Match Reports

Another one slips away

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This match came just a little early for Paul Underwood to recover sufficiently from the hip injury sustained at Hillsborough on Tuesday, and so, Mike Newell gave Keith Keane his Championship debut, at left back, in an otherwise unchanged team.

Luton started very purposefully with a period of sustained pressure and might have been ahead as early as the 1st minute, when Carlos Edwards latched on to a Nicholls free kick and put in a strong shot. However, it was straight into the arms of Bo Myhill in the Hull goal. As Luton forced Hull City back, they gave warning that they are very quick on the break, when Coyne was forced to drag Parkin down, and Keith Andrews drove the ball over the crossbar from the resultant free kick.

Ahmet Brkovic might have scored in the eighth minute when the lively Edwards crossed well, but he took too long and the chance was gone, however, the home faithful didn?t have long to wait for the opening goal, as, from the clearance, Hull, again on the break, got the ball wide, but Keith Keane intercepted well, and slipped the ball to Brkovic to begin another attack. The ball fell to Vine, whose initial attempt was blocked but the ball came back to him, and he crossed for Keane, who had powered into space, to dive and head the ball firmly into the net.

Hull then won a corner, which was met by Leon Cort, but Foley cleared his header off the line, before Luton gained a corner of their own taken by Nicholls, and Brkovic had a great chance to increase the lead with a header, but he placed it wide.

Coyne was finding Parkin a handful, and after 14 minutes, he fouled him again. Andrews found Stuart Elliott, with the free kick and he drove the ball low into the net from outside the penalty area.

The possible turning point of the match saw a cross by Ahmet Brkovic blatantly handled by Welsh, but despite demonstrating that the ball had hit the arm of the defender the referee, Mr Friend, belied his name, and failed to award a penalty kick and waved play on.

Darryl Duffy fouled Markus Heikkinen, and, as Nicholls tried to take a quick free kick, Duffy prevented him from doing so and received the game?s first yellow card for his trouble. Nicholls tried to chip Myhill from the fee kick, but the keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar.

Three minutes of madness began when, against the general run of play, Hull caught Luton twice, on the break, to take the lead by 3-1.

With ten minutes to go until half time, Kevin Foley gave the ball away to Stuart Elliott, who was able to play a fierce ball across the Luton box and Darryl Duffy was there to fire home from close range. Then, in the 38th minute, Kevin Ellison exploited Keith Keane?s lack of experience, shrugged past his weak challenge and crossed for Parkin who gleefully shot home.

Luton had enjoyed the better of the possession but having squandered opportunities to be in front, found themselves staring at a 2 goal deficit at half time, because Hull City had taken their chances superbly.

Luton continued to dominate as the second half began, and again, they created the chances, but, for some reason, today they seemed to want too many touches, and were just not taking them. Rowan Vine showed at Hillsborough, on Tuesday evening, what can happen if you shoot early, and in 49th minute shot from outside the box, but Myhill was equal to it on this occasion. Steve Howard, still looking for his 100th Luton goal, shot over the bar from good position close in, a few minutes later.

In the 55th minute, Mike Newell sent for the Cavalry! An uncharacteristic triple substitution saw Dean Morgan, David Bell and Warren Feeney replace Brkovic, Showunmi and Vine. Brkovic and Showunmi were no surprise as they had lost their early impetus and were not featuring very much in the second half. However, Vine had looked sharp and had more to give. Bell and Morgan made an instant improvement to the Towns incisiveness, but alas things did not fall kindly for Feeney, who struggled to get into the match.

Chris Coyne had a header cleared off the line by Welsh and Kevin Nicholls shot from 15 yards but saw the effort deflected wide. In the 62nd minute, David Bell also had his shot deflected wide and Steve Howard shot from a tight angle but Myhill saved easily. Morgan was a man on a mission and left the crowd wondering what he has to do to get a starting place. His pace and skill brought numerous chances, but still the Town were not taking them.
David Bell showed that he has good control, reliable passing and a turn of pace of his own, and must have impressed Mike Newell by his contribution.

However, as Luton piled on the pressure the game was almost sealed, when Ellison got free and shot powerfully from 22 yards, and required Beresford to make the save of the match to keep the Town in it.

On 80 minutes, another surging run by Morgan wowed the crowd, as he mesmerised the Hull defence, got wide and crossed to lay what, on any other day, would have been a sitter for Feeney, but he shot wide from close in.

Despite all the Luton pressure, no reward was forthcoming until the 86th minute, when Chris Coyne rose to head another good cross from Carlos Edwards into the net. Luton set siege on the Hull City goal for the remainder of the game but it was too little, too late, and a beleaguered Hull City hung on for the points.

Luton are making an art form of losing 3-2 at home!

On the back of two successive wins, this was a confidence knocker ahead of a difficult trip to Preston North End, but with the enigma that is Luton Town, this season, don?t rule them out of surprising the Deepdale club and ending their unbeaten run which has stretched since Luton thrashed them at Kenilworth Road. Dean Morgan and David Bell must surely have impressed enough to stake firm claims for inclusion at the start of at one.

Manager Rating
Mike Newell – Luton Town – 8: Didn’t do a lot wrong, and had Luton been firing on all cylinders up front, could have been celebrating a win by a large margin.

Opponent Rating
Peter Taylor – Hull City – 9: Although it hurts me to say this as he is not my favourite manager in the world, he did his homework and exploited Luton’s weaknesses and his team made more of their limited opportunities than Luton did of their plentiful ones

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