson, Kilkenny, Dennis (g/k).

Booked: Billing.

Sent off: Lerma (26).

Luton: Sluga; Lockyer (Naismith, 34), Rea, Bradley; Bree (Pearson, 87), Mpanzu, Berry, Dewsbury-Hall, Potts; Cornick (Clark, 77), Collins (Hylton, 87).

Unused subs: Moncur, Nombe, Morrell, LuaLua, Shea (g/k).

Booked: Hylton.

Referee: David Webb.