Isaac Vassell netted an injury-time winner on his debut as the Bluebirds recovered from a late Luton Town equaliser to take all three points at home.
Returning to competitive action at Cardiff City Stadium, Neil Warnock made five changes to the starting line-up. Alex Smithies replaced the injured Neil Etheridge between the sticks, with deadline-day signing Marlon Pack making his debut in midfield. Fellow new recruits Gavin Whyte and Robert Glatzel came in for their first starts, whilst Callum Paterson returned to the fold after injury.
The Bluebirds made a blistering start and had two good chances inside the first five minutes. After strong work from Glatzel, the ball fell to Josh Murphy inside the area, though the winger curled just wide of the far post.
Murphy was again involved minutes later, firing narrowly wide from close range. From a Joe Ralls free-kick, Sean Morrison forced a fine save from Luton goalkeeper Simon Sluga. The Croatian international was at full stretch to deny the City skipper, who saw his powerful header tipped against the crossbar, before Aden Flint nodded over on the rebound.
Enjoying a lively first half on the left flank, Josh Murphy’s skill and pace proved too much for Martin Cranie to handle. The winger danced past his man out wide, before delivering a low ball across the box. Racing in from the opposite wing was Gavin Whyte, who was inches away from a connection.
Growing into the game, the Hatters began to look dangerous on the break, and had a good chance after thirty-six minutes. Good link-up play between Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Callum McManaman saw the latter turn the ball towards goal, forcing a good save from Smithies. The winger had another good opportunity just before the break, but headed over to send the sides in with the score level.
The Bluebirds took the lead six minutes into second half, with Flint getting off the mark for the Club. From the left, Murphy delivered an enticing free-kick towards the back post, with the two City centre-backs waiting to pounce. Flint got on the end of the ball, prodding home to open the scoring.
Against the run of play, Luton had a golden chance to equalise on the break. On the left flank, James Collins broke the line to race into the box, laying the ball back to the edge of the area. As McManaman was about to pull the trigger, goal-scorer Flint displayed his superb defensive qualities with an excellently-timed block and interception to avert the danger.
As the match moved into the final few minutes, Luton equalised through Matty Pearson. After Joe Ralls looked to have played the ball back off Mpanzu for a goal kick, a Luton corner was questionably awarded. The resulting delivery from Luke Berry was powerfully met by the defender - Pearson’s header seemingly rescuing a point for the Hatters.
Substitute Vassell was introduced, with Neil Warnock’s men giving their all in the hunt for a decider. In the final minute of stoppage time, Will Vaulks won a free-kick, allowing one final attack. Joe Ralls and Junior Hoilett did well to recycle the ball, with the Canadian floating a cross into the box. Vassell, who had found space in between two defenders, nodded instinctively past Sluga to snatch victory for City.
Full-Time: Cardiff City 2-1 Luton Town
Cardiff City: Smithies, Peltier, Morrison ©, Flint, Bennett, Pack, Ralls, Murphy (Hoilett 68’), Whyte (Vaulks 76’), Paterson, Glatzel (Vassell 90’).
Subs not used: Day, Nelson, Bacuna, Bogle.
Luton Town: Sluga, Cranie (Bree 74’), Bradley ©, Pearson, Potts, Butterfield (Berry 84’), Tunnicliffe, Mpanzu, Moncur (Cornick 55’), McManaman, Collins.
Subs not used: Shea, Galloway, Shinnie, Lee.