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17:04 24th April 2010


The Hatters will face York City in the Play-Off semi-finals after extending their unbeaten run to 14 games with a draw at Rushden & Diamonds.

And the point, together with Oxford's defeat at Eastbourne, means the Town secure second spot in the Blue Square Premier.

Tom Craddock's 24th goal of the season put the Hatters ahead as early as the ninth minute, finishing a lovely move with a top finish.

Richard Money's men were on top but slowly Rushden got the hang of things and levelled things up on the 20 minute mark through their number 20 Mark Byrne who finished well after reacting quickest to Sam Smith's knock-down.

Craddock was the Diamonds' main tormentor and the striker should have restored the lead on 24 minutes when he dragged a shot inches wide after good play from George Pilkington.

Mark Tyler saved the Hatters on 32 minutes when he stopped Curtis Osano's shot after a surging run before Craddock hit the post on 39 minutes as the Town upped the ante before the break.

Craddock came close again two minutes before the break with a tidy first-time shot that whistled just past the post.

Both sides matches each other in the second period with the Town marginally on top.

However, Rushden had the better of the chances with substitute Craig Farrell twice going close, moments after being introduced, including one free-kick that Tyler did brilliantly to beat away.

The Hatters pushed for a last-gasp winner but in the end it finished all square.

Full report to follow, for minute-by-minute analysis see below.

Result from Nene Park

Rushden & Diamonds 1 (Byrne 20)

Luton Town 1 (Craddock 9)

Final score

FULL TIME whistleRUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 1-1 LUTON TOWN - It's all over here at Nene Park. All the reaction and anaylsis to come.

90 mins + 2 - Oh so close, Hall runs through put blasts a shot wide. Drama at the bottom...Eastbourne are beating Oxford...second place is the Hatters. No idea how that leaves the relegation dogfight.

90 mins - We've got three added minutes here...time for one last chance?

89 mins - Still the same as it was earlier at Eastbourne and Stevenage...York await...

88 mins SubstituteThird and final change for the Town as Nwokeji replaces Craddock.

87 mins - All the Hatters now as they press for a late winner. Craddock is the main tormentor in chief.

84 mins - Tenacious play from Barnes-Homer as he bundles his way past two Rushden tackles before blazing a shot high, wide and handsome.

82 mins - Great opportunity for 2-1. Tyler boots the ball downfield, Rushden allow the ball to bounce, which gives MBH the chance to seize upon it but its bounces up awkwardly and the striker can only fire high over the crossbar from eight yards. More noise now from the Hatters fans. Is there a winner coming?

79 mins - Another chance for the Town as Blackett gets up highest to meet Jarvis' right-wing free-kick, heading it inches wide as a congo breaks out in the away end. Scooby Doo's in there. So is a banana.

77 mins - All the Hatters at the minute but it's still one a-piece. Howells does well to beat his man to play a dangerous ball across the face of goal but no Town man is there to knock it what would have been a simple tap-in.

74 mins - It's still the same story elsewhere in the BSP, still a trip to York awaits for the Town. At the bottom, Ebbsfleet look doomed as they trail at Tamworth while with Gateshead and Forest Green both winning, Eastbourne need a goal against Oxford to save themselves.

71 mins - The Hatters are upping the ante now with Craddock, Hall and Howells all looking dangerous. Still 1-1. The change, by the way, has seen Pilkington switch to right back, Newton to right wing with Blackett coming on to play centre-half with Kovacs.

70 mins SubstituteSecond change for the Town as Heslop is withdrawn for Blackett.

69 mins - Great play from Craddock almost makes it 2-1 but Hall is adjudged to be offside.

68 mins - Roberts is tested again as he gets down to pounce on Hall's shot from just outside the box after Diamonds had failed to clear a Howells left-corner.

66 mins - Half chance for the Town as Craddock whips in a super cross from the left flank that MBH cannot quite stretch to reach.

65 mins - York still trail at Stevenage and Oxford are still being held by Eastbourne. All that means a trip to York next Thursday. 20 minutes left for that to change.

64 mins - We've now since been told the away following from the Town is 2,797.

63 mins SubstituteFirst change of the afternoon and it's Hall on for Gallen.

60 mins - Activity on the Hatters bench, it looks like Hall is ready for action.

59 mins - And then another...end to end now as Farrell tries his luck with a fierce free-kick from the edge of the area that is beaten away by the arm of Tyler. Fantastic stop.

57 mins - Like London buses, you wait around for one for a while and then two come at once. This time it's for the Town as Craddock whacks over from an acute angle after being found by a lovely pass from Heslop.

56 mins - And then a chance for the hosts, and a good one at that. The ball is swung in from the left flank and substitute Farrell - just on for Tomlin - heads narrowly over the crossbar with his first touch. That was close.

55 mins - Little opportunities coming either side's way the minute as Smith tries a shot on the turn which is blocked by Pilkington away for a corner.

50 mins - Chance for the Town as MBH beats Porter down the left, jinks inside and fires a shot which is deflected in the arms of Roberts.

49 mins - Quiet beginning to the second period but just as I type that Craddock tries to muscle his way through the Diamonds defence who are able to clear.

47 mins - The attendance at Nene Park is 4,820. Now, Rushden's largest gate of the season before today was 2,970 against Oxford. There's more Luton fans here than the whole of that gate. 2,984 have made the trip up the A6. Fantastic.

46 mins whistleThe Town get us underway in the second period, now kicking towards their own support. No changes at the break for either side.

HALF TIME whistleRUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 1-1 LUTON TOWN - Referee Kinseley calls time on the first half at Nene Park and it's all square. It's been a thoroughly entertaining first 45 minutes here. Let's hope we have more of the same in the second half. Check back in 15 minutes for all the updates. COYH.

45 mins - Just the one added minute at the end of the first 45.

43 mins - Craddock could have had hat-trick this half as chances continue to fall is way. Diamonds gift the ball to Heslop who curls a first-time cross for the striker who hits a shot first time that just bounces a yard wide of the target. Great technique.

40 mins - Elsewhere...Eastbourne 0-0 Oxford, Stevenage 1-0 York. That still means we're playing the Minstermen.

39 mins - Back come the Town though and after Pilkington had defended superbly to see of Louis' strength at one end, the visitors break as Craddock scampers down the right, into the penalty area. Instead of squaring the ball he surprises everyone and goes for goal, surprising the home keeper too, but the striker's cheeky effort comes back off the post. Unlucky.

37 mins - Still even stevens but Diamonds probably having the better of the play and are beginning to look dangerous. Tomlin drags a shot wide of Tyler's right-hand post after Osano had seen another good opportunity blocked by an outstretched leg of Kovacs.

33 mins - Nimble footwork and great close control from Craddock threatens to put the Town back in front but Rushden eventually get a foot in to deny the striker a shot at goal.

32 mins - Chance. For Rushden. Left-back Osano bursts through the middle of the park, rides Jarvis's challenge, beats Kovacs and drives a well-hit shot goalwards that Tyler gets down to keep out. All round good play.

30 mins - A bit of a lull after that Diamonds leveller and not much to report, it's pretty even at the minute. Observation so far...Kovacs has done well at centre-half.

24 mins - Should be 2-1 to the Town. Pilkington does expectionally to read the danger of a forward pass and strides forward and picks out Craddock. With Rushden appealing for offside, the striker bares down on goal but drives a left-foot shot agonisingly wide of the post. What a chance. Super play from Pilks.

22 mins - York are drawing at Stevenage and Oxford are drawing at Eastbourne so it's as you were and we'll be off to York next Thursday.

20 mins GOAL! GOAL - RUSHDEN 1-1 Hatters - See 15 mins, "Diamonds are edging their way back into things". Damn right. It's one-apiece. A long ball is knocked down by Smith into the path of an unmarked Byrne who drives a nice first-time finish past Tyler who despite getting a glove on it, can't keep it out.

18 mins - Diamonds skipper Stuart almost gets in trouble with a back-header for his keeper Roberts. At first it looks a bit short and MBH senses a chance but eventually the ball reaches the home the goalkeeper.

15 mins - Gallen is linking the play well as usual, but this time from a withdrawn position behind the front two. He takes a square pass from Heslop and fancies his chances of a goal but his side-foot shot from 20 yards is easily held by Roberts. Still comfortably all Luton but Diamonds are edging their way back into things.

12 mins - First sniff of a chance for Rushden as Louis tries a shot on the turn that richochets off Kovacs for a corner that is eventually cleared.

11 mins - As things stand, the Town will play Rushden in the Play-offs...

9 mins GOAL! GOOOOOOAL! Rushden 0-1 HATTERS - It has been all the Town so far and they've made their possession count with a really worked goal. Newton feeds Gallen, who in turn slides in Craddock with a neat pass. He takes a touch, has no defenders around him before finishing confidently with a low finish past Roberts for his 24th of the season. Get in!

7 mins - Plenty of songs about Wembley being sung by the Hatters support but let's not get too carried away. We've not even had the first play-off game yet.

4 mins - Sustained period of pressure fromt he Town at the minute with Heslop already having two shots from distance blocked. All the visitors at the minute.

2 mins - The way the Hatters are lining up is as follows: Tyler in goal, a back four of Newton, Kovacs, Pilkington and Murray, a midfield of Heslop and Jarvis (in the middle), Howells (on the left) and Gallen (in behind, advanced) with MBH and Craddock up top.

1 min whistleAnd we're off as Rushden get us under way, kicking towards the massed ranks of Town fans decked out in orange behind one of the goals. Come on Luton!


Out come the two sides, the Town in orange shirts, white shorts, navy blue socks with the Diamonds in their traditional white shirts, blue shorts and white socks. Great atmosphere. It's a shame that there's no title to play for but it still should be a fantasting encounter. COYH.


A sea of orange and white behind one goal and down one side of the pitch, the 3,000 Hatters fans are cracking up the noise.


Andrew Barringer: 2-2. Tom Leech: 0-0. Carl Field: 3-1 Luton. Simon Pitts: 1-1. Euan Duncan: 2-0 Luton. Ian Pearce: 3-1 Luton.


Justin Edinburgh made wholesale changes for his side's victory at Wrexham. That was a side made-up of fringe players but today is more like their first team, according to the local press pack. It's seven changes from that win in Wales. Lee Tomlin, their star turn this campaign, makes a return to the side after injury.


Hatters boss Richard Money makes three changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Altrincham last Saturday. In come Janos Kovacs, Rossi Jarvis and Matthew Barnes-Homer. Out go Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Asa Hall and Shane Blackett.

Hatters: Tyler, Kovacs, Pilkington, Newton, Craddock, Howells, Jarvis, Gallen, Murray, Barnes-Homer, Heslop.

Subs: Gore, Asafu-Adjaye, Blackett, Nwokeji, Hall.

Rushden: Roberts, Osano, Porter, Stuart, Tomlin, Pattison, Smith, Byrne, Huke, Terry, Louis.

Subs: Day, Wolleaston, Farrell, Akurang, McDonald.

14:20 HOWEVER...

One man who is here and is warming up is Claude Gnakpa. The Frenchman is all smiles, as usual. Also out there is Mark Nwokeji and Godfrey Poku.


No team news yet as The Boys are Back in Town blasts out over the PA system and it looks as though its the same squad from last week. What the line-up is at the minute is anybody's guess.


It's going to Nene Park's largest attendance of the season and it's going to include just a smidge under 3,000 Hatters fans making the short trip up the A6. Will we be making the trip back here next Thursday? That is the question. The answer? Well stay tuned to find out. Thing will change quite a bit between now and 5pm, that's for sure.

14:07 A-OK

Good afternoon from a sun-drenched Nene Park. The weather is lovely, the pitch is being watered as a number of the Town players emerge from the dressing room to warm-up.


We're going to warn you now that this afternoon we may experience internet connection problems but please stay with us. But we hope it doesn't affect our usual matchday updates.


With the title race over following last weekend's results you could be mistaken for thinking that there's nothing on any of the matches involving the four sides that will be contesting the Blue Square Premier Play-Offs that begin next week.

Well think again.

The Town, their opponents today, Rushden, Oxford and York are all gunning for that sought-after momentum to carry them into the end-of-season lottery into the best of form.

Richard Money's men are still riding a crest of a wave, unbeaten in 13 games stretching back until the beginning of March. As form goes, that ain't half bad, is it?

And today they take on Justin Edinburgh's side looking to secure second place in the BSP.

There are many permutations surrounding who the Hatters will actually face in the Play-Offs with Oxford just a point behind and chasing second place themselves and York, currently fifth and level on points with Rushden who lie fourth.

Well, whatever happens at Nene Park 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 has made international radio while groups in his honour have sprouted up on social networking site Facebook. He's here at Nene Park and ready for the Play-Offs next week.

Afterwards we'll have all the reaction from the men that matter this after, bringing you exclusive video content!

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.


Hatters Player

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