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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:22 27th January 2011

HATTERS 1-0 GRIMSBY TOWN

The Town bounced back to winning ways to record their 10th home victory of the season thanks to Claude Gnakpa's ninth goal of the season. The Frenchman turned home Alex Lawless's left-wing cross on 24 minutes to see off the Mariners and move the Hatters to within two points of top spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier. The Town started on top. Lawless could only find the side netting after doing the hard work in the penalty on nine minutes before a dangerous cross from Andy Drury eluded Lloyd Owusu and Gnakpa in the six yard box a minute later. Owusu nearly got a chance 14 minutes later following more good work from Drury before Barnes-Homer, celebrating his 24th birthday, saw a shot on the turn saved by Grimsby goalkeeper Kenny Arthur. A marauding run down the right flank from Gnakpa on 22 minutes saw Barnes-Homer fire well over the crossbar but the Hatters only had to wait a further two minutes to break the deadlock. Barnes-Homer began the move, poking the ball through to Lawless who, beating the offside trap, advanced down the left flank. The midfielder was then quick to spot an unmarked Gnakpa in the Grimsby area who in turn slid the ball past Arthur. Bradley Wood tried in vain to prevent the ball from spinning over the line but it proved too late and the assistant referee awarded the goal. It should have been 2-0 the Hatters five minutes later when Lawless side-footed a shot the wrong side of the post following Barnes-Homer's cut-back before Owusu powered a header over on 32 minutes as the hosts pressed. Back came the Mariners, however, and they almost drew level on 35 minutes when Robert Eagle's stinging 25-yard piledriver was pawed away by Mark Tyler. After the break the visitors' upped the ante in search of an equaliser: Steven Watt's shot whistled past the post on 57 minutes before Tyler came to the Town's rescue four minutes later when saving Serge Makofo's low shot. The Hatters sprang back into life and Owusu fired into the side netting after taking a wonderful pass by Barnes-Homer. But Grimsby continued to press and after substitute Jason Walker missed the chance to seal the points for the Town when shooting straight at Arthur on 79 minutes, the visitors almost snatched a point with two chances in the final four minutes. Firstly Alan Connell saw a curling shot from the edge of the area clip the top of the crossbar before Tyler turned another long-ranger from Eagle around the post with almost the last kick of the game to ensure the Hatters held onto earn three vital points. The victory extended their unbeaten run in the league to nine games and with it their eighth clean sheet in 10 matches. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Result from Kenilworth Road Luton Town 1 (Gnakpa 24) Grimsby Town 0 Full-time FULL-TIME After five added minutes a huge sigh of relieve...it's all over and Claude Gnakpa's goal midway through the first half as earned the Town the points. Stay tuned for reports, photos and reaction. 90 mins + 3 - Almost 1-1, Tyler top save to deny Eagle. Strike from just outside the box, through a sea of bodies, turned away superbly. 90 mins + 2 - All hands to pump for the Town who then in turn attack as Drury plays in Walker who has a shot saved but he's offside anyway. 90 mins - Three added minutes to hold on... 89 mins - Oh almost nerves calmed as Drury goes on a slaloming run from the left to just outside the box. He lets fly with a drive that bounces half a yard the wrong side of the post. Top play from a top player. Unlucky. 88 mins - Two left now, the Hatters still have most of the ball but can they grab a second to ease the nerves? If they keep the ball they'll be fine. 86 mins - Hearts in mouths time for the Hatters as Grimsby break. Leading scorer Connell looks up on the edge of the area and curls a shot goalwards that pings off the top of the crossbar. 85 mins - Five left, internet problems persist but the Town are back on top. Can they grab a second and/or hold off the Mariners? 82 mins - Gnakpa into the box, off target when well placed. 79 mins - Walker chance straight at Arthur. 77 mins - First Town change of the evening as Jason Walker replaces Barnes-Homer. 73 mins - The Hatters are under the cosh and the Mariners now make a double change: Cummins and Watt replaced by Scott Garner and Mark Hudson. 71 mins - Not sure if it's because the lead is only goal but this second half seems to be going much slower than the first. The Town aren't hanging on but they do need a second goal. 69 mins - Having a few teething problems, not sure if these updates are getting through but after Grimsby go close to levelling following a goalmouth scramble that saw Eagles see a shot blocked, the Town almost double their lead on 69 minutes as Kroca down a Drury free-kick from close range. 64 mins - Almost 2-0 to the Hatters as MBH does superbly to turn inside and then play Owusu through with a reverse pass with the outside of his boot. Owusu strides into the penalty area and takes a shot early that he hits into the side netting. 61 mins - Chance for 1-1 and the Town have Tyler to thank for thwarting Makofo after the visiting striker had got the better of both Howells and Pilkington. Pressure rising from the Mariners. Still 1-0 though. 60 mins - Almost a chance for the Hatters to double their lead as Howells hangs a high cross from the left that surprises Gnakpa from close range but Grimsby clear. 59 mins - The attendance is the lowest of the season in the BSBP: 5,609 including 171 making the trip from Humberside. 57 mins - No doubt the Mariners have upped it here and they go close to levelling things as Steven Watt fires the ball just past the post from 15 yards. That was close. 54 mins - Half a chance for that second as MBH hangs up a cross from the left that finds Gnakpa and Owusu at the back stick. Not sure who got the final touch but it was a chance nonetheless as Arthur gets down to keep the ball out. 53 mins - Grimsby have started this second half much brighter. The Town need a second here. 51 mins - Second man in the book for the visitors as skipper Atkinson is cautioned for wrestling Gnakpa to the ground. Both Grimsby centre-backs on a yellow. 49 mins - Bit more pressure from the Mariners. Pilkington does excellently to keep Connell at bay before the visitors win the ball back again but Wood sees a shot from the edge of the box saved by Tyler. 47 mins - First chance of the second half but only a half-one at that as Gnakpa heads over Drury's right-wing corner. 46 mins Annnnnnd we're off for the second half as the Town kick-off, shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end. HALF-TIME  There's the half-time whistle and the Hatters will be very happy with their first half display: on top and a goal to the good thanks to Claude Gnakpa's ninth goal of the season far. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half updates. COYH! 45 + 2 mins - First man in the book is a man in black and white as Grimsby's Darran Kempson has his name taken for a foul on Drury. From the resultant free-kick by Drury, Arthur catches comfortably. 45 mins - We've got at least two further minutes to find a second before the break. 44 mins - A minute plus stoppage time until half-time, a slight break in proceedings with Makofo down receiving treatment for the visitors. 40 mins - No doubting Claude is on fire at the minute...his goal tonight is his fifth in seven matches. He then goes on a solo run, beating several players on the way before the move breaks down. 39 mins - Another half a sniff for the Town as they continue to press the visitors into their own half. Drury, on this occasion with a shot from the edge of the area that hits a Mariner. 38 mins - Hatters back on top as good play from MBH down the right almost causes confusion before Owusu sees a piledriver hit the back of a Grimsby defender. 35 mins - Oooh, back come Grimsby and Mark Tyler is all of a sudden called into evasive action, diving away to his right to keep out a rifled 25-yard drive from Robert Eagle. Great hit, great save. 35 mins - Lawless is having a super game so far and he almost creates the Town's second. Nifty play from the midfield feeds Owusu who spots Drury unmarked to his left but the Hatters' number 11 sees a first time shot from 20 yards comfortably held by Arthur. 32 mins - Still all the Hatters here and Owusu knows he should do better as he rises to power a head just over the crossbar following Lawless' curling right-wing cross. Lawless impressing tonight. 29 mins - Even better chance for 2-0 as the Hatters press. Drury finds Barnes-Homer who looks up and spots an unmarked Lawless who somehow side-foots a shot the wrong side of the post from five yards. Unlucky. 28 mins - Sorry, few internet connection issues - half a sniff for 2-0 as Owusu heads wide from a Lawless cross. 24 mins  GOOOOAL! TOWN 1-0 Grimsby - Dearth, what dearth? All of a sudden the Town break down the left - Barnes-Homer poking a ball through to Lawless who times his run brilliantly. He beats the offside trap, looks up and spots an unmarked CLAUDE GNAKPA six yards out slides the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Bradley Wood on the line. Get in! 22 mins - Real dearth of chances here at the minute. Then good defending gets the Hatters out of pickle with Gnakpa rampaging down the right. He slides MBH down the right touchlne but after cutting inside the striker whacks the ball over the crossbar. 18 mins - A mix-up in the Mariners' back-line almost presents the Town with a chance but neither Barnes-Homer or Owusu could react in time before the visitors clear up. 17 mins - Birthday boy MBH have a great game so far. He clearly is up for this tonight. After a sustained period of dominance in the Grimsby half, Drury sends a shot skimming goalwards from the edge of the area which is blocked. The ball falls to MBH who turns and sends a shot into the gloves of Kenny. 14 mins - The pitch isn't helping either side at the minute, more Grimsby than the Town. This time the Mariners gift Drury the ball who sends in a teasing cross from the left that Owusu reacts to but can't quite manage to get a toe to the ball and Kenny Arthur in the visitors' goal can gather. 10 mins - More lovely stuff from the top as they threaten once more, this time a fancy flick from Barnes-Homer sets Drury on his way but the midfielder's cross flashes across goal with neither Owusu or Gnakpa able to turn the ball home. 9 mins - Oh, half the ground think that's in (including me) as Barnes-Homer plays a stupendous pass forward for Lawless who cuts inside his marker, and rolls the ball into the side netting from six yards. Great move and unlucky. 4 mins - No chance of note for either side but it's the Hatters that are on top early doors. All we've had so far is a Drury free-kick from the right cleared by Grimsby with Pilkington looking for a sniff at the back stick. 2 mins - Town pressure early doors here but, in case you don't realise the Town are lining up thus: Tyler in goal, Howells and Gleeson full-backs, Pilkington and Kroca centre-halves, Drury on the left wing, Gnakpa on the right, Keane and Lawless in centre mid with MBH and Owusu up top. 1 min  And we're off as the Mariners get us underway, kicking towards the Kenilworth Road end. Enjoy the updates. COYH! 19:44 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides, Town in their orange, Grimsby in their traditional black and white stripes. 19:42 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 1-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 1-1 draw, Ian Pearce: 3-2 Luton, Mark Wood 2-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 1-1 draw, James Cunliffe: 1-0 Grimsby, Bill Cole: 3-1 Luton. 19:27 ON THIS DAY The Hatters' record on 25th January isn't bad at all, a 70% win rate in actual fact. Seven wins from just 10 games which includes a 6-2 defeat at Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup replay in 1997. Last time the Town appeared on this date was at Kenilworth Road when a solitary goal from Matthew Spring earned all three points against Wycombe Wanderers in 2003. 19:25 BIRTHDAY BOY Happy 25th birthday Matthew Barnes-Homer. Let's hope the striker can celebrate with a goal or three this evening. 19:10 WEATHER UPDATE The rain has gone, you'll be pleased to hear. 18:57 THE TEAMS So two changes for the Town in the wake of Saturday's draw with Gateshead. Andy Drury and Dan Gleeson both returning from injuries. It means Ed Asafu-Adjaye and Danny Crow drop to a substitutes' bench that includes striker Jason Walker. Grimsby, meanwhile, have former Town man Michael Leary in their starting XI. Hatters: Tyler, Gleeson, Pilkington, Kroca, Howells, Gnakpa, Lawless, Keane, Drury, Barnes-Homer, Owusu. Subs: Asafu-Adjaye, Crow, J. Walker, Poku, Watkins. Grimsby: Arthur, Bore, Kempson, Cummins, Leary, Watt, Connell, Makofo, Wood, Atkinson, Eagle. Subs: Hudson, Garner, Sinclair, Corner, Croudson. 18:55 TWO CHANGES Hot off the press: Andy Drury and Dan Gleeson in for Ed Asafu-Adjaye and Danny Crow. Jason Walker returns on the bench. 18:40 FULL ON As Mark Tyler and Dmitri Kharine begin their warm-up, the last remaining floodlights are turned on. We're at full lux now. 18:10 WOODWORK The Hatters have incredibly hit the woodwork seven times in the past five games, striking the post three times and smashing the bar four times. v Bath - Andy Drury (post), Alex Lawless (bar) v AFC Wimbledon - Andy Drury (post and bar) v Uxbridge - Christian Tavernier (bar) v York - Claude Gnakpa (bar) v Gateshead - Jake Howells (post) Here's to a change of luck tonight. 17:30 WEATHER WATCH Horrible light, fine rain currently teeming down as the groundsman attend to the pitch at a half-floodit Kenilworth Road. 16:50 WE DO IT OUR WAY Frank Sinatra may have done it his way all those years ago but the Hatters, as ever, continue to do things in their own unique way. We've said many times before the Town rarely do things the easy way. Sky high after slamming five past York City last Tuesday a frustrating home draw with Gateshead followed on Saturday. That's just the way we do it, here. As Alex Lawless said after the weekend draw with the Tynesiders: "we can't win every week". Still unbeaten in the league since a 1-0 reverse at Wrexham on 11th November, the Hatters go in tonight's game as leading goalscorers in the Blue Square Bet Premier with the joint-best home record to boot. A place at the top of the league could be claimed come half past nine this evening should title rivals AFC Wimbledon and Crawley Town slip up against Bath and Cambridge respectively this evening. The Hatters need to concentrate, however, on themselves and will most certainly do that this evening when the Premier Sports TV cameras and Grimsby Town visit. Since the 4th September defeat at Blundell Park the Town have only lost three times in the Blue Square Bet Premier. Probably considered by most of the Hatters faithful as a bit of bogey team in recent years, the Mariners are slowly finding their feet in the top flight of non-league football following relegation from League 2 last season. Neil Woods' side started 2011 on fire, smashing 13 goals in just two games. However, their inconsistent form has prevented them from breaking into the top five: after their 7-2 and 6-1 wins they lost three on the bounce, then beat Kettering and held leaders Crawley on Saturday. It remains to be seen what Grimsby side turn up in LU4 later but the Hatters are confident of bouncing back after the frustration of Saturday. Well once more, as ever, win, lose or draw this evening 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 fantastic mobile site. Check it out if you're on the move @ http://mobile.lutontown.co.uk 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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