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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
14:34 6th December 2010

HATTERS 5-1 HISTON - REPORT & ANALYSIS

A five star performance swept the Hatters into second spot with a comprehensive victory over lowly Histon to make it seven wins in their last nine games in the Blue Square Bet Premier. At a cold and misty Kenilworth Road, first half goals from Claude Gnakpa, Jake Howells and debutant Jason Walker put the Town in command before Antonio Murray reduced arrears for the Stutes two minutes before half-time. But second half goals from substitute Taiwo Atieno and a Andy Drury from the penalty wrapped up the points to put the Town a point behind leaders Crawley. Walker, who was signed from Barrow in the week, lined-up with fellow new signing Alex Lawless who was making his first appearance on home soil since joining from York. With Dan Glesson out with a stomach strain and Ed Asafu-Adjaye nursing a knee problem, Gnakpa filled in at right-back - a position he began with the Town when first arriving at Kenilworth Road under Mick Harford in 2008. With Walker keen to make an early impression the striker scuffed a shot wide of the post after just 40 seconds but the Town were almost punished for switching off when the visitors - managed by former loanee David Livermore - saw a shot from Paul Wootton bounce past the post on four minutes. But three minutes later the Hatters led. Walker did well to chase a lost cause in the left corner to win a free-kick under pressure from Jack Ainsley. From the resulting free-kick whipped in beautifully by Drury, Gnakpa rose head and shoulders above the rest in the penalty area to plant a header past Joe Welch for his second goal in as many matvhes. Buoyed by that earlier opener, Drury, who was already proving to be a menace on the right flank, sent a cross to the back-post from the right flank straight onto the head of Howells whose effort was easy for Welch to catch. Histon had barely strung two passes together so much was the Hatters' early dominance and Keith Keane - on his 24th birthday - almost celebrated it with a first of the season but instead saw a flicked header from a Drury cross fly over the bar. The game was still only 14 minutes old when Drury orchestrated another fine chance, this time for the sharp Walker - showing an impressive turn of speed and low centre of gravity - when latching onto the midfielder's raking pass from the centre circle to nod at Welch. The new boy was already earning admirers and his cheeky attempt to hide behind the Histon stopper before he released the ball drew a chuckle from the 5,963 inside Kenilworth Road. But no sooner had Histon gone close to finding an equaliser when a well-hit volley from Wootton bounced the wrong side of the post, the Town doubled their lead. Welch put Ainsley under pressure with a poor throw and before he knew it the right back had Walker and Howells breathing down his neck. Suddenly the ball was in Howells' possession and the midfielder was free to run through and slot a tidy finish underneath the body of the advancing goalkeeper for his second goal of the season. "He needed that," Richard Money said afterwards. Two goals down the Stutes, who had only lost once in their previous seven outings in the league despite their position one place above the drop zone, were still looking adventurous going forward but that was leaving the Town plenty of room to exploit. Walker let fly from the edge of the area with a curling shot that whistled over on 25 minutes but Histon should have reduced arrears two minutes later when Daniel Sparkes' left-wing cross somehow eluded the head of Murray at the back post. Drury's influence on the game was increasing by the minute and another devilish free-kick almost found George Pilkington, but on 39 minutes a flowing move of one and two-touch passing made it 3-0. Walker's brilliantly executed first-time pass was then played forward first time by Drury that sent Matthew Barnes-Homer away down the right. The striker took two touches before he looked up and saw Walker darting into the box. Not picked up by any Histon defender, the new boy couldn't miss, nodding Barnes-Homer's inch-perfect cross past Welch from close range. Not a bad way to introduce yourself. "It was a great move, made by a striker and scored by the other," smiled the manager post-match. All of a sudden though, as the half-time whistle approached, the Hatters fell half asleep which allowed the visitors to pull a goal back two minutes before the break. With Gnakpa bombing forward at every opportunity it was no surprise that the Stutes' joy was primarily coming down their left flank. Murray did well to see Wootton racing into the box and before any Town man could realise, Murray was on hand to steer a square pass beyond Mark Tyler despite the best efforts on the line by Keane to keep it out. Back out on the Kenilworth Road pitch two minutes before the restart, the Hatters continued their new warm-up routine but, for the first time, it didn't seem to have the desired effect as Histon began the brighter of the two sides in the second period. However, the introduction of Atieno for Barnes-Homer on 53 minutes saw the Town up the ante again and the substitute almost made an immediate impact when he dragged a shot wide of the target three minutes after his arrival after Walker had done well to charge down a Welch kick which he took in the face. He may have only signed for the Town on Wednesday but Walker was linking-up well with his team-mates and super interplay between the scorer of 11 goals already this term for Barrow and Drury eventually saw Lawless ping a cross onto the head of Atieno whose bullet header destined for the bottom corner was clawed away brilliantly by Welch's outstretched hand. Half chances for Atieno and Drury came and went as the Hatters looked to put the scoreline beyond doubt but the majority inside a murky Kenilworth Road didn't have long to wait for the fourth goal which arrived on 69 minutes. Substitute Shane Blackett did well to guide a header into the path of Drury down the left who ran at the Histon defence before being upended by Ainsley, who was clearing having a debut to forget on-loan from Ipswich. The Hatters midfielder, who was later voted man-of-the-match, got back up to send the resulting spot-kick past Welch for his fifth of the season. That fourth knocked the stuffing out of the Stutes and four became five on 78 minutes when Atieno claimed his fourth goal in his last three matches in front of the home faithful in fine fashion. Again Drury was the architect, showing strength to win the ball in midfield. He then spotted Atieno in the inside-right channel with a low pass that the striker ran onto. Cutting inside his marker, he quickly zipped a confident left-foot shot past Welch. In the 10 games prior to the Stutes' visit to Kenilworth Road the Town had hit 29 goals and five almost became six and 35 in 11 matches when Atieno was unlucky when his improvised flick from a low left-wing cross from Blackett spun wide of the post four minutes from the end. Atieno had collided with the overworked Welch which saw the goalkeeper substituted. In the ensuing eight minutes of stoppage time further chances fell the Hatters way but after Gnakpa had a second goal ruled out for offside that was that and the hosts could take comfort from another comprehensive display. Crawley's 7-0 hammering of Altrincham meant there was no place for the Town at the top but to be in a position to challenge for the title at this stage of the campaign means there isn't the pressure of playing catch-up like last season. With a mouth-watering FA Cup second round tie at League 1 high-fliers Charlton next Saturday to look forward to, what better way than to go into it after winning 5-1? See you at the Valley. Keep believing. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 5 (Gnakpa 7, Howells 19, Walker 39, Drury 69 (pen), Atieno 78) Histon 1 (Murray 43) FULL-TIME It's all over here and it's another home win for the Town here. All the reactions, action and interviews to come. Get in! 90 mins + 8 - Another effort from Gnakpa saved. 90 mins + 7 - The ball is in the net but Claude's second and Town's sixth won't count as he's offside. 90 mins + 4 - We are still playing here and it is still cold, still misty and still 5-1. 90 mins - Into injury time here, not sure how long to play as Howells drives a shot well wide with Blackett lying on the deck. The man-of-the-match by the sponsor is Drury. 88 mins - Welch took a knock when clashing with Atieno and he looks like he'll no longer continue with sub keeper Zac Attwood to appear for the last few minutes. 86 mins - Almost a sweet sixth for the Town as Howells feeds Blackett down the left to deliver a teasing cross that Atieno beats Welch to the ball that the striker flicks just wide. Unlucky. 85 mins - More mist but no more goals yet with five to play. 80 mins - 10 left, a chance for a few more then? That's five different goalscorers this afternoon. Will be a challenge to name the man of the match. 78 mins  GOAL! HATTERS 5-1 Histon - Well there's one...Lovely, lovely stuff. Drury battles to win the ball in the middle of the park. He then spots Atieno to his right and finds the sub. The striker then takes a touch to turn his marker inside out before sweeping a confident shot past Welch. Superb. Get in! 75 mins - Histon still fancy themselves going forward but the Town are well in command. One or two more goals in the last 15 minutes would be nice. For us that is. 72 mins - The attendance at Kenilworth Road is 5,963 which includes 53 shouting for the Stutes. 69 mins  GOAL! HATTERS 4-1 Histon - And that's four as Drury fires past Welch who guessed the right way, diving to his right. Get in! 68 mins - PENALTY TO LUTON - Drury, takes a great header from Blackett and runs down the left, shows fancy footwork before being fouled by Wootton. 66 mins Third and final change for the Hatters as Asafu-Adjaye replaces Lawless. The defender goes to right back and Claude moves to right wing, Drury left wing and Howells intio the middle. 65 mins - All the Hatters now but Drury, with options to his and left and right goes for goal with an effort that clears Welch's crossbar. 63 mins - More work for Welch but this time it's as simple as they come as he gathers a header from Atieno from a right-wing free-kick from Drury. 61 mins - Another off target effort from the Town as Drury curls over a free-kick from 20 yard after Atieno had been brought down. 59 mins - Remember Histon aren't out of this and goalscorer Murray chances his arm with a shot on the turn from the left-hand edge of the penalty that flashes wide. 57 mins - The Town are turning it on now and super play betwen Drury and Walker gets the winger away but he sees his cross blocked. Histon then give the Hatters the ball back and the visitors have Welch to thank to thwart a goal-bound Atieno header from a inch-perfect cross from Lawless. All round good play. 56 mins - And then there's some action as Walker does well to charge down a Welch kick. The new signing takes it in the face and the ball drops to Atieno but drags a first time shot well wide. 54 mins - Certainly been a slow start to this second half, Welch in the Stutes goal has barely had a touch. 53 mins Finally the change can be made as Atieno replaces MBH. 51 mins - Taiwo Atieno is primed to come on here. 49 mins - Referee Hopkins isn't winning any friends from th Hatters faithful after denying them advantage when MBH had the ball but the whister pulled the play back for a foul on Blackett. That's the second time that's happened now. 47 mins - As the mist descends on Kenilworth Road, Drury is the first Town man in the book before Pilkington does well to turn a dangerous cross from Sparkes behind for a corner. 46 mins  Annnnnd we're off for the second as Histon get us underway. There's a change for the Town too, as Shane Blackett replaces Fred Murray. 16:03 WARM-UP Once again the Town are out earlier for the second to do a little warm-up routine. Plus it is cold. Get those muscles going before the off. HALF-TIME Referee Hopkins calls time on the first half and the Town have a 3-1 advantage at the break. 3-0 up and cruising they've let the visitors back into it but it's been very comfortable and there should be more goals in the second half. Check back for updates in 15 minutes. 45 mins - We've got two added minutes here at the end of the first half. 43 mins  GOAL Hatters 3-1 HISTON - Histon have been getting joy down the left as Murray finds Wootton who ghosts in the box and cuts it back to Murray who fires past Tyler despite the best efforts of Keane on the line to keep it out. 3-1. Four first of goals...another four in the second would be nice. 39 mins GOAL! HATTERS 3-0 Histon - There's the debut goal and what a nice goal this is. MBH feeds Drury who in turn chests it back into the path of Barnes-Homer down the right. He looks up and hangs a high ball to the back stick that Walker gets up to nod the ball in, beating Welch to the ball. Great stuff. Get in! 37 mins - Talking of okay, that's not as Histon's Erkan Okay becomes the first player in the book after flying late in on Keane. Happy birthday. 36 mins - Drury's on the deck after being caught by Sparkes but the midfielder looks okay. 32 mins - The mist is back. And it's getting colder. 31 mins - Back come the Town as they look to put this to bed before the break. Another set piece from Drury from the left is flicked goalwards by Pilkington that bounces inches wide. The ref signals for a corner from which Histon clear. 27 mins - Should be 2-1 as Sparkes is free to cross from the left flank, with Gnakpa caught up field, but Murray, diving at the back post, can't connect to force Tyler into a save. The visitors can't believe it. 25 mins - We've seen him do it for Barrow before and Walker fancies his chances of a goal from outside the box with a curling shot from the left-hand edge of the area. 24 mins - To their credit the visitors are still looking to reduce arrears and Tyler has to be alert to catch Murray's right-foot shot from an acute angle. 21 mins - That's now 31 goals in 10 games and 19 minutes of football at Kenilworth Road this season. That's entertainment. 19 mins  HATTERS 2-0 Histon - After Walker had seen a header fly over the crossbar, Histon's Ainsley gives the ball straight to Walker who tees up Howells to run through a slot a lovely finish underneath the advancing Welch. 2-0. Get in. 15 mins - Half a chance for Histon and it's a decent effort too. Pushing forward, Gnakpa can only head straight to Wootton who hits a really well executed volley that bounces a yard past the post. Unlucky. Great technique. 14 mins - The mist has disappeared somewhat now and that enables us to see Drury ping a wonderful raking ball forward that Walker gets a head to but can't get enough on it, stretching to guide it into the arms of Welch. The new signing then cheekily hides behind the goalkeeper but is spotted before the keeper drops the ball. 12 mins - One wonders what the possession stats will look like come the final whistle as the Hatters regain possession, Murray flies down the left to deliver a cross to back post that Barnes-Homer can't turn home. 11 mins - Still the Town press and after Histon concede a corner, Drury's cross from a short one is flicked over by the head of birthday boy Keane. 9 mins - The Hatters are looking for more goals, after all at Kenilworth Road, they do like to hit a few (normally in a short space of time) and Drury almost conjures up a second with a cross from the right that Howells heads straight at Welch. Good start this and plenty more goals in the offing. 7 mins  GOAL! HATTERS 1-0 Histon - Well the Town have started well and after Walker had chased a lost cause and was fouled by his opposite number Ainsley, Drury's super free-kick from the left is headed home by Gnakpa, leaping above everyone to plant an effort past an exposed Welch. Get in! 4 mins - Almost an early shock for the Hatters as Tyler kicks the ball straight to Antonio Murray. Luckily the Stutes striker doesn't control it well but he eventually finds Paul Wootton who drives a first time left-foot shot high and wide. 2 mins - So the Town are lining-up as follows: Tyler in goal, Gnakpa and Murray at full back, Pilks and Kroca at centre-half, Keane and Lawless in the middle of midfield, Howells on the left flank, Drury on the right and MBH and Walker up top. 1 min - A bright start on a dull day for the Town as Walker on his debut scuffs a shot wide on 40 seconds. An early, early sighter for the new boy. 1 min A change of ends and we're off as Town kick-off shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end in this first half. Enjoy the updates. COYH! 14:59 CAN'T SEE YOU! Even mistier out there. 14:57 RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW Out come the two sides, Town in orange, Histon all in blue. 14:53 SEE THE LIGHT Floodlights are now on at a very grey Kenilworth Road. 14:52 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 5-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 3-1 Luton, Ian Pearce: 6-2 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 4-1 Luton, Bill Cole: 3-0 Luton. 14:40 HAPPY BIRTHDAY Keith Keane - 24 today. 14:12 THE TEAMS Richard Money makes three changes to the side that beat Corby 4-2 at Kenilworth Road on Wednesday night. Dan Gleeson is missing through injury while Ed Asafu-Adjaye and Taiwo Atieno drop to the bench. New signings Alex Lawless and Jason Walker start and Zdenek Kroca returns from suspension. We think Claude Gnakpa will play at right back. Hatters: Tyler, Gnakpa, Murray, Pilkington, Kroca, Keane, Howells, Drury, Lawless, Barnes-Homer, J. Walker. Subs: Atieno, Blackett, Asafu-Adjaye, Poku, D. Walker. Histon: Welch, Stewart, Okay, Clerima, Wootton, Murray, Sparkes, Mills, Stevenson, Smith, Ainsley. Subs: Mills, McCrae, Attwood, Lawton, Taafe. 14:07 THREE CHANGES Kroca, Lawless and Jason Walker in for Asafu-Adjaye, Gleeson and Atieno. Full team to follow. 13:55 MISTY The floodlights will be on come 3pm for kick-off. 13:50 ON THIS DAY It's seven wins, one draw and four defeats for the Hatters on this day in history with the last match a 4-1 win at MK Dons in 2004. Steve Howard notched a hat-trick that day. The Town have only ever appeared once on this day in the top flight - a 4-2 defeat at Highfield Road, Coventry in 1982. The record: 1920 DIV3 Norwich City H W 4-0
1926 D3S Queens Park Rangers H W 2-0
1937 DIV2 Chesterfield H D 1-1
1948 DIV2 Chesterfield H W 1-0
1954 DIV2 West Ham United A L 1-2
1965 DIV4 Notts. County H W 5-1
1971 DIV2 Blackpool A W 1-0
1976 DIV2 Cardiff City H W 2-1
1982 DIV1 Coventry City A L 2-4
1984 LGEC Sheffield Wednesday A L 2-4
2001 LD3 Hull City H L 0-1
2004 LGE1 Milton Keynes Dons A W 4-1   Steve Howard - a hat-trick on this day in 2004 13:25 WEATHER WATCH Grey and cold in LU4. 12:55 SUMMIT IN SIGHT At this stage last season many were suggesting the Town's record at Kenilworth Road was the main reason why they lagged eight points behind then leaders Oxford United. Fast forward 12 months and the Hatters' form at Kenilworth Road is beginning to strike fear into opposition teams who now know Richard Money's men can deal with them putting 11 behind the ball and playing for a point. With one defeat - a last-gasp defeat to Crawley in a game they should have won - the Town home form is drawing the crowds too - the largest average in the Blue Square Bet Premier by a mile and one which would sit towards the top of attendances in League 1. But it's goals that have been the main talking point. And loads of them. The Hatters faithful have had plenty to shout about in their seats this season - 21 goals in nine league fixtures and eight in two FA Cup ties. 29 goals on 10 games. You do the math. Histon are the visitors this afternoon. They'll remember a 6-3 drubbing the last time they were here. And that wasn't long ago. April in fact. A seventh win in nine games in the league could propel the Town back to the top of the table, three months since they relinquished that position. Crawley and AFC Wimbledon have been pass the parcel at the top while the Hatters have been quietly going about their business below. So much so that if both teams drop points this afternoon the Town will leapfrog them both - and who exactly wouldn't be happy opening Sunday and Monday newspapers with their favourite team top of the pile? What ever happens this afternoon lutontown.co.uk will be following every step of the way. As usual 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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