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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
10:26 16th August 2010

HATTERS 2-1 ALTRINCHAM

A stunning goal from Matthew Barnes-Homer two minutes from time kicked-off the Hatters' second season in the Blue Square Bet Premier with a win over Altrincham. With seemingly nothing on, and with time ticking down, the striker let fly with an effort from 18 yards that flew past visiting goalkeeper Stuart Coburn to spark wild celebrations of relief inside a colourful Kenilworth Road. It had looked like the Town would have to settle for a point after Alty had levelled on 70 minutes through Damien Reeves' header that cancelled out debutant Zdenek Kroca's 22nd minute goal, until Barnes-Homer stepped-up. The Hatters were fully in command in an opening half that oozed class and confidence with Barnes-Homer and Kevin Gallen - the pair selected by manager Richard Money to lead the line - combining well together with the threat posed by Jake Howells and Andy Drury on either wing. However, for all their creative invention the Town took 19 minutes to test Coburn in the Alty goal when a super slick move involving Gallen and Barnes-Homer saw the latter cross for Drury who slammed a volley straight at the visitors' goalkeeper. That posed as a warning shot to Graham Heathcote's side but it was one they didn't heed as three minutes later Kroca's header had the Hatters ahead. Keith Keane swung in a deep left-wing corner that seemed destined to head out of play. However, the ball was kept in brilliantly by George Pilkington at the back post, and, heading it across goal, the giant Czech was alive in the box to use all of his 6ft 5in frame to nod past Coburn. With Town tails up, they continued to play some confident possession football and that resulted in further chances falling their way. On 29 minutes Howells scuffed a shot wide while on 40 minutes a last-ditch header from Alty's Shaun Densmore from underneath his own crossbar denied the winger a tap-in following fine link-up play down the right by Barnes-Homer and Drury. Five minutes later, and moments before the break, Altrincham were thankful for a second crucial clearance - this time from Robbie Williams - to prevent Barnes-Homer tucking home Drury's curling cross. A goal to the good at the interval Money's men started the second half as they finished as they continued to wow the 6,665 inside Kenilworth Road with more stylish football. Gallen was becoming frustrated with the no-nonsense tactics by the Alty defence but the veteran striker should have doubled his side's lead on 57 minutes when nodding Drury's cross inches wide to the disbelief of everyone inside the ground. Meanwhile, Barnes-Homer was enjoying a little more luck, and after bulldozering his way through the visitors' backline on 63 minutes, he forced Coburn into a sprawling save before he headed the rebound straight back at the Alty stopper. With his side behind, Heathcote introduced three substitutes but up until the 69th minute they had yet to register a shot on goal. But football's a funny old game and on 70 minutes the equaliser duly arrived to shock Kenilworth Road. From their first corner of the afternoon, taken by Ryan Brown, substitute Michael Welch saw his header goalwards met by the head of Damien Reeves who stole in at the back-post to bring the score level despite the best efforts of Mark Tyler. Hurt, the Town responded, and on 74 minutes Money introduced Danny Crow and Claude Gnakpa for Gallen and Howells. It was backs to wall time for the visitors as the Hatters upped the ante, desperate to make their impressive showing count for more than just one point. Crow had his first sight of goal on 78 minutes when seeing an ambitious shot from range blocked before he was denied a chance three minutes later by the deftest of touches by Densmore to cut out an Adam Murray cross. With time running out everyone inside the ground thought the chance of victory was gone when Crow somehow spurned a fantastic opportunity to restore the Town's lead on 86 minutes when diving to head over Drury's cross from the left from six yards out. However, two minutes later Barnes-Homer crowned a fine display with a sublime winner to send the Kenilworth Road faithful into raptures. Picking the ball up 20 yards from goal he let fly with a thunderous right-foot shot that flew past Coburn. It was past the Alty keeper before he even knew it. That knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and Drury should have marked a brilliant individual performance with a goal two minutes into injury time when deciding to square to a defender when one-on-one with Coburn following Adam Murray's neat slide-rule pass. And that was that. Three points on the opening day for the first time in three years and a performance that will get Hatters fans talking. Forget the scoreline: this was an exceptional display and if it continues then the future's bright. One down, 45 to go. Just believe. For mintue-by-minute anaylsis, see below. Result from Kenilworth Road Luton Town 2 (Kroca 22, Barnes-Homer 88) Altrincham 1 (Reeves 70) Final score FULL-TIME HATTERS 2-1 ALTRINCHAM - It's all over, three points to kick the season off! Get in! All the reaction, pictures and highlights to come. Stay tuned. 90 mins + 4  Third and final change as Craddock replaces MBH who receives a tremendous standing ovation. 90 mins + 2 - Oh no! Adam Murray picks out Drury with a fantastic slide-rule pass. He's one on one with Coburn but decides to square...to nobody, thinking someone was waiting for a tap in. That better not cost us! 90 mins - Five added minutes draws constentation from the home crowd who had been roaring with delight seconds earlier. Can they find another in the added time? 88 mins  HATTERS 2-1 Alty - Wait for the highlights for this one...wow! With nothing on up looks Barnes-Homer who lets fly with a stunning right-foot drive that beats Coburn all ends up to bring the house down. GET IN! 86 mins - Oh no, what a chance. After Barnes-Homer's left-shot on the turn was blocked Drury pings in a fantastic cross on a plate for Crow but the little striker can only head over the bar. Unbelievable. Four minutes left... 84 mins - All the Town but Coburn hasn't been unduly worried in the Alty goal as he watched a drive from Barnes-Homer whistle over the crossbar. 81 mins - The Hatters are now piling on the pressure in search of the winner. Adam Murray does well down the right and arches a lovely cross into the six yard box. It looks like Crow will get to it, waiting at the back stick, but Densmore gets the slightest of touches to it and the ball eludes the Town sub. 78 mins - First sniff for Crow as his eye light up 25 yards out after taking a pass from Keane, however, the striker's shot is blocked by Smith. Claude and Drury meanwhile have swapped flanks. 77 mins - Alty goalscorer Reeves gets himself into the book and doesn't endear himself to the home crowd after kicking the ball away from Gleeson before a throw. Then Claude has a half-chance, powering over a header from the left edge of the 18 yard box. 75 mins - So the Town have the 15 minutes to register an opening day win. Crow's up alongside MBH whilst Claude is on the left flank. 74 mins And it's a double change as Crow and Gnakpa replace Gallen and Howells. 72 mins - Activity on the Hatters' bench. 70 mins  Hatters 1-1 ALTY - Well, would you believe it. We were only just saying how dangerous it was at 1-0 and from Altrincham's first corner of the game they level. A flag-kick from the left his headed goalwards by substitute Welsh and ghosting in at the back stick is Reeves to power a header home despite the best efforts of Tyler to keep it out. Oh dear. 69 mins - There's been no sign of any change on the Town bench but Alty make their third and final change as Clee is replaced by Welch. 66 mins - First effort, on or off target, for Altrincham and it comes after 66 minutes as Brown curls over a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar. Don't let the description worry you. Tyler saw it all day long. 63 mins - Great endeavour from MBH as he drives forward and fires a fierce low shot from 25 yards that Coburn can only parry. The save from the keeper bounces back to the striker but, puffed out, he can only head straight at Coburn. Fine play. 60 mins - As the attendance of 6,665 is released (including 101 cheering for Alty in the Oak) Drury curls over a set-piece on the right-hand edge of the penalty area that is met by the head of Gallen but his effort just loops high into the air and the visitors clear. 59 mins - A double change for Alty as Denham and Holmes replace Johnson and Danylyk. 57 mins - Oh, it should be 2-0. Drury gallops down the right and centres a superb cross to the near post onto the head of the unrushing Gallen but the striker can only nod wide of the target with the goal gaping. He's got his head in his hands and so have most inside Kenilworth Road. 55 mins - Another half chance for the Hatters as Adam Murray tries his luck from 20 yards, rifling a shot goalwards after Gallen's lay-off. 54 mins - Drury's set-pieces are going to be a massive asset to the Town's armour this season. He showcases another excellent kick from a set-piece from the right that Kroca gets his head to. However, there's no second goal for the Czech as his effort loops up and harmlessly into the arms of Coburn. 52 mins - Back come the Town though as Howells shoots well wide after latching onto a half cleared Drury cross after good play from Gallen. 51 mins - Alty have got to come out and do something if they want anything from this game and a decent move down the right almost fashions a chance but Johnson's cross his blocked by Howells with the visitors claiming handball. No pen. 49 mins - Oh, it's started to rain again. Surprise, surprise! 48 mins - All the Hatters at the start of this second half as they hunt  a second goal. The crowd lap up more inventive football involving Gleeson, MBH and Drury before moments later Pilks heads over from six yards. 46 mins - No changes for either side at the break, by the way. 46 mins And we're off again for the second half at Kenilworth Road with the Town kicking off shooting towards the Kenny End. COYH! HALF-TIME LUTON TOWN 1-0 ALTRINCHAM - Referee Thompson calls time on the first 45 that sees the Town in front. It's been impressive and comfortable for the Hatters so far. Let's hope for more of the same in the second half. Check back in 15 for all the updates. 45 mins - Another good defensive header, this time from Robbie Williams - no not HIM - denies MBH a chance to head goalwards following Drury's wicked right-wing cross. From the resulting corner from Keane, Pilkington again heads back across goal but no Town man is there to react. 43 mins - Two minutes to the break, still 1-0 and it's all quite comfortable. Two more goals without reply would land some correct press box predictions. 40 mins - Very, very good defending from Densmore prevents it becoming 2-0 as he heads away from undeneath his own crossbar as Drury and MBH combine that sees Barnes-Homer whip a fast, dangerous cross into the six yard box. Howells has a tap in if the ball reaches him but Densmore has other ideas. That was close. 35 mins - Still pretty comfortable for the Hatters here as Coburn has to be careful to keep his eye on a long clearance from Pilkington plummeting down from the sky. 31 mins - Strong period of possession  from the Town is a joy to watch despite the fact that nothing comes of it. Murray doing very well in the heart of the midfield, especially and Howells is bright and busy as ever. It's all one-touch, creative stuff. Love it. 29 mins - Oh, that's unlucky. Good interplay between Howells and Barnes-Homer as they play a one-two that sees the former scuff a shot well wide. 27 mins - All eyes look towards referee Thompson as Drury goes down under a challenge from Joseph following Howells' left-wing cross. Nowt given. 24 mins - The goal has certainly been deserved but the question is, will there be any more and what will Altrincham do now they have to come out and find a goal. 22 mins  GOAL! HATTERS 1-0 Alty - GET IN! There it is. There's the opener, what a feeling and it's one of the four debutants on target. Keane bends in an awesome left-wing corner to the back stick which is headed across goal by Pilkington and there's Kroca, all 6ft 5in of him to glance a header past Coburn for the first goal of the campaign. 19 mins - Chance. A Gallen flick-on finds MBH who races past Densmore before clipping a left-foot cross towards Drury, waiting on the penalty spot, to drive a well-hit volley goalwards that is saved by Coburn. Unlucky. Top all-round play which deserved more. That's better. 18 mins - Kroca and Pilks have been rarely tested at the back but the Czech debutant does well to slid away the danger, tackling Danylyk after the visitors midfielder was in space running onto Johnson's pass. 16 mins - A quick moment of invention from the Hatters as Howells shimmies past two defenders before finding Gallen but the Altrincham defence quickly spot the danger and clear their lines much to the veteran striker's disappointment. 13 mins - Alty have definitely weathered the early storm and the Town are becoming guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply, frustrating the 7,000+ inside the ground. Still early doors, though. Don't panic just yet. 10 mins - For the third in a minute Altrincham scupper a decent chance of threatening the Hatters' goal as Brown lofts a free-kick in the arms of Tyler. 9 mins - And now a first couple of touches for Tyler in the Town goal as Alty waste possession twice in the space of 30 seconds. They're getting into this now, the visitors. 8 mins - First few touches of the ball for Howells as he runs directly at the visitors defence but he's eventually crowded out by a sea of red and white striped shirts. For the record we're wearing the pink and navy blue 125th anniversary kit. 5 mins - Good stuff from the Hatters so far as they crowd again sound their appreciation as excellent strong work from MBH brings the ball away. He finds Gallen who picks out Drury who dances past a Alty challenge into the penalty area but he's cut back across goal is too hard and the ball sails out of play. Unlucky. 2 mins - All the Town so far as they win a corner is won after Drury and Gleeson combine beautifully down the right-flank. A roar goes up but the corner from Drury is cleared. 1 min - An the 2010/11 campaign gets under way with Altrincham kicking-off towards the Kenilworth Road end 14:57 WHAT AN ENTRANCE Hairs standing on the back of my neck here in the press box. COYH! Come on Luton! Come on Luton! 14:57 HERE THEY COME For the first time this season, out come the two sides on the pitch as the ole ole ole oles starting ringing out... 14:55 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS (yes, they're back) Andrew Barringer: 3-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, John Buttle: 3-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-0 Luton, Marvin Johnson: 3-1 Luton, Ian Ryan: 1-0 Luton, Justin Dealey: 3-0 Luton. 14:53 LIGHT-UP It has been gloomy in Luton and as a result the floodlights are on here at Kenilworth Road. The music has gone on up a notch here. It's buzzing. 14:52 BUS We've been told that Alty are lining-up with a 5-3-1-1 formation. 14:50 T-MINUS 10 The sun is now out as Kenilworth Road fills up. Is there a better sight? 14:30 HISTORY LESSON PART II Fifty years ago: 20th August 1960: A Gordon Turner goal helps the Hatters earn a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield in the old Division 2. Twenty-five years ago: 17th August 1985: Another 1-1 draw as Nottingham Forest are held with the Town's Brian Stein on target in the old Division 1. 14:25 POURING! Rain is getting heavier...sliding tackles on a slick pitch. Should make for some good photographs. 14:20 TEAM NEWS The news we've all been waiting for is as follows: Luton Town: Tyler; Gleeson, G. Pilkington, Kroca, F. Murray; Drury, Keane, A. Murray, Howells; Gallen, Barnes-Homer. Subs: Craddock, Blackett, Gnakpa, Crow, G. Pilkington. Altrincham: Coburn, Smith, Josepth, Williams, Densmore, Lawton, Reeves, Clee, Johnson, Brown, Danylyk. Subs: Denham, McCready, Holmes, Coates, Welch. 14:05 RAIN AGAIN... Bring a brolly, it's tipping it down once more. 13:40 EVERYBODY LOVES GOOD NEIGHBOURS? 14th August...two games on this date and two wins over local rivals Watford. A 3-0 League Cup win at Keniworth Road was acheived in 1968 thanks to two goals from Mike Harrison and one Brian Lewis while, in more recent times, an opening day 2-1 win over the Hornets was sealed here following goals from Paul Telfer and Kerry Dixon. 13:20 IS HE, ISN'T HE? Just bumped into Kevin Gallen outside the Hatters' dressing room. I ask him if he's playing...Well you'll find out if he is within the next hour. By signing-up to our sms alerts you can get the details first. 12:50 CLEARER SKIES The skies are beginning to clear as kick-off approaches. The Kenilworth Road pitch looks in fantastic condition. The earlier rain is going to make the ball really zip around this afternoon. Two hours and 10 minutes to go... 11:22 WEATHER WATCH It's raining cats and dogs in LU4. Bring a brolly today or, better still, buy one from the club shop this afternoon. With all this rain, don't worry about the pitch either. We have a new drainage system installed...read more about that and all the other changes in the first edition of our new-look of programme Talk of the Town. 09:00 LONG TIME, NO SEE Good morning and welcome back one and all. It's been a while but we're back. At last. Thank goodness. When I say it's been a while, what I actually mean is it's been 103 days since the day the Hatters' promotion bid ended with defeat to York City. Not that we've been counting... They say time is a great healer and, thankfully, the wounds of last season's heartache have healed. It's been down to optimism but hard work too, in all areas of the Club with hope and expectation of a season of success, and one that will also be marked and celebrated by the milestone of 125 years since the birth of Luton Town. All seasons need to start somewhere and, nicely enough, it's starts here at Kenilworth Road. Home comforts to kick-off the campaign: just what the doctored ordered. In front of a packed-out crowd, Richard Money's men will be looking to register three points on the opening day. An opening day win hasn't been achieved since Hartlepool United were seen off at the beginning of the 2007/08 season. Is one due today with Altrincham the visitors? Well one thing for sure is it won't be taken for granted. Graham Heathcote's side stopped the Town juggernaut at the tail end of last season by grinding out a goalless draw at Kenilworth Road in April. Following eight new summer signings by the Hatters since then, Alty may come up against a very different proposition this afternoon. Richard believes his new recruits will help the Hatters break down narky defences in the Blue Square Bet Premier this term. And who bet would against that? Especially given one of them, Andy Drury, has joined from last year's champions Stevenage. It will be a long and challenging season - life in the BSBP is anything but a walk in the park as know all too well - and, as the Town boss said yesterday, "promotion won't be won or lost in the first game." Absolutely. Come 4.50pm it will be one down and 45 to go. It will be a rollercoaster so, question is are you ready? Well sit tight and enjoy the ride... Well, whatever happens at Kenilworth Road this afternoon, and throughout the season, 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 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 still brought to you by Simon "Statto" Pitts but he's got company this time! The DiverseFM team have collaborated with BBC Three Counties radio and the Club to bring you the Luton Town Show. Following the final whistle we'll have all the reaction from the men that matter this after, bringing you exclusive video content from Richard Money and from the dressing room. We'll have plenty of content to keep you interested as we'll have all of the post-match reaction from Richard as well as match action from Gareth Owen to follow after the final whistle. Be sure to check out www.hatterspics.co.uk - our online image library. Like a picture you see and fancy having that on a mug? Well, fancy no more - with Hatters Pics it's a reality. 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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