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Luton hang on for the points

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Matthew Barnes-Homer`s 37th minute goal was enough to give Luton the points at Barrow, despite the Bluebirds’ concerted efforts in the second half to get back into it. The home side will feel unlucky not to have got at least a draw from the match.

Luton began confidently, stroking the ball around and Drury gave the Barrow defence plenty to think about, but the home side looked dangerous on the break giving an air of a reversal in roles. Luton were playing like the home side and Barrow like the visitors. However Kroca and Pilkington mopped up anything through the middle and when Barrow got a sight of goal Tyler was always well placed to deal with it.

Barrow hadn’t scored in 312 minutes of football and the outcome was to add another 90 to that unwanted run. With Luton’s away form a little sketchy, quite the reverse of last season, a win was vital to stay in touch with the leaders.

Town boss Richard Money opted to bring back the fit again Drury at the expense of new man Morgan-Smith, but fielded an otherwise unchanged team, although Newton, who has been carrying a sore achilles for a couple of weeks confessed in the warm up that it was worse than it had been and dropped out leaving Geoffrey Poku to come in on the bench.

On 10 minutes Gnakpa was pulled back in the penalty area but unnecessarily went down to prove the point incurring a firm ‘no’ from referee, Mr Harrington, who was a breath of fresh air after the last one we had to suffer; Mr Harrington attempting to let the game flow and keep his cards in his pocket where possible, and showing remarkable consistency in his tolerance levels.

Drury tried one of his trademark curlers beating the keeper but just going slightly wide and high.

On the break Cook had a couple of half chances but couldn’t beat Tyler and despite squandering their usual volume of chances, Luton took the lead when a powerful run from Drury took him into the box and a slide rule pass to Barnes-Homer saw the striker hit a superb shot into the net from 20 yards, on 36 minutes.

The timing of the goal was very important because Rutherford had been giving Freddy Murray some worries down the flank, but fortunately the in form Jake Howells was doubling back to help him out whenever the Town lost possession. Young Jake has been a revelation recently and has been putting in some very hard working shifts.

However, the aforementioned Rutherford did get one very good cross in which should have brought an equaliser, but Wainwright’s celebration’s at the far post were cut short by an excellent save from Tyler at the expense of a corner.

In injury time, Drury had the chance to give the Hatters a two goal cushion but keeper Martin made a spectacular save at full length.

All credit to Barrow, they came out for the second half well up for the task and an early cross was met by Walker who curled it past the post, and a long distance free kick was struck goalwards by the same player requiring a careful dive from Tyler to keep the Hatters in front. Barrow had the benefit of a building wind in the second half and Luton were penned in their own half for quite long periods. Around the hour mark, Cook missed a great chance to score from another Rutherford cross, but then contrived to miss an even easier chance as Walker flicked on a long ball putting him clear, only for Cook to blast it over the bar.

Cook was getting into the right positions but his finishing was terrible, or the Town could have been 3 or 4 to 1 down.

On 70 minutes Tyler made a rare error of judgement coming off his line to try to lear a hopeful long ball and Walker was on to it in a flash and tried to head the ball from the high bounce over the Town keeper. Tyler got a touch to it taking off the power and it fell enticingly to Cook, who only needed to nod it into the empty net, but by the time he tried Gleeson had got back and cleared it off the line. This seemed to be the final straw for the Bluebirds’ boss who subbed him with 15 minutes left. The Town goal was leading a bit of a charmed life, and the team seemed unable or unwilling to get back into attacking mode. It was a dangerous game to play with the now swirling wind making judgement difficult.

However, the odd foray into Barrow territory was available on the break and one more goal would have sealed it, and it should have come when the Town broke forward with five minutes left, but with players available in support, and fewer defenders back, uncharacteristically, Drury telegraphed his pass, which was intercepted and it was almost catastrophic for the Hatters as Barrow came away with the ball and set up Spender, who hit it first time with immense power. It looked a certain goal before it hit a supporting teammate on the head and bounced to safety. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? 🙂

Surely Luton had weathered all that Barrow could muster, but no, there was still time for possibly the miss of the day when Barrow’s man of the match by a mile, Rutherford, put in another pinpoint cross onto the head of Jones, who had ghosted into the box completely unmarked, and he somehow managed to head the ball over the bar from well inside the six yard box!

Luton will be very pleased with the result, but by the end, they looked very weary and this does not auger well for the visit of Crawley Town on Tuesday. I hope they get plenty of rest between now and then!

Highlights for the Hatters: Drury was dangerous before running out of steam and debutant Poku came on for a 20 minute cameo, showing absolutely no visible fear or nerves, even going into a face to face confrontation with Edwards after being pulled down for the umpteenth time. He has speed, poise and real promise.

Luton ended up with four strikers in two positions – Morgan, Smith, Barnes and Homer.

k I’ll get me coat!



UTON TOWN: Mark Tyler, Dan Gleeson, George Pilkington, Zdenek Kroca, Freddie Murray, Andy Drury, Keith Keane, Jake Howells, Claude Gnakpa (Godfrey Poku, 66), Matthew Barnes-Homer (Taiwo Atieno, 76), Danny Crow (Amari Morgan-Smith, 60)

Unused subs: Kevin Pilkington, Shane Blackett

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