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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
19:52 14th November 2009

GRAYS ATHELTIC 0-2 LUTON TOWN

The Hatters overcame blustery conditions to earn Richard Money a comfortable victory in his first league game in charge at lowly Grays Athletic. Heavy rain had put the Blue Square Premier match in some doubt an hour before kick-off with referee Steve Crieghton twice inspected the Recreation Ground pitch prior to kick-off. After the torrential rain subsided the game was finally given the go-ahead with well over a thousand Town fans outnumbering their Grays counterparts. The first half was affected by the wind so much that goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington's goal-kicks were failing to reach the halfway line while one Town corner from Kevin Nicholls swirled back so much the ball the skipper almost received the ball back unassisted. Grays failed to use the gusts to their advantage and the only time Pilkington was tested in the opening half was on 21 minutes when he palmed away Fola Onibuje's right-wing cross. Gradually, though, the Town got to grips with the difficult conditions and took the lead eight minutes before the interval. The influential Kevin Gallen, who scored twice at Rochdale on Wednesday, teed up Tom Craddock who was on hand to turn and convert a neat finish past the outstretched hand of Preston Edwards in the Grays goal for his sixth goal of the season. The Town soon took advantage of the wind just five minutes into the second half when Gallen notched his three goal in four days. Nicholls won the ball superbly in midfield and laid the ball back for the veteran striker who drilled a low shot past Edwards via a deflection. With the wind at their backs the Town were well in command and Pilkington was rarely extended into action. Money sent on striker Mark Nwokeji for Craddock but despite dominating the rest of half for long spells the Hatters were always in control to earn their fifth away league win of the season and fourth on the bounce.Full time from the Recreation Ground Grays Athletic 0 Luton Town 2 (Craddock 38, Gallen 50) Result FULL TIME Grays Athletic 0-2 Luton Town - It's all over here at the Rec and the Town have won on the road again. We'll have more reaction later tonight on lutontown.co.uk so stayed tuned. Get in! 90 mins - As time winds down we've got two additional minutes here before it's all over. 88 mins - Encouraging play from Nwokeji who looks direct and speedy. He picks up a pass from Nicholls in the left-hand channel but hits a fierce shot well wide of the target with Newton screaming for the ball at the back-post. 87 mins - It's keep ball by the Town at the moment and more good play from Gallen finds Newton on the egde of the area. The winger fires a left-foot shot at Edwards which takes the goalkeeper by surprise but he holds onto it well. 86 mins - The attendance of 1,668 is announced over the public address system. No official figure from Luton but it's at the very least 1,000. Super support. 85 mins - Half a chance for the hosts as centre-half Logumbe heads goalwards but it's a comfortable diving save for Pilkington and it stays 2-0. 81 mins - Lovely move from the Hatters involving Gallen, Nicholls and Nwokeji and Howells results in Keane getting a shot at goal but is effort from outside the area is blocked. 80 mins - Still not much to report here at the Rec and the Town are fully in command. Under these floodlights the pitch looks awful! 76 mins - The Hatters are still comfortable in control as Newton and Nwokeji combine superbly down the right-wing to see the former send a cross goal that is seized by Edwards. Good play. 71 mins - Second change for the Hatters as Gnakpa is replaced by Howells. The substitute goes over to the left-flank with Newton switching to the right. 69 mins - Almost 3-0 to the Town as Nicholls does brilliantly to win the ball in midfield and find Nwokeji. His vicious shot flashes across goal and Gallen gets on the end of it but is unable to turn the ball home at the back stick. Unlucky. 68 mins - Referee Creighton refuses to penalise Murray after it had looked like the Town left-back had felled striker Onibuje as he raced clear of the Hatters defence. The locals - those that are here - weren't happy. 66 mins - First change of the afternojon from Richard Money as goalscorer Craddock is replaced by debutant on-loan striker Mark Nwokeji. 64 mins - The hosts are certainly battling back and Onibuje and Davis are looking the most likely to reduce arrears but brave sliding tackles from White and Nichols quell the Blues' threat. 60 mins - Nearly a nervy moment for Edwards in the Grays goal as George Pilkington's right-wing cross gets caught in the wind and the ball drops right underneath the crossbar. That was close! 57 mins - Grays are trying to get back in to this but the Hatters have a chance to make it three when George Pilkington's raking pass finds Craddock one-on-one with Edwards but Edwards is quick off his line and clears his lines well kicking the ball into touch. 52 mins - Chance for the hosts to pull a goal back as Reed hopelessly blasts the ball well over Pilkington's crossbar after Onibuje's pull-back after he'd robbed Murray of the ball down the right touchline. A terrible miss. 50 mins  GOAL! Grays 0-2 HATTERS - The Town doubled their lead as Gallen grabs his third goal of the week when sending a deflected shot past Edwards from 12 yards. The wind gave the Town a throw down the right flank and Nicholls won possession and pulled the ball back for Gallen to make it two-zip. Get in! 47 mins - It's got absolutely nothing to do with the game but the golden gamble has just been announced over the public address system. The winner picks up £60. 46 mins - Grays get the second 45 under way and the Hatters have the wind with them now. 16:04 - The two sides are back on the pitch ready for the second half. It's got darker but the floodlights are on. COYH! HALF-TIME  Grays Athletic 0-1 Luton Town. It's half time here at the Rec and the Town have been battling against the wind and it's so far so good with a one goal lead thanks to Craddock's neat effort seven minutes before the interval. We hope you're enjoying the updates, check back for more in 15 minutes. 43 mins - We've just noticed the Grays goalkeeper is sporting a green Luton jersey with Gore on the back. Goes to show how much I've been paying attention. 41 mins - The Hatters look buoyed by that goal but Grays threaten to get back on level terms when Slabber, Cissoro and Davis combine well down the right and White has to head the ball behind for a corner. However, the wind scuppers a Grays chance as the ball goes out of play almost immediately after it has been kicked! 38 mins  GOAL! Grays 0-1 HATTERS - The Town have found away past the Grays defence and the wind and it's come from Craddock who turns an opportunitst strike past Edwards from six yards after taking a ball from Gallen. Nice finish. Keeper no chance. That's his first since open play since 1st September and his sixth of the season. Get in! 32 mins - Best football of the half from the Town as Craddock, on the stretch, can't guide the ball home following Newton's cross from the left. It was from patient build-up from the visitors with Keane, Newton, Nicholls, Gnakpa and Pilkington all involved as the Town moved the ball nicely from left-to-right. Unlucky. 29 mins - A Pilkington goalkick finally edges over the halfway line and as Gnakpa is fouled the Town win a free-kick, not that it will go far... 26 mins - First booking of the game is shown referee Creighton as he cards Crowther for a nasty challenge on Gnakpa. From the free-kick the wind again holds the ball up and a free-kick allows Grays to regain possession. 23 mins - The Town's first corner, down the left, is a farcial moment. Nicholls attempts to swing it in the box but the wind drags it back and it only just reaches the penalty area so strong was the gust. Hopefully the second half will be better. 22 mins - Talking of the flats, they have windows and balconies that offer residents a completely unobstructed view of the pitch. At the moment there are six additional spectators watching this game for nothing (well, they pay the rent I guess so it's not techically "free"...) 21 mins - First real action for Kevin Pilkington as he comes up to palm away Onibuje's right-wing cross. The ball drops invitingly for Reed but Nicholls is on hand to clear the danger. 20 mins - More evidence of the wind as Blackett's high clearance spins high, high into the air and over the flats on the opposite side of the pitch. That's cleared four storeys! 17 mins - More encouraging signs from the Hatters as they look to play some good stuff on the deck. Keane, Pilkington and Nicholls combine to try and set Gallen away but the Town skipper's pass is just a little too far ahead of the striker. 15 mins - It's been all the Town so far but they are finding it increasingly difficult against the gusts. Grays have yet to use it to their advantage... 12 mins - First chance of the game and it falls to the Haters as dark clouds gather overhead. Gnakpa does well to beat Cissoro and Bunce to feed Gallen but as he races through on goal, Edwards rushes off his line to save the striker's low shot as he slides across the wet turf. Hopefully more of the same to come. 10 mins - An example of the strength of the wind has just been highlighted as Kevin Pilkington's last two goal-kicks have failed to reach the halfway line. 8 mins - Absolutely no action to tell you about so far. The Town are coping well against the wind and Gallen is doing his best to pick out the long balls in the swirling wind with a his good touch. 5 mins - I better tell you how the side are lining up while I've got a chance. Pilkington (Kevin, that is) is in goal while, from right-to-left in defence are Pilkington (George), White, Blackett, Murray; in midfield Gnakpa, Nicholls, Keane, Newton; while up front are Craddock and Gallen. George Beavan, on-loan at the Rec, isn't included in Julian Dicks' 16-man squad. 3 mins - The wind is really howling around the Rec here and it's the Hatters who are kicking against it this half. Long balls are being picked up by the wind and are swirling back from there they come from. Very difficult conditions. 2 mins - I've finally settled down into the press box here and I can tell you the Town contingent is taking up three sides of the ground and its pretty clear that they are outnumbering the home fans. 1 min  We're off - with not a drop of rain in sight. Town in orange shirts and white shorts with Grays all in sky blue. COYH! 14:57 - We've finally been given the two teams and Richard Money had made six changes to the side that won at Rochdale on Wednesday. There's a debut for goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington between the sticks while Freddie Murray, Shane Blackett, Keith Keane, Adam Newton and Claude Gnakpa all come into the side. We're almost set here at a very blustery Recreation Ground. Sorry for the delay it's been a bit manic here...and wet! 14:20 First things first: the game is on...at the minute... Good afternoon all supporters to lutontown.co.uk to our text updates service as the Hatters look to bounce back to winning ways in the Blue Square Premier and build on their encouraging performances in the FA Cup that has seen them score five goals and progress past Rochdale in their previous two matches. After Wednesday night's fine win at Spotland, manager Richard Money is hoping he can guide the Town to victory in his first league game in charge against Grays Athletic. It's a thoroughly miserable afternoon in Essex and over the course of the afternoon, and in the run-up to kick-off, be sure to keep an eye on your official site as we'll have team news, minute-by-minute updates, reaction and match action for you. On lutontown.co.uk we'll have all the usual updates keeping you bang up-to-date with all the action - and in a number of ways. There's none of those boring ball-by-ball "defensive thrown-in taken by Luton left-back" updates as we continue to try and bring you an updated and detailed text commentary. This is a great way to keep in touch and has been popular to those supporters not able to get to a computer or a radio as the service is also available and is updated live on our WAP site. On Hatters Player you all have access to our live commentary. Due to circumstances out of our control we were unable to bring you our usual Player commentary at Rochdale but fear not: Simon "Statto" Pitts is back on the mic and he's here along side me ready to call home the shots. Of course after the action has finished, Hatters Player will have all the post-match interviews from all the men that matter this afternoon. Whether on Hatters Player or not, we'll have plenty of content to keep you interested as we'll have all of the post-match reaction as well as match action from Gareth Owen to follow after the final whistle. Be sure to check out www.hatterspics.co.uk - our brand new online image library. And if you want more and feel like interacting with us and fellow Town fans, don't forget we're also on twitter and Facebook so feel free to get involved! Join the updates and get in touch! Email andrew.barringer@2020mission.com during the game and we'll pick the best comments to go live on the site during our live updates. Enjoy the game. COYH!
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