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13:22 24th September 2010


Jake Howells' first goal of the season 10 minutes from time rescued the Hatters a point at Darlington. The young midfielder saw his well-hit effort from the edge of the penalty area bounce beyond Quakers goalkeeper Sam Russell to earn the Town a deserved draw. Starting the brightest, the Hatters were almost ahead on 13 minutes when Claude Gnakpa saw a bullet header rebound off the crossbar following Andy Drury's excellent free-kick. Drury's set-pieces were causing the hosts' defence all kinds of problems and it was the same two players who combined to put the Hatters ahead a minute later when the French winger leapt to head home from close range for his second goal of the season. All of a sudden the Town were well and truly on top and on 17 minutes the woodwork again came to Darlington's rescue when a Taiwo Atieno shot was touched onto the post by goalkeeper Simon Russell. That missed opportunity spurred Darlo into life and on 26 minutes the inevitable happened when former Hatters loanee Liam Hatch headed the equaliser from six yards following Aaron Brown's left-wing centre. Suddenly it was all the hosts with Hatch a constant pest to the Town backline and the visitors had the reflexes of Mark Tyler to thank for preventing another Hatch header from creeping home on 32 minutes. Hatch had another effort - this time a shot from outside the box - saved by Tyler as Mark Cooper's men went in search of the lead and complete the comeback. However the Hatters rode that storm but after bossing possession for the majority of the second period they found themselves behind on 73 minutes. Failing to clear a corner from the right the ball fell kindly to Brown on the left-hand edge of the 17 yard box and the home winger sent a left-foot shot through a seas of bodies in the penalty area past an unsighted Tyler. But, 60 seconds after Richard Money threw on Danny Crow for Shane Blackett on 79 minutes they were level when Howells found space to collect an Adam Newton pass from the right to hit a shot past Russell. Buoyed by that goal the Town went in search of a winning that would have seen them go top of the table. However, despite a late rally it never came and it ended up all square to at least reward the 227 travelling Hatters fans with something for their long journey north. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Result from the Darlington Arena Darlington 2 (Hatch 26, Brown 73) Luton Town 2 (Gnakpa 14, Howells 80) FULL-TIME DARLINGTON 2-2 LUTON TOWN - It's all over, photographs and reaction to come. Interviews in the morning. 90 + 3 mins - One last chance as the Hatters have the ball, Drury poised to take a free-kick... 90 mins - We've got a minimum of three added minutes. 90 mins - The clock strikes 90. How many additional minutes will we have? By the way, there is 1,665 inside the ground. That's a lot of empty seats. 87 mins - Three minutes left and we're all hopeful of one last chance as the Town fans begin to find their voice behind Russell's goal. 84 mins - After a stoppage in play and a home sub the Town are back at attacking again. Good play, especially from Newton, promises much but nobody can get a shot away. 80 mins  GOAL! Darlington 2-2 HATTERS - GAME ON. Out of nothing Howells cracks a shot goalwards. It takes a huge deflection of a home defender - not sure who - and the ball bounces beautifully past Russell for the equaliser. Is there a winner here? 10 to play and with Crow on, who knows. 79 mins There's the change, finally, as Blackett is replaced by Crow. Pilks drops back into central defence. 76 mins - The Hatters, on top for much of this second period now need to find something and there's activity on the bench with Crow primed for action. 73 mins  GOAL - DARLINGTON 2-1 Hatters - Well after being ahead the Town now need to come from a behind to get a point. A right-wing corner is cleared to Brown 25 yards out on the left-hand edge of the area and the Quakers' number 25 hits a shot through a sea bodies past Tyler into the net. Oh dear. 71 mins - And then there's a chance for the Quakers as Smith, the supplier of the hosts' equaliser looks up and tries his luck from the edge of the area. But his effort is off target and drifts harmlessly wide. 70 mins - Not much to tell you about now as it's become pretty stale out there now. The nearest we've come to a highlight was Russell's poor clearance when under pressure from MBH that went out for a throw. Yep, that's been about it. 64 mins - Great passage of play from the Hatters, in particular from Gleeson, steaming ahead into the box from right back but neither Drury, Newton or Gnakpa can get a shot way. Still, lovely football to watch at the minute from Money's men. 62 mins - Claude's the first man in referee Heywood's book tonight for a challenge from here that looked unlucky to be called a foul. 59 mins - Still the Hatters press and leaving George Pilkington unmarked in the box is never a good idea at the minute but this time the skipper, alone at the back post can't guide a difficult header on target following Newton's deep right-wing cross. The hosts are a little subdued at the minute. Cue the barrage of Darlo attacks.. 56 mins - More good build-up play from the Town but the less said about MBH's shot the better as it skies into empty seats. However there was a lot to like about the play between Gnakpa and Newton to engineer the chance in the first place, even if there was a little bit of luck too. Can they find a goal again? 54 mins - The Hatters have upped it again and after good play from Howells and Drury almost carve open an opportunity for MBH, Drury then forces Russell into a save with a curling shot from 25 yards. This is better. 52 mins - Half a sniff for Hatch but it's going to take some effort to make it 2-1 from an acute angle and the ball is blazed well over by the home goalscorer. 51 mins  Richard Money doesn't look happy as Gleeson replaces Atieno. Claude's gone up top with MBH, Gleeson is at right back with Newton pushed forward to right midfield. 50 mins - Work for Tyler but it's simple, routine stuff to get down to Hatch's deflected shot from the right-hand edge of the penalty area. Meanwhile, activity on the Town bench... 47 mins - Darlo tails are definitely up and Arnison is unlucky not to do better after doing well to steal in on the blind side of Blackett to force a shot over the crossbar. Bright start from the hosts and the Town need to be alert. 46 mins - Early sight at goal for the hosts as Smith fires well over from the edge of the area but it's high - very high - over the bar. 46 mins  Annnnnd we're ready for the second 45 minutes and it's the Hatters that restart shooting to their 250 fans behind the goal away to our right. No changes for either side at the interval. Come on Luton, come on Luton. HALF-TIME Darlington 1-1 Luton Town Referee Heywood calls time on the first 45 minutes and it's been one in which both sides will go in at the break thinking they should be ahead. The Town have hit the woodwork twice and after taking the lead, looked the most likely to win this. However Darlo are no mugs and have got themselves well into this now and it was always going to be Liam Hatch that would score...It should make for an interesting second period. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half. COYH. 45 mins - Not many stoppages in play and as a result there's one additional minute of time added on at the end of the first 45. 44 mins - A minute to the break and there's a slight change on the pitch. Howells has swapped positions with Drury in midfield. Drury alongside Pilks and Jake is now operating down the left flank. 42 mins - The Hatters will take this, another corner from Drury is headed way over by Claude but it's good to have the ball this end of the pitch for a change. 40 mins - A better response from the Town and Gnakpa goes close to restoring their lead but is denied by a combination of Russell and Hone, deflecting the Frenchman's shot behind for a corner. The flag-kick is superb from Drury - his delivery really is fantastic - and it deserves a Town connection but none arrives. 39 mins - Six minutes to the break and how this game has changed. It's the hosts who now look the more likely to score after they had taken a battering from the Hatters in the opening 15 minutes. The home side won't want the half-time whistle. 35 mins - Hatch is definitely in the mood. Arnison does well down the Quakers' right to square to the ball to big striker. He's 20 yards from goal but looks up, fancies it and whacks a left-foot drive that Tyler has to turn behind, not helped by a dodgy bounce right in front of him. Make no mistake it's all Darlington now. 32 mins - Different ball game now and the Town are having to withstand huge pressure from the hosts. Then it's almost 2-1 to Cooper's side and the Hatters have Tyler to thank for somehow turning behind a goalbound header from Hatch. That was close. But a top save. 29 mins - Close call for the Hatters as the back as combination between Tyler and Blackett snuff out the danger with Senior sniffing for a chance. Darlo have upped it now and are looking a threat. 27 mins - Back come the Town and good interplay between MBH and Howells finds Drury in space down the left but his low pass across the penalty area is cleared by the hosts. 26 mins  GOAL - DARLINGTON 1-1 Hatters - And you can guess who...The Town fail to clear a long throw and from Michael Smith's left-wing pearler of a cross there's Hatch to head past Tyler from six yards. Damn. 23 mins - The long throws seen by the Hatters last time out are evident again and Fred Murray encurs the wrath of the home fans after taking time to wipe the ball with a towel before launching it into the box. 19 mins - The hosts have edged their way back into this a bit but not much, however, Pilkington does well to flick away a dangerous right-wing cross from Clarke with Hatch and Senior waiting in the wings. 17 mins - The Town are enjoying a fine spell and it should be 2-0. This time MBH blasts a free-kick that cannons off the Quakers' wall. The ball falls kindly for Atieno who pokes a shot goalwards. It looks as though it's heading in before Russell sticks out the faintest of fingertips to turn it onto the post. So close to another. The Hatters impressing. 14 mins  GOAL! Darlington 0-1 HATTERS - Well the hosts had been warned and it's that man Gnakpa who punishes the Quakers with a bullet header from 12 yards from Drury's corner past the dispairing dive of Russell. Get in! 13 mins - CHANCE. And it falls to the Hatters as Gnakpa leaps above the Darlo defence to nod a dangerous Drury free-kick onto the crossbar before it's hacked away. From the resulting corner whipped in by Drury home stopper Russell gets it all wrong and concedes another corner. 9 mins - Dare I say it's died down a little but the eerie atmosphere is occasionally broken by the cries from the Hatters faithful. 6 mins - As Hatch wins his first flick on at one end, the hosts' Clarke almost gifts the Hatters an opening when heading back to Russell not knowing MBH was lurking behind him. 4 mins - Still the visitors press, winning their second corner from Gnakpa. Momentarily there was half an opening for Pilkington. His eyes lit up at a third goal in as many games but the less said about his airshot the better. A bright opening indeed. 2 mins - We might be two minutes in but it's all the Town so far, forcing an early corner. 1 min - Very early pressure from the Hatters but nothing to get excited about as MBH tries to flick a Howells pass through but it doesn't come off and home goalkeeper Russell can collect. 1 min And we're off as the Quakers get us underway, they are shooting towards the Town contingent. Enjoy the updates. COYH! 19:43 TOWN TRAVELLERS Just a smidgen over 200 Hatters fans are tucked behind the goal away to our right. 19:42 HERE THEY COME With almost three sides of this massive and impressive stadium empty, out come the two sides onto pitch. The Hatters are sporting their orange home shirts, with navy shorts and socks. Darlo in black and white hoops. 19:36 MATCHDAY MUSIC The Proclaimers - 500 Miles blasts out over those strange, huge, isolates speakers. How apt. 19:35 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 1-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 1-0 Luton, Ian Pearce: 3-1 Luton, James Cunliffe: 1-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 2-1 Luton. 19:29 NICE WORDS Darlington Chairman Raj Singh writes in his programme notes: "Luton have a lot of tradition behind them and a huge fanbase and they have a serious hopes of winning promotion this season." 19:20 TO CONFIRM Yes the Town side for tonight shows no changes following last Friday's 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon. There are two new faces on the Hatters bench, however, with Godfrey Poku and Dan Gleeson named alongside Danny Crow, Dan Walker and Kevin Pilkington. As for Darlo, former Hatters loan striker Liam Hatch starts having shaken off a broken nose injury. I always referred to him as the Warrior in updates last season. Nothing's changed then. Town: Tyler, F. Murray, G. Pilkington, Barnes-Homer, Atieno, Drury, Blackett, Kroca, Howells, Gnakpa. Subs: Gleeson, Crow, Poku, Walker, K. Pilkington. Darlington: Russell, Arnison, Hatch, Senior, Smith, Hone, Austin, Smith, Terry, Clarke, Brown. Sub: Jack, McReady, Chandler, Barton, Gray. 19:06 UNCHANGED The Hatters are unchanged. Full team to follow. 19:00 STANDBY Team news should (hopefully) be with us in the next quarter-of-an-hour. Stay tuned. By the way the public address system here is bizarre. To pump music into the stadium there are two big speakers plonked into the far corner. 18:45 HATCH BACK It seems Liam Hatch is set to feature for Darlo...he's out there together with the whole home squad with manager Mark Cooper going through tactics a full hour before kick-off. 18:35 AWAY RECORD The omen aren't great for an away win. The Hatters haven't won here for 42 years since a 2-1 win in 1968. That's the only win th Town have registered in six visits to Darlington. That's got to change some time! 18:30 WEATHER UPDATE Imagine it being grey and then double it, add some more grey cloud and then you've got the scene before my eyes. Can someone turn the floodlights on? 17:10 WEATHER WATCH Mild and cloudy up in this neck of the woods. 16:25 ON THIS DAY Blimey, how times change. 19 years ago today the Town were playing in the top division, at Old Traffford, losing 5-0 to Manchester United. On 21st September 1974 the Hatters were also playing at one of today's big clubs, Arsenal, and registered an excellent 2-2 draw at Highbury. The Town have won three of their 11 games on this day, including their last one, a last-gasp 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town in 2002. 15:20 OPPOSTION VIEW Darlington boss Mark Cooper: "Tonight's game should be a top-of-the-table clash and instead we're needing a win just to catch up to Luton now, when we should be going into the game ahead of them. "Football certainly finds a way of kicking you where it hurts sometimes and we learned a very harsh lesson at Bath on Saturday." Quakers midfielder Gary Smith: "I've heard some people say it's a bad time to play Luton, with the results they've had, but it's as good a game as any in my opinion. "The way I see it is we've dropped about six points away from home since the start of the season, we should be up there and probably above Luton. "They're a quality side with some good players but with a bit more luck we'd be in the top two and probably the favourites going into this game. "As it is everyone is probably expecting them to come here and get a result." 13:30 GET INVOLVED Whether your setting off later or staying at home and tuning in on here or on the radio, drop us an email. Reminisce about long midweek journeys of days gone by or just give us your predictions. Facebook and twitter is also there for your comments. email 13:00 THE LONG ROAD STARTS HERE Got the car tyres tested? Had the MOT done? Found the maps and packed the sweets? Good. Then we can begin. A long and winding road on England's motorways awaits the Hatters and their supporters over the next 12 days as they take in the North East and North West of England and with it a gobsmacking 1,438 miles (and that's just from Kenilworth Road). The magical mystery tour begins tonight at the Darlington Arena, which is, funnily enough, the home of Darlington, before consecutive Saturday trips to Gateshead and Barrow (and a home game with Mansfield wedged in somewhere in between). Of course, despite all this talk of travel, there is a damn good reason why the Town are travelling all these miles. It's to play football matches and get results which we hope will help them towards their target of returning to the Football League. Not that any of these three games, tonight in particular, will be easy. Town boss Richard Money has already admitted how difficult this run of fixtures is but believes positive results will inspire his players on to bigger and better things. "With the schedule we have I'll know a lot more about my players after the Crawley game," the manager told Hatters Player after the excellent 3-0 win over the then league leaders AFC Wimbledon. Oh yes, I didn't mention that . After the trek to Barrow the Saturday after next it's the current league leaders, Crawley, at home...if it couldn't get any more trickier. But we're not complaining. Far from it. A victory at the Darlington Arena, coupled with Tamworth dropping points against Bath, would mean the Town would return down the A1 top of the league tonight. So there is plenty to get excited about this evening, especially considering the Hatters go into the game fresh off the back of two victories in which they've kept two clean sheets. Who would have thought they would hear Richard Money utter the words "George Pilkington's been scoring for fun in training"? After two goals in as many games the skipper is on fire in a team that two games ago were being written off after just seven games! How times change, but tonight the Town will hope for a better trip to this corner of the North East. Their last visit, in January 2009, a Liam Hatch inspired Darlo side whacked the Hatters 5-1. Last season's loan striker rejoined the Quakers on-loan this season. Perhaps it's a lucky omen the likeable frontman has a broken nose otherwise he could again wreak havoc on the Hatters like he that day on a cold afternoon 20 months ago. While even the most pessimistic Hatter wouldn't predict a similar scoreline tonight, what we do know is it promises to be another real test of character for the Town. But wouldn't it be great to reward those loyal supporters with three points and a place at the top of the table? On-loanChris Martin was on target on the Town's last visit to Darlington. The less said about the result the better. Well, whatever happens this evening, and indeed 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 - 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 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.