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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
19:04 23rd January 2010

GATESHEAD 0-1 LUTON TOWN

The Hatters had a mistake from home goalkeeper Paul Farman to thank as they were gifted their second successive victory in the Blue Square Premier in their first competitive fixture in three weeks. After Gateshead bossed the opening 15 minutes the Town gradually got on top and it was home the stopper's fumble of Claude Gnakpa's right-wing cross that edged over the line that ultimately proved to be the difference in a game low on quality. Back in August the Tynesiders shocked Kenilworth Road by taking the lead inside five minutes and the hosts almost got off to a perfect when Graeme Armstrong's left-wing cross came back off the Hatters' crossbar just 20 seconds in to proceedings. As Gateshead piled forward - fresh from having played in the FA Trophy on Tuesday - they should have taken the lead a minute later when Daryl Clare poked a tame shot straight at Kevin Pilkington from six yards after being found by Phil Turnbull's free-kick. It wasn't the ideal start from the Hatters but they gradually began to assert themselves amid the windy conditions Wingers Jake Howells and Gnakpa were the two who were causing the Tynesiders the most problems with the former having the Town's first shot on target on 15 minutes before being denied by Farman seven minutes later. On 24 minutes a swirling cross from Gnakpa that held-up in the wind was fumbled by Farman under pressure from Craddock but no Town man was on hand to knock home. However, four minutes later the ball was in the Gateshead net as in bizarre circumstances the Hatters took the lead through Gnakpa. The Frenchman battled his way down the right-flank after taking a pass from Rossi Jarvis and attempted a cross that only found Gateshead goalkeeper Farman. It looked as there was no problem for the home stopper as he went to collect what was a routine low cross but the ball inexplicably fell through his fingers, through his legs and squirmed over the line much to the embarrassment of the keeper. By all accounts it was a lucky strike but as the Town grew in confidence, Gnakpa blasted a shot at Farman as he sensed a second five minutes later before Gateshead ended the first half like they ended the first. Substitute Alex Francis drove a firm free-kick into the arms of Pilkington on 35 minutes before the Hatters goalkeeper had to be alert a minute later to stop Armstrong's header from nestling in the net. The second half began much like the first with Gateshead on top and the Town had to thank skipper George Pilkington to get in the way of Wayne Phillips' goal-bound shot on 47 minutes. Two minutes later Craddock and Matthew Barnes-Homer combined well to see the former head narrowly wide of Farman's right-hand post. Chances dried up for a good 25-minute spell before the hosts upped the ante in search of a leveller. Daryl Clare should have done much better on 76 minutes when sending a header straight up into the air when well placed before Wayne Phillips came even closer with a shot on the turn that flashed past the post five minutes later. It was hearts in mouth time for the Town faithful of 569 that had made the long journey with two chances for the hosts in the space of two minutes with Francis booming a volley just wide on 83 minutes and Phillips chancing his arm with an acrobatic effort moments later. Gateshead continued to press and could have almost snatched a late, late leveller three minutes into injury time but Asa Hall deflected Phillips' shot at the back-post behind for a corner. Result from the International Stadium Gateshead 0 Luton Town 1 (Gnakpa 28) Final score   FULL-TIME - Gateshead 0-1 Luton Town - A vital three points is earned...Keep it lutontown.co.uk for all the reaction and match action.   90+3 mins - That was close...the ball breaks to Phillips on the edge of the area after it has been headed on by Clare, and Hall is there to get in a crucial block to diver it behind for a corner. Blimey. Still 1-0. Just.   90 mins - We've got four additional minutes here to hold on...   87 mins - Third and final sub for the Town as Mark Nwokeji replaces Matthew Barnes-Homer.   85 mins - More pressure from the hosts as Phillips tries an acrobatic effort that is deflected behind for a corner. This isn't pretty.   83 mins - Another heart-stopping moment as Francis thumps a half-volley inches wide of the post for the hosts. They're getting closer. Meanwhile, activity on the Town bench as Craig Nelthorpe is introduced for his debut, replacing Craddock.   81 mins - The Town are living really dangerously at the minute as Phillips finds an inch of space in the six yard box to turn and send a shot just wide of the target. That was close. Still 1-0.   76 mins - Great chance for the hosts to level things up as Clare finds himself unmarked in the Town six-yard box to meet a Baxter free-kick but the striker can only head straight up into the air and Pilkington is able to collect easily.   70 mins - Still pretty even here and chances are drying up. A tempting Hall cross finds Craddock lurking at the back post but his header goes wide.   65 mins - It's all Gateshead now as the push for that equaliser. Pilkington has yet to be extended as right-back Baxter drives a shot well wide of the target much to the disappoinment of the home fans.   61 mins - The ball is in the Hatters net and they are lucky and relieved to see the lineman's flag go up as Francis's well-hit effort from the corner of the 18-yard box is deflected home by Clare who is standing in an offside position.   60 mins - A shot from Turnbull from 20 yards excites the home crowd as Gateshead push for a leveller. However, it's always rising as it flashes over the crossbar.   56 mins - Pretty evens stevens out there at the minute. Gateshead are trying to get going and the Hatters look threatening on the break.   55 mins - Claude's on the deck after being met by a meaty challenge from Francis but he gets to his feet ok despite looking decidely worse for wear.   51 mins - The attendance has just been handed to us, via text message. It's the International Stadium's highest of the season: 1,218 with a 569 from Luton - the largest away following of the season to visit this part of the North East.   49 mins - Back come the Town on the counter and superb skill and strength from Barnes-Homer sees the new striker cross for his partner Craddock who gets up above his marker to plant a header just wide of the right-hand post. Good stuff from the front two there.   47 mins - Just like the start of the first half, Gateshead have started well. Nimble footwork from Clare paves the way for Wayne Phillips who beats Gnakpa and fires a shot goalwards that his blocked by George Pilkington. I think that was heading for the bottom corner.   46 mins - We're back underway at the International Stadium and it's the Town who kick-off. There are no changes for either side at the interval.   HALF-TIME - Gateshead 0-1 Luton Town - It's half-time here at the International Stadium and a somewhat fortunate goal has given the Town the lead. One for the bloopers reel - whether it will see the light of day is another matter. All that does matter though is that the Hatters are 1-0 in front. Check back for more updates in 15 minutes.   45 mins - We've got an additional four minutes added time at the end of the first half as Gateshead force a succession of corners, the second of which narrowly creeps in...   42 mins - Back come Gateshead and Armstrong - who has impressed this half for the hosts - drives a shot narrowly wide of Pilkington's left-hand post. Not that the Town keeper was particularly worried about it!   40 mins - Half a chance for the Hatters as George Pilkington gets up at the back post to head just wide following Howells' right-wing cross.   36 mins - Another super chance for the hosts and the Town are indebted to Pilkington between the sticks again to pull off a save from a Armstrong's header - a free header - from six yards following Neale McDermott's right-wing free-kick. That was close. My word the Hatters are living dangerously.   35 mins - Kevin Pilkington's been largely untroubled for a good 20 minutes or so now but home sub Francis drills a well-hit free-kick through the Town wall straight into te gloves of the visiting stopper.   33 mins - Claude's now in the mood for a second. Poor defensive play from the hosts allows Craddock the ball and as the ball breaks to Gnakpa he lets fly with a shot that is deflected into the arms of Farman. No mishaps this time...   31 mins - Everyone's talking about the goal. If you're watching SkySports News or BBC or open the paper tomorrow and it's down as an own goal - it isn't. This is Claude's goal pure and simple. It was his cross - on target - that went through the keeper...We're certainly not taking it away from the Frenchman. Hardly magnifique...   28 mins  GOAL - Gateshead 0-1 HATTERS - Gateshead goalkeeper Farman will not want to see this one...Gnakpa, who has done terrifically well for the Hatters this half, turns his marker Mark Robinson and swings in what looks like a harmless cross...Farman gets down to smother the ball but inexplicably he lets it fumble through his hands and through his legs and its squirms over the line...Unbelievable. 1-0 Town.   26 mins - As I mentioned four minutes ago the Hatters are coming into this more and Gnakpa certainly has the bit between his teeth as he fires a shot from outside the area goalwards that Farman does well to hold onto, diving down to his left.   24 mins - Another chance of sorts for the Town as Jarvis releases Gnakpa down the right who runs down the flank with pace and delivers a high cross that is caught in the wind. Farman looks like he's going to claim it and make the catch but, under pressure from Craddock, he drops it. Unfortunatelty for the Hatters there's nobody there to turn the loose ball home so it stays 0-0.   22 mins - The Town are slowly finding their feet and beginning to dominate. Howells has looked lively and he is denied a shot at goal by a brave block from Farman after being put through by Craddock's pass. That's better.   19 mins - There's been a two-minute stoppage in play as Gateshead skipper Kris Gate is carried off the pitch with what looks a serious injury. He's replaced by Alex Francis.   16 mins - With that change the Town are lining up with Kevin Pilkington in goal; a back four of (right-to-left) Newton, Keane, George Pilkington and Freddie Murray; in midfield Gnakpa, Jarvis, Hall and Howells with Barnes-Homer and Craddock up-top.   15 mins - The first shot on target for the Hatters comes after a quarter-of-an-hour as Jake Howells sees his curling left-foot shot held by Farman after Craddock had been dispossessed on the edge of the penalty area.   14 mins - Early change for the Town as Blackett is replaced by Adam Newton. Blackett had gone down looking rather groggy after coming off worse challenging Clare.   9 mins - Half a chance for the Hatters - their first real foray into the Gateshead half - as Tom Craddock hunts down a Rikki Bains backpass that home goalkeeper Paul Farman takes an age to kick. His time-keeping almosts costs him as Craddock gets a touch on it but it's not enough and the ball goes, fortunately for the hosts, behind for a goal-kick.   9 mins - Plenty of typing so far...Not much to talk about from the Town yet. It's all Gateshead. The Tynesiders did play during the week against Chippenham but that said the Hatters were put through their paces in a behind closed doors game and a reserve match.   7 mins - Early booking for Shane Blackett as the Hatters continue to struggle to cope with the hosts bright start. He's adjudged to have tripped Armstrong. From the resulting free-kick from Phillips, the Town half clear the danger but straight to home skipper Kris Gate who catches a fine volley on the full that looks good but is comfortably caught by Pilkington.   2 mins - They've hit the woodwork and now they test Kevin Pilkington as the Town are all over the shop at the back at the minute. Phil Turnbull centres a nice pass into the path of Daryl Clare - who has been on fire for the Heed since joining Mansfield - but the striker can only poke a shot straight at the Hatters' stopper. Gateshead are looking dangerous. Very dangerous. Lucky to still be 0-0...   1 min - Huge early scare for the Town, just like at Kenilworth Road earlier in the season as with just 20 seconds on the clock Graeme Armstrong robs Claude Gnakpa of the ball down the right and whips in a vicious cross that eludes everyone and hits the Hatters' crossbar. It would have been a real fluke but that's not the start we had in mind.   1 min  And we're off - after 21 days referee Richard West gets a Luton game underway with Gateshead kicking off.   14:58 MINUTES' SILENCE   14:56 HERE THEY COME   Out come the two sides onto the pitch. It's difficult to guage how many fans are inside the ground. There's a healthly following from the Town who applaud the lads after the obligatory handshakes. We're almost set here at the International Stadium. Keep in touch, get involved and enjoy the updates! COYH!   14:50 NUMBERS GAME   Flicking through the Tynesiders' matchday programme, we've noticed the highest gate at the International Stadium so far this term is 1,174 for the visit of York on 25th August. The Minstermen brought 492 that day...Oxford have brought the most to Gateshead - 548. At the other end of the spectrum, their lowest attendance was just 409 when Rushden were in Town on a Tuesday night in September. Both Eastbourne and Grays have brought 13 here...    14:40 TEAM NEWS - FOUR CHANGES   Hatters' boss Richard Money makes four changes to the side that started the FA Cup defeat at Southampton 21 days ago.   Out go injured duo Kevin Gallen and Kevin Nicholls, Adam Newton and Ed Asafu-Adjaye and in come Claude Gnakpa, Freddie Murray, Keith Keane and Matthew Barnes-Homer.   George Pilkington is named as the skipper.   New arrivals Godfrey Poku and Craig Nelthorpe are on the bench.   Hatters: K. Pilkington; Blackett, Pilkington (C), Gnakpa, Howells, Murray, Hall, Jarvis, Keane, Barnes-Homer, Craddock.   Substitutes: Gore, Nwokeji, Newton, Nelthorpe, Poku.   Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Robinson, Gate (C), Curtis, Turnbull, Armstrong, Phillips, McDermott, Bains, Clare.   Substitutes: Provett, Jones, Richardson, Francis, Williams.     14:15 THE FUTURE'S BRIGHT The Hatters will be playing in their home strip of orange shirts and white shorts and socks. Gateshead will be in their traditional white shirts and black shorts and socks. 14:00 IT'S THE DON VALLEY BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT The International Stadium is, as the name suggests, an international venue. For athletics. It's very much like the Don Valley Stadium but the seats are red here and not white. The section of seating where the Hatters fans will be sitting looks very isolated on the far side with the tape marking out the allocation flickering in the biting wind. 13:50 WARM INSIDE, COLD OUTSIDE The written press have been given their own room to watch the game from. The heating is on and the view is excellent. Radio boys are out with the supporters bracing the elements - and there's a very cold wind whistling across the opening International Stadium. They'll need to wrap up warm. 13:45 UNDER-18s DEFEATED Bad news to start the day with as Martin Prickett's Under-18s have lost this morning to Northampton in the Youth Alliance 3-0. 11:45 WELCOME STRANGER It's been a while, hasn't it? Three long, barren football-less weeks. But today football is back! The Hatters are finally in action as they make the 500-mile round-trip to newly promoted Gateshead for their first Blue Square Premier fixture since 28th December when four goals saw off Eastbourne Borough. Remember that? Today marks the beginning of the Town's second half of the season as they look to push on towards their aim of bouncing back to the Football League at the first attempt. Ian Bogie's Tynesiders lie between the Hatters and three points this afternoon. They currently occupy the final relegation place in the BSP but the Hatters must be wary after 21 days with a game against a side who impressed everyone with their display at Kenilworth Road back in August, Plenty of Hatters fans have made the long journey to the North East for this important game but if you can't make it, then fear not: at 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. Remember, Player is available as ever which means you all have access to our live commentary. If you haven't heard it yet then where you have been? It's brought to you by Simon "Statto" Pitts - who is quickly making a name for himself with commentary that is the envy of all the competition. We're once again grateful for our counterparts at Gateshead for allowing us to use their facilities to enable the DiverseFM and Luton Town media partnership to broadcast around the globe on Player. Of course after the action has finished, Hatters Player will have all the post-match interviews from all the men that matter today. 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. Remember, we want you to get in touch. Join the updates and get in touch! Email andrew.barringer@lutontown.co.uk and we'll pick the best comments to go live on the site during our live updates. Don't forget we're also on twitter and Facebook so feel free to interact with your fellow fans online. Enjoy the game. COYH!
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