Date:Saturday August 21 2010
A thoroughly professional Hatters performance saw them demolish their hosts at Highbury this afternoon. Matthew Barnes-Homer opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Claude Gnakpa doubled the lead on 22 minutes. With Luton in full charge for most of the remainder of the match, Tom Craddock sealed the win with a late header and made his point to the manager in the process, although the manager may feel it was his own point which was made!
Although Richard Money ridiculed the idea of a squad rotation policy as such, Kevin Gallen and Adam Murray were rested in favour of Danny Crow and Pavel Besta, and Pilks the Gloves made way for Mark Tyler in goal, as Money exploited the luxury of having players for most positions that can come in without significantly weakening his team. He can protect some players from over working and ensure others get match practice and stay sharp. It is some years since a Luton Town manager had such a luxury!
After being dropped from the squad against Kettering, Tom Craddock regained his place on the bench.
Luton opened with some attacking ideas and the speed of their midfield mobility and forward play led to a number of agricultural challenges by Fleetwood as they struggled to match the pace of the Hatters. Nathan Pond opened the scoring in the referee's notepad early on after he clattered Keane, which was to be the first of many questionable challenges to come.
Drury continued to look like scoring without actually doing so, having an early shot blocked and another easily saved by the home keeper as the fluidity of the Town attack caused nightmares in the Fleetwood defence.
Gnakpa hit a good chance wide on 13 minutes but the first goal was not far away. A minute later, Gnakpa skinned Grand and pulled back a pin point pass for MBH to slot coolly home for a 1-0 lead.
On 22 minutes a Linwood error let Gnakpa in again, this time feinting a pass and dropping his shoulder to go past Hurst and fire powerfully into the net himself. 2-0!
It looked like the floodgates were about to open but, to their credit, Fleetwood rallied and started to attack the Hatters and Craney found Curtis in front of goal but his header was saved by Tyler. However, the near miss spurred them into more forays forward and for about ten minutes the Hatters' defence was fully employed dealing with the threat.
As Luton regained their ascendency, Crow was viciously hacked down by Linwood who was very lucky to see only yellow for the offence, but more of the same was to follow.
Gnakpa committed a similar challenge on Simon Grand and again the referee leniently showed him a similar yellow card for an offence that even had the Hatters fans sucking in their breath. Tempers were getting frayed, and as the tiny Danny Crow confronted Linwood for getting involved in the confrontation after Gnakpa's yellow card, no doubt informing him of the old saying about the pot and kettle, Linwood responded by pushing Crow in the face, a silly thing to do at any time but obviously terminal when you are already cautioned. The second yellow and following red cards were duly waved at Linwood, and for the second match runnin, Luton found themselves facing ten men.
Despite their numerical advantage, Luton were unable to run away with the game due to some stalwart defending, particularly by McNulty, and also due to Luton cruising with the two goal lead, and determined not to concede. On numerous occasions today, when Fleetwood were counter-attacking, almost every Luton player, (obviously not Claude, behave yourselves!) sprinted back to help and as the game wore on, it was apparent that the Hatters players are extremely fit, in comparison to all three teams we have met so far.
As first half time was running out Luton looked capable of a further goal and a great move involving MBH, Danny Crow and Andy Drury saw the latter chip in a great cross to the far post for Crow, but the little man was just a toenail short of reaching it.
Giant defender Kroca innocuously tripped Vieira who did him for pace and another Yellow card followed, probably after crowd pressure but it was 2-0 at the break.
With Claude already cautioned and the crowd baying at every challenge for a red card to equal up the numbers, Richard Money perhaps wisely removed him from the contest, with Newton and Howells on the bench. He opted for Howells down the left and moved Drury right where he continued to be a handful all afternoon. The lad is different class at this level and Stevenage must have been gutted to lose him.
Howells announced his arrival getting on the end of a beautiful Hatters move and driving the ball onto the underside of the bar, but it bounced out rather than in and deserved better.
Luton continued to alternate between dominating play in their opponents' half and defending stoutly as they countered.
Drury again shot straight at Hurst after being fed by MBH and another shot by Barnes- Homer himself disappeared over the goal and enclosure into some gardens.
Craney should have tested Tyler when well placed but he seemed so surprised to get the opportunity that he snatched at it and another ball went high out of the ground.
Luton sat back a bit and stroked the ball around without too much forward purpose and I am surprised the thousand or so Hatters fans didn't start a chorus of oles. This changed with the arrival of Tom Craddock who had his point to prove and he almost made it immediately with a fantastic curling drive which Hurst did well to see let alone save, which he did. Luton had woken up and began to seek another goal. Straight from a corner to Fleetwood, they broke away and MBH found Besta, who had acres to run into but looked strangely reluctant go forward too far, so he laid it into the run of Drury who hit a screamer, which was too hot for the keeper to catch but he beat it down. McNulty was first to react as it bounced high from the save. He was able to bring it down off his chest and hoof it miles in one movement.
McNulty then tackled Murray in the penalty area and the Hatters man went down far too easily and quite rightly did not con the referee for a penalty kick, and the match looked well won in the dying minutes despite one effort from distance by Barry.
Luton might have scored through MBH, and Drury again, as well as Craddock but, with two minutes left, McNulty and MBH were challenging for the ball on the edge of the home penalty area with feet flying everywhere. It was the Luton man who prevailed and got it out to Drury who chipped a perfect ball to the far post where Craddock was unmarked and could dive theatrically to head home the third and seal a very well deserved and comprehensive victory.
Fleetwood had started the season well and in midweek thrashed Mansfield 3-0 on the same ground, so this was a very good result for the Hatters.
Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Dan Gleeson,Zdenek Kroca, George Pilkington, Freddie Murray, Claude Gnakpa (Jake Howells 46), Keith Keane, Pavel Besta, Andy Drury, Danny Crow (Tom Craddock 62), Matthew Barnes-Homer.
Substitutes not used:
Adam Newton, Adam Murray, Kevin Pilkington.
Date:Saturday August 21 2010
Hatters Sign Duo (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Hatters Sign Tigers Striker (Sunday May 19 2013)
Luton to Entertain Aston Villa (Friday May 17 2013)
Tyler`s Staying (Friday May 17 2013)
I Wish It Was Us! (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Favourites (Again)! (Monday May 13 2013)
Keeper Ranks Bolstered (Monday May 13 2013)
Nielson Finds New Club (Monday May 13 2013)
Welcome to the Mad World! (Monday May 13 2013)
I Felt Physically Sick! (Monday May 13 2013)
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