Luton start new year with a win

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The Town started the New Year with a secure victory over near neighbours Rushden and Diamonds with their third League win in a row, and their sixth win from their last seven BSPL matches.

With their last outing being the aborted Home match against York City, the last completed league match was way back on 20th November so it was good to see the Hatters begin solidly and play some flowing football even if a little sporadically.

ushden were playing their first match following the sad death of their goalkeeper Dale Roberts and there was a minutes silence to remember both the young keeper and former Town stalwart Terry Branston who also passed away recently. It is pleasing to report that the silence was meticulously kept by all supporters.

Dan Gleeson returned to the team for Luton and Joe Day took his place between the sticks for Rushden, who had retired the no 1 shirt in honour of young Dale Roberts.

Amari Morgan-Smith played with a guard over his fractured cheekbone, and the game started with Luton looking very bright and with Rushden in total defensive mode. Luton made little impression in the final third and on 8 minutes the first real chance fell to Rushden when Power hit a power drive (sorry) from way outside the box which drew a sharp save from Mark Tyler.

Luton responded with Crow being put through by AMS but the keeper did well to save.

Andy Drury took possession in central midfield and went on a mission leaving several opponents in his wake and then slipped it to Gnakpa who hit a superb curling drive past the hapless keeper and into the top corner of the net only to see an assistant referee with his flag mysteriously raised for a dubious offside.

uton were however taking control of the game and Rushden were still reluctant to come out of their defensive shell.

Barnes-Homer hit a decent enough drive goalwards drawing a save out of Day to the cat calls of an annoying supporter two rows down from me who spent the entire first 30 minutes shouting how useless MBH was, and shouts of sit down and be quiet were merely met by Mr Annoying’s finger gestures!

Rushden came forward on a few occasions but were mainly dispossessed before any danger to Mark Tyler’s goal.

Luton alternated between sparkling forward play and wasteful surrender of possession but overall were bossing the game and there only looked like one team would score and the goal came just as Diamonds must have thought they had weathered the first half at 0-0. On 44 minutes, Crow with his back to goal turned and passed to Gnakpa who went to the bye line and although attended by an opponent he managed to clip the ball in perfectly onto the head of MBH who beat the keeper with his header. Mr Annoying was now shouting how good MBH was!

Luton again started the second half well and 4 minutes in MBH was given space by Crow and should have hit the target but the fans high behind the goal were in more danger than Day’s goal when the ball ricocheted around the stand behind them. (MBH was now rubbish again!)

Seven minutes later Drury found MBH in space and a little shuffle and drag beat one defender each leaving the striker to arrow a shot past Day for a 2-0 lead. (No prizes for guessing Mr Annoying’s reaction now!)

Uncharacteristically, Luton were almost caught asleep immediately following the second goal and O’Connor was left unmarked in the penalty area to head over from inside the 6 yard area as Town defenders pointed accusingly at each other and Tyler had a few gentle words with all and sundry around him!

Rushden were really broken and did little to threaten and Luton looked more likely to add to the lead than the visitors did to reduce it.

The game was finally put to bed on 75 minutes when Barnes-Home threaded a pass to Crow who seemed to leave it, possibly because he thought he was offside, but Gnakpa ran onto it and slid a neat shot into the net.

There were a couple of chances in the last few minutes and MBH might have completed a hat trick but Day was equal to the best of these efforts and the crowd went home happy, and with Mr Annoying probably dancing down Hazlebury Crescent singing ‘Matthew Barnes-Homer’ to the tune of ‘Guantanamera’!

Crawley and Wimbledon both had easy wins but Newport lost in the dying seconds at home to Bath City to allow Luton to reclaim third place in the table.

Next up Hayes & Yeading away on Tuesday 4 January KO 7-45pm

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