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12:36 22nd March 2010


The Hatters scored six goals away from home for the first time in 46 years as they came from behind to earn their fifth straight victory by crushing Ebbsfleet and leap into second place in the Blue Square Premier. Frenchman Claude Gnakpa led the way with a stunning hat-trick while strikers Kevin Gallen, Tom Craddock and Matthew Barnes-Homer were all on target as the Town scored half-a-dozen goals all in the second 45 minutes. What was even more remarkable was that the Town trailed at the break. Miscommunication between Mark Tyler and Janos Kovacs led to the Hungarian centre-half poking the ball past his advancing goalkeeper on 23 minutes. With the rain lashing down and the wind swirling around Stonebridge Road, the Town failed to call home stopper Lance Cronin into any meaningful action in the first 45 despite having the lion's share of the play. Going in at the interval 1-0 down, whatever manager Richard Money said at half-time it produced the desired effect as the visitors came out all guns blazing forcing a succession of corners and free-kicks which caused confusion in the Ebbsfleet penalty area but failed to produce an equaliser. However, Fleet weren't so lucky on 49 minutes when the Hatters did find a leveller when Keith Keane's right-wing corner was headed powerfully home by Gnakpa from 12 yards to get the ball rolling. Liam Daish's side didn't know what had hit them and - 60 seconds later - incredibly - the Town took the lead when a quick throw from Ed Asafu-Adjaye was flicked on by Craddock into the path of Gallen who fired home first time beyond Cronin from eight yards to send the travelling thousands in to raptures. With the Money's men pinning back the hosts, it only seemed a matter of time before the Hatters would increase their advantage and lo and behold the third duly arrived on 66 minutes when Craddock notched his 15th of the season, and his fifth goal in five games, by finishing smartly to drive the ball first-time past Cronin following Jake Howells' left-wing cross. Five minutes later Gallen and Craddock combined well in the penalty area that saw the former shoot straight at Cronin but the wonderful travelling support didn't have to wait long to be celebrating again as another two-goal salvo in the space of 60 seconds arrived on 76 minutes which saw Gnakpa complete his hat-trick. Firstly, the Frenchman glanced an inch-perfect Howells cross from the left flank into the corner of the net from just inside the penalty area. Then, straight from the kick-off, Craddock robbed Ebbsfleet of the ball, drove into the penalty and squared for Simon Heslop whose shot was saved and cleared off the line with Gallen unable to tuck the ball home. Ebbsfleet eventually managed to half-clear but the ball fell kindly for Gnakpa who smashed it back goalwards past a sea of bodies to make it five. At that stage, with time running out, it looked like the Town had declared at five having run the Fleet ragged but substitute Barnes-Homer had other ideas. Taking a long pass forward from fellow sub Shane Blackett, the forward shrugged off the challenge of Darius Charles, steadied himself before cooly slotting the ball past Cronin for the Hatters' sixth of an amazing afternoon and earn the biggest cheer of the day. 1-0 down, 6-1 up. Claude hat-trick? Who would have thought it at half-time? Things are getting interesting now. And with two home games on the bounce make sure you get down to Kenilworth Road. Keep believing.
For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Full-time from Stonebridge Road Ebbsfleet United 1 (Kovacs og 23) Luton Town 6 (Gnakpa 49, 76, 77 Gallen 50, Craddock 66, Barnes-Homer 90) Final score FULL-TIME EBBSFLEET UNITED 1-6 LUTON TOWN - INCREDIBLE - All the reaction to come. 90 + 3 mins  Ebbsfleet 1-6 HATTERS - Incredibly, Blackett's long ball forward finds Barnes-Homer who wrestles Charles off the ball and finishes past Cronin for an incredible sixth. GET IN 90 + 1 mins - Turn and shot from Ashikodi as the Fleet push for a consolation but the striker can only drag his effort wide. 90 mins - Can we get a sixth? We've got three additional minutes to do so... 89 mins - Still 5-1, gaps continue appear in the home defence as Howells races through and sees a shot saved by the legs of Cronin after taking a pass from MBH. Unlucky. Howells deserves to get one. 85 mins Make that the second as Blackett comes on for Kovacs. 82 mins  First change for the Town as Gallen is replaced by Barnes-Homer. Both receive a warm round of applause with Gallen eventually waving to the Hatters fans who asked him to. 78 mins - Ok, where do we start. I'm not making this up - it's 5-1 to the Town and Claude's got a hat-trick! Firstly the Frenchman glanced a header home from Howells' left-wing cross. Then, a minute later, Craddock races down the right, squares to Heslop who has his shot cleared off the line with Gallen not quite able to poke the loose ball home. However, Ebbsfleet clear it straight to Gnakpa who smashes the ball into the bottom corner to make it five. 77 mins  GOAL!! Ebbsfleet 1-5 HATTERS - Gnakpa 76 mins GOAL!!! Ebbsfleet 1-4 HATTERS - Gnakpa 71 mins - Good chance for 4-1 as the front two combine well tight on the byline. Gallen gets a one-two back from Craddock but the veteran's left-footb shot is saved by Cronin at close range. Unlucky. 66 mins  GOAL! Ebbsfleet 1-3 HATTERS - Who have thought this 21 minutes ago? A super move begins with Keane winning the ball in the middle, spraying the ball wide to Howells down the left. He sends in a beautiful cross straight into the path of Craddock who strikes first-time beyond Cronin for his 15th of the season. Get in! 65 mins - Ebbsfleet break forward for the first time in the half with Holmes who finds Shakes who wins a corner. From it, a melee ensues a with Bailey and Ashikodi ready to pull the trigger some breave blocking and an eventual clearance from Gnakpa saves the Town. 61 mins - Still at the Hatters as Ebbsfleet can hardly get out of their own half. The Town are working harder, defending better and look full of purpose and poise going forward. What a transformation. 58 mins - Should be 3-1. Gnakpa hurdles the challenge of Collins and picks out Craddock all alone in the penalty area with a stunning pass, however the striker decides to hit it first time and the ball skies well over the crossbar. 55 mins - The Hatters are well on top and are hunting a third. Gallen's strike, his third in two games as put smiles on the travelling faithful who are now in full voice. 51 mins - Time to tell you about this as the Hatters ow have the lead in an amazing turnaround at the start of this second half. For the leveller, Keane's curling right-wing corner was met by a powerful header from Gnakpa and then, unbelievably, from an Asafu-Adjaye throw, flicked on by Craddock, Gallen whacks home a super finish past Cronin. GET IN! 50 mins  GOAL!! Ebbsfleet 1-2 HATTERS - Gallen 49 mins GOAL! Ebbsfleet 1-1 HATTERS - Gnakpa 47 mins - Good early pressure from the Town as a succession of corners and cross beginning to rain down on the Ebbfleet penalty area. 46 mins - No changes for either side at the break as Money has a quick word with Kovacs before they restart. 46 mins The two sides are back on the Stonebridge Road pitch and at least it's stopped raining. It's Ebbsfleet who get us underway with the Hatters now attacking the end where some of the away support is standing. HALF-TIME EBBSFLEET UNITED 1-0 LUTON TOWN - Referee Whitton calls time on the first 45 minutes. Not good so far. Check back in 15 minutes for all the second half updates. 45 mins - We've got two additional minutes here before half-time. 44 mins - The Hatters need benefit from an own goal at the right end this time. Good play between Gallen and Howells down the left sees Murray win a corner from which Keane can only find the near-post but as Bailey goes to clear he gets it all wrong, sending the ball spinning the wrong way but gratefully into the arms of Cronin. 42 mins - Not long to the break now and at this rate Money is going to have stern words in the Hatters' dressing room. 39 mins - Back come the Town as Heslop plays a lovely through-pass into the path of Gnakpa down the right. However, Cronin has spotted the danger early and races out of his goal well to clear his lines. 38 mins - Ebbsfleet continue to worry the Hatters as Vieira races down the left, beating Asafu-Adjaye but his cross is poor when he was probably caught in two minds as to whether to shoot or cross. 33 mins - My description of the goal is probably a bit weak given the fact I was head down typing. It was an innoucous ball lofted into the penalty area that Kovacs got a boot to as Tyler came to claim for it. All down to communication. 31 mins - Better from the Town again as the rain gets heavier. Heslop breaks through the centre of midfield and threads Craddock through on goal. The striker rides the challenge of Collins but shoots just past Cronin's left-hand-post. The home keeper hasn't been tested yet. 24 mins - A frustrating afternoon so far for the Hatters as Gnakpa does well down the right but he whacks a well-hit shot inches past Cronin's post. That was almost one a piece. Unlucky. 23 mins  GOAL EBBSFLEET 1-0 Hatters - Bad news for the Town as the host lead through a Kovacs own goal, heading past Tyler could tried to scramble back and clear but couldn't. 22 mins - Almost 1-0 to Ebbsfleet as Tyler has to get down to save Crooks shot after Bailey's mis-hit effort had found his team-mate. 21 mins - Chance for the Town. Gallen feeds Howells through on the goal but it falls on the youngster's right-foot so instead of shooting he squares to Craddock but as the ball whizzes across the box Craddock is there but before he can tap home Shakes is on hand to clear. 17 mins - Another ball out of the ground but this time it's at the other end as Ashikodi balloons an ambitious effort way over Tyler's goal That went higher than Claude's shot. 15 mins - As the gloom decends, the floodlights are on... 13 mins - Back come the hosts as from goalkeeper Cronin's long kick downfield, Vieira is first to it, drives forward and tries his luck from distance with a left-foot shot that isn't far away. 11 mins - The Town are upping it now but they wont want to see an effort like that again as Craddock's flick-on finds Gallen who touches square to Gnakpa but the Frenchman looks up and, 25 yards out, goes for goal but he can only thump the ball way, way over the crossbar and it eventually goes out of the ground. 10 mins - Honestly, not much to report but then the Hatter win a corner as Gallen gallops on to Ed's raking ball forward but Keane's corner eludes everyone. That was better play. 4 mins - It has been a pretty low key start from both sides so far. However, the Hatters have been marginally on top. 4 mins - The rain is getting finer and the wind is swirling it around the ground - mostly on to our laptop screens! 3 mins - First foray forward for Claude down the right as he beat left-back Collins for pace but his cross has too much on it and the ball drifts behind for a goal-kick. 2 mins - As it's the same side as last Tuesday, the Town are lining-up exactly the same. Tyler in goal, a back four of Murray, Pilkington, Kovacs and Asafu-Adjaye, a midfield of Howell, Heslop, Keane and Gnakpa with Craddock and Gallen up top. 1 min And we're off here at Stonebridge Road as the Hatters kick-off. The hosts will be kicking towards the open terrace where some of the Town fans are standing. COYH. 14:58 ALMOST SET Enjoy the updates. Come on you Hatters! 14:56 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides onto the pitch. The Hatters are in their away strip of white shirts, navy blue shorts and socks with Ebbsfleet in their red home shirts. Keith Keane and Peter Holmes both embrace after the handshakes. 14:53 IN THEY COME Still more Hatters fans make their way through the Stonebridge Road turnstiles. The pub isn't far away either so I expect some more to filter through as kick-off approaches. 14:51 MODERN TECHNOLOGY... The PA announcer has just notified the crowd that the electronic substitute board isn't going to be in action this afternoon. There's a crowd of five or so desperately trying to get the thing to work down below us. It looks like it will be the old fashioned numbers board. 14:50 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 3-0 Luton. Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton. Mark Wood: 2-0 Luton. Ian Pearce: 2-0 Luton. Bill Cole: 3-0 Luton. Euan Duncan: 3-2 Luton. 14:42 CAPTAIN HOOK Ebbsfleet's nickname is the Fleet. Therefore the marketing bods at Stonebridge Road have decided that a Captain Hook dressed in their red shirts could be their mascot. Complete with hook. Honestly. 14:35 GOOD LUCK Manager Richard Money is watching his players warm-up in the sanctuary of the away dugout. Chairman Nick Owen spots him and wishes him the best of luck ahead of what is a crucial game. 14:30 STILL RAINING Laptops are getting wetter, fans more bedraggled and we're still 30 minutes from kick-off. 14:15 UNCHANGED Hatters boss Richard Money keeps the faith with the same side that beat Kidderminster 3-1 on Tuesday night. However there is one change on the bench as Adam Newton retunrns from a hamstring injury. For Liam Daish's, he names former Hatters Peter Holmes in midfield. He'll skipper the Fleet this afternoon. Hatters: Tyler, Asafu-Adjaye, Kovacs, Pilkington, Murray, Keane, Heslop, Gnakpa, Howells, Craddock, Gallen. Subs: Gore, Blackett, Hall, Barnes-Homer, Newton. Ebbsfleet: Cronin, Collins, Heeroo, Vieira, Ashikodi, Stavrinou, Shakes, Crooks, Bailey, Charles, Holmes. Subs: Salmon, West, Welsh, Ginty, Wills. 14:12 UNDER THE ROOF With the weather the way it is all the Hatters fans that are inside the ground have made a bee-line for the covered section of terrace on the far side. It's going to be a bit cramped over there later on. As it stand there are Town supporters on three sides of Stonebridge Road at the minute with about 15 or so braving the elements of the open terrace. 14:05 WEATHER WATCH We're here at Stonebridge Road and it's wet. It's not that it's pouring down, it's just that it's that really fine stuff. The press boys are sitting on the front row of the Main Stand and we've already had to mop up the damp off the benches, seats and now it looks like we'll have to do the same with our laptop screens. 12:35 REVENGE MISSION? Richard Money was far from happy the last time the Town met Ebbsfleet United. "I am just as embarrassed, angry, low and frustrated as they are feeling right now," he said after the 3-2 defeat at Kenilworth Road on 30th January. "I usually always try and finding something good to draw on and I'm a manager who likes to defend his players. "But today they are totally indefensible, it was unacceptable. "I've been in football since I was 16 but I cannot remember feeling so low, or angry, frustrated and disappointment as I feel right now."  Since then the Hatters have won seven of their last 11 matches and this afternoon travel to Ebbsfleet United look to avenge that disappointing defeat while at the same time rack up win number five on the bounce. With Stevenage in FA Trophy action and Oxford not due to play until Sunday at Tamworth, a win for Money's side would put them second in the table and two points behind the leaders. Three points would increase the pressure on the top two and further cement the Town's chance of finishing in the BSP's top five. But let's not get too carried away, eh? There was a certain amount of excitement the last time the Hatters got on a winning run and that was duly ended by Ebbsfleet on that hugely frustrating January afternoon. The Fleet are still in decent form but still find themselves in a relegation battle so will need the points as much as the Town this afternoon. Money sternly told the media yesterday that the players have been made well aware of what he expects from them at Stonebridge Road. I would have though a repeat performance of the 3-2 defeat wouldn't be one of them. Well, whatever happens this afternoon your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way. If you can't make the match then we'll have all the goals and incidents as it happens live with the usual news in the run-up to kick-off with team line-ups and plenty of chat as your official website has, as ever, 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. His commentary in injury time against Oxford last month has made international radio while groups in his honour have sprouted up on social networking site Facebook. As always 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 - our brand new online image library. Remember, we want you to get in touch. Join the updates and get in touch! Email 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!
    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.