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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
20:04 9th April 2011

HATTERS 6-0 SOUTHPORT

The Hatters hit Southport for six to avenge their defeat in the north-west a fortnight ago and register Gary Brabin's first win in charge. The Town played some sizzling football under the hot Kenilworth Road sunshine, and the new manager's decision to unshackle his forward players paid dividends as his team romped to an emphatic victory. A late flurry of goals from Freddie Murray, Jason Walker, Zdenek Kroca and Claude Gnakpa, added to first-half strikes from Amari Morgan-Smith and Robbie Willmott, punished some lax defending from the visitors. Brabin largely kept faith with the team who started against Kettering, making just one change his side from that game.With the returning Murray lining up in defence, Gnakpa made way for Jake Howells - so impressive last Tuesday - to move forward into midfield. Up front, the burgeoning partnership of Walker and Morgan-Smith were given another chance to show what they can do. The Hatters made a bright start and a confident-looking Morgan-Smith went close with a bending right-foot effort from just outside the area early on. On 10 minutes, a beautiful diagonal ball forward from Kroca set Willmott clear down the right flank, but he could only put the ball wide after a neat jink into the box. It was a case of the wrong man in the wrong place after quarter of an hour when, after lovely work from Adam Newton and Alex Lawless set Kroca - of all people - clear on goal. The Czech defender scooped the ball high over the bar to crash into the Oak Road end scoreboard. Moments later it looked as though the Town had broken through again, as Southport's sluggish back four struggled to cope with the hosts' quick attacking play. As Walker flicked the ball on for Morgan-Smith, the Sandgrounders' goalkeeper Tony McMillan raced out just in time to prevent the young striker from registering his second goal in two games. Morgan-Smith soon got his name on the score-sheet though, curling a fine 20-yard free-kick around the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner of McMillan's goal to send the Town in front on 22 minutes. The ball was in the net again five minutes later as Howells finished expertly after more neat interplay between Walker and Morgan-Smith, but the linesman ruled that the teenage wide-man was off-side. Morgan-Smith, really enjoying his football, popped up wide on the left on the half-hour mark, cutting inside to float in a perfect right-footed cross which landed on George Pilkington's head, but the Town skipper's firm header went just over the bar. The Town were playing some real Champagne stuff, and furthered their lead in excellent fashion on 39 minutes. Lawless broke forward and timed a through-ball perfectly for Willmott to skip clear, get his body between the last defender and the ball, and flick a top-class finish over the 'keeper and into the net. With the Hatters oozing confidence and creating chances at will, Southport - and in particular their centre-back Earl Davis - were all at sea. With the visitors failing to spring an effective offside trap time and time again, Morgan-Smith, Pilkington and Howells all went close as the Town took a two-goal lead into the break at half-time. After the break, the visitors came out of their shells slightly, making a much-needed double substitution. On came a striker - Matty McNeil - for midfielder Paul Barrett, while Adam Flynn replaced Rob Marsh-Evans who had endured a torrid time at centre-back in the first period. The Town showed their own strength in depth as they withdrew goal-scorer Willmott for a well-earned rest, replacing him for Gnakpa. Gnakpa showed his credentials on 65 minutes when he took the ball past two Southport players down the right before rolling a nicely-weighted ball into Walker, whose first-time shot fizzed just the wrong side of the bar. The visitors mustered a rare shot on target when McMillan's long punt forward was well won in the air by McNeil, allowing another substitute - Tony Gray - to unleash an early half-volley. His shot was well struck, but straight at Mark Tyler, Moments later Tyler was called into action again when the lively forward John Paul Kissock fired a free-kick on goal when everyone was expecting a shot, the Hatters' number one reacting smartly to get across and keep out the shot at his near post. Walker should have extended the Town's lead with 20 minutes to go after being put through by the unselfish Lawless, but again his shot was too high. The visitors should have had to battle out the final minutes of the game with ten men, but Robbie Williams was only booked for his dangerous lunge on Howells. The Town's Murray registered his first Hatters goal in 76 appearances with six minutes left on the clock. Flicking the ball over his marker, the Irish left-back darted into the area, and his shot with the outside of his foot was deflected in. It was 4-0 two minutes later when Lawless again broke through the midfield, and miss-hit his shot into Walker's path. It looked as though the striker had let another chance go begging as McMillan saved his low drive, but the former Barrow-man was alert to react and poke in the rebound despite the close attentions of Davis in the Sandgrounder's six-yard box. Kroca then made amends for his earlier missed-opportunity with his first goal at the Kenilworth Road end. Keane's free-kick found Pilkington at the back post, and the captain nodded the ball across for his defensive partner to knock the ball in from two yards out. And, completing a remarkable final few minutes, Gnakpa made it sixth from the penalty spot after being brought down by the 'keeper. The Frenchman slotted into the bottom-right hand corner after an elaborate run-up to delight the home crowd. The visitors' misery was compounded after the final whistle when the hapless Flynn was shown a red card for foolishly booting the ball at the referee. The day belonged to the Town though, and with Brabin recording his first victory in such emphatic fashion, the Hatters will look to take the confidence and momentum gained from this win into the crucial run-in. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 6 (Morgan-Smith 22, Willmott 39, Murray 84, Walker 88, Kroca 90, Gnakpa 90) Southport 0 Result FULL-TIME All over here...6-0...report, reaction and photos to come. Get in! 90 mins + 6 GOOOOOOOOAL! HATTERS 6-0 Southport - Up steps, Gnakpa, sends McMillan the wrong way. Make that six... 90 mins + 5 - PENALTY TO LUTON 90 mins + 3  GOOOOOOOAL! HATTERS 5-0 Southport - ...and there you go. Deep free-kick swung in by Keane to the backpost that Pilkington heads across goal at ZDENEK KROCA taps home 90 mins - Three added minutes to find a fifth... 88 mins  GOOOOOOAL! HATTERS 4-0 Southport - Two goals in four minutes and the Hatters make it four goals will celebrate Gary Brabin's first victory in charge in style. Lawless plays a pass through to JASON WALKER. His first touch isnt' great, his second is a shot blocked by the keeper before his third sees him poke the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Williams on the line. Get in! 84 mins  GOOOOOOAL! HATTERS 3-0 Southport - He's waited 76 games and now he has his first goal for Luton Town as FREDDIE MURRAY dinks the ball over his marker and drives a shot goalwards that takes a deflection and lands up past McMillan. Smiles all round. 3-0, good night. 84 mins - The Town are still well on top here pushing for a third. 80 mins - Another Southport man in the book as Robbie Williams gets him name in the ref's book for a crude challenge on Howells. 10 minutes left now. 78 mins - Time ticking down for the visitors to get back into this and Tyler is on hand to make another catch, this time from Gray's header from McGinn's left wing cross. 75 mins - 15 minutes left for the Town to see this out and grab a few more goals and land a few press box predictions. 72 mins Second change of the afternoon for the Town as Barnes-Homer replaces Morgan-Smith. 71 mins - Oh oh it should be three. The Town break clear, Gnakpa finding Lawless. He's clean through but under pressure so squares it to an unmarked Walker but the striker sliced it, catching his shot all wrong and it ends up in the crowd. Plenty of applause for the move from the home faithful though. 70 mins - Tyler is being over-worked as he flings himself to his right to tip away a goal-bound free-kick from Kissock from the left-hand flank. 69 mins - More work for Tyler but it's easy pickings for the Town stopper as he tries his luck on the half-volley from the right-hand edge of the penalty area. A decent effort. 68 mins - Matthew Barnes-Homer looks as though he's going to play a part in the final 20 minutes here. 66 mins - Back come the Town though as Gnakpa does well on the edge of the penalty to square to Walker who blasts a first-time shot from 18 yards over the crossbar. Great effort and not far away. 65 mins - It's been a pretty uneventful 20 minutes here but then Tyler needs to be alert to snuff out a chance for the visitors as Kroca's poor backheader drops to the feet of striker Tony Gray eight yards out. Phew. 60 mins - On the hour we've got a stoppage in play as Earl Davis, the visiting defender, is down receiving treatment. 59 mins - The attendance is with us: 5,844 which includes 84 shouting for Southport. 56 mins  First change of the afternoon from Gary Brabin as Gnakpa replaces Willmott. 54 mins - Few chances to report so far in this second half but Southport are showing more attacking intent. They trailed 2-0 at Mansfield in the week and fought back to earn a point in a 2-2 draw. It looks as though Claude Gnakpa is going to join the fray soon. 50 mins - Decent start to the second half for the Hatters. Howells is on fire too, as he combines endeavour and skill to race into the box down the left flank, nutmegging his marker in the process. He cuts the ball back to Kroca who in turn tries to find Lawless but the move breaks down. 47 mins - No changes for the Town at the break but Southport have made two, bring on Adam Flynn and Matty McNeil for Marsh-Evans and Barrett. 46 mins Annnnnnnnnd we're off as the second half gets underway with Southport shooting towards the Oak Road end. The Town are now attacking the Kenilworth Road end. HALF-TIME The Town are playing some fantastic football and deservedly lead at the break here thanks to goals from Amari Morgan-Smith and Robbie Willmott. More to come in the second half. Keep it here. COYH! 45 mins + 1 - Confidence is great thing and Morgan-Smith has got it in abundance at the minute. He latches onto the pass down the left, cuts inside and hits a shot that McMillan needs to keep out, diving down to his right. 45 mins - Two added mintues to play at the end of this first half and Pilkington almost get his name on the scoresheet but his stabbed effort with the outside of his boot from 10 yards goes a yard wide. 44 mins - A minute to the break and we've just noticed Willmott is up top now with Walker and Morgan-Smith is operating on the right flank. 42 mins - Half a sniff for 3-0 as Morgan-Smith heads over a left-wing corner from Willmott at the near post. 39 mins GOOOOOOAL! HATTERS 2-0 Southport - The Town are playing some great stuff and this is a lovely goal. The Hatters clear a Southport corner and Lawless finds space in the centre of midfield. All of a sudden it's four on four as they flood forward. Lawless spots ROBBIE WILLMOTT and slips him through one on one with McMillan. The winger rounds the goalkeeper and clips in a delightful finish for his first goal at Kenilworth Road. Get in! 37 mins - Morgan-Smith's superb free-kick still seperates the sides and that's because Southport's Matty McGinn can only find the Kenilworth Road end from the left edge of the penalty in one of the worst free-kicks I've seen this season. 32 mins - Yet another chance for the Hatters' second. The visitors half-clear Keane's free-kick and Morgan-Smith sends the ball back into the danger zone straight onto the head of Pilkington who sends his effort just over the crossbar. Good play once more and the crowd are lapping it up in the sunshine. 31 mins - Third Sandgrounder in the book and it's Earl Davis for belting the ball away after he'd been pulled up by the ref for handling a Walker pass. He can't believe it but it's silly booking. 29 mins - The ball is in the Southport net a second time but Howells, despite a lovely finish, isn't celebrating because he's a yard offside running onto Morgan-Smith's through ball after more good link-up play with Walker. 25 mins - Absolutely no doubt that the Hatters deserve to be in front. Southport look the shadow of the side that beat the Town so convincingly at Haig Avenue two weeks ago. 22 mins  GOOOOOOAL! HATTERS 1-0 Southport - It's been coming and finally the Town have the lead. Southport are penalised for handball 25 yards out and Willmott's free-kick dips just over the bar. However, the ref spots a handball in the wall and from that free-kick, five yards closer to goal, AMARI MORGAN-SMITH steps up and curls a lovely low free-kick past a motionless McMillan. Get in! 18 mins - Constant pressure from the Hatters and Southport are getting frustrated. So much so Matty McGinn becomes the first man in the book for a foul on his opposite number Willmott. From the free-kick, Keane's delivery is good, almost too good, and Pilkington can't get on the end of it at the back stick. 16 mins - Another minute, anothyer chance. This time Willmott's left-wing corner finds Walker at the back post but he can't guide his header on target and it drops just high and wide. The Town are well on top here. 15 mins - He's quick but not that quick as Walker pings a pass through to Morgan-Smith who breaks the Southport offside trap but McMillan, the visiting goalkeeper, is alert to the danger and boots clear. 14 mins - Chance. And it could be 1-0 to the Hatters. Kroca is still in the penalty box after those set plays and is found unmarked by Lawless' disguised pass. One on one with McMillan the defender just has to pass it home to open the scoring but can only scoop an effort on the scoreboard! 13 mins - Still the Hatters press. This game is being played exclusively in the Southport half at the moment and after the visitors defend a huge throw from Murray they half-clear a Willmott corner from the left before his follow-up shot is blocked. 10 mins - It's well and truly all the Town so far, Southport have barely had a kick. This time Kroca swings a superb long pass out to Willmott on the right flank. He heads into the box, ghosts past two defenders and slams a low shot into the side netting. Excellent stuff. Unlucky. 7 mins - More good work from the Hatters and they're unlucky not to be awarded a free-kick as tidy play from Murray high up the pitch results in Morgan-Smith seeing a shot charged down on the edge of the box. 4 mins - Nice stuff. The Town are playing some neat football and Morgan-Smith, fresh from his goal in midweek, curls a shot just wide of the post from 20 yards after linking up well with Lawless. The home faithful appreciated that. 3 mins - A bright start from the Hatters on this sunny day but no chances of note yet but Southport are defending very deep. 2 mins - The Town are lining up with Tyler in goal, Newton right back, Murray left back, Kroca and Pilkington centre-halfs, Howells on the left flank, Willmott on the right, Lawless and Keane in the middle and Walker and AMS up top. 1 min Annnnnnd we're off as the Town kick-off shooting towards the 50 or so Southport supporters in the Oak Road end. 14:56 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides onto the green, green grass of Kenilworth Road. Standby for handshakes and the coin toss and we're nearly ready. Enjoy the updates. COYH. 14:50 WATCH OUT! The Southport substitutes warming-up have just been surprised by the sprinklers springing into action to water the pitch before kick-off. It's still a beautiful Spring day here. 14:45 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS IN MEMORY OF IAN PEARCE Andrew Barringer: 4-0 Luton, Matthew Parsfield: 3-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 3-1 Luton, Justin Dealey: 5-0 Luton, Mark Wood, 3-1 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-1 Luton. So 3-1 then? 14:20 ONE WIN ALREADY The Town's Under-18s have extended their winning run to four matches following a 2-1 victory at Aldershot Town. Goals from Jean-Phillipe Yamfam and Ryan Dasilva. Well done boys. 14:15 OUR VISITORS Southport: McMillan, Davis, Whalley, Moogan, Daly, McGinn, Marsh-Evans, Barrett, Williams, Turner, Kissock. Subs: Flynn, Gray, McNeil, Blakeman, Dickinson. 14:05 ONE CHANGE The Town team is in and there's one change - Freddie Murray replaces Claude Gnakpa, who drops to the bench. Luton Town: Tyler, Newton, Kroca, G. Pilkington, Murray, Willmott, Keane, Lawless, Howells, J. Walker, Morgan-Smith. Subs: Graham, K. Pilkington, Gnakpa, Barnes-Homer, Carden. 13:45 HAPPY HARRY'S PREDICTION The Hatters' mascot has just walked past me and he's told me the Town are going to win 4-0 today. You heard it here first. 12:50 WEATHER WATCH Not a cloud in the sky over Kenilworth Road. It's an absolutely stunning sunny day in Luton. The ground always looks particularly fantastic when bathed in sunshine. If you're reading this and not coming to the game but in the local area please think again and pay on the turnstile and back the boys. 11:45 FOURTH TIME LUCKY? If you walked away from Kenilworth Road on Tuesday frustrated at Kettering's last minute equaliser then spare a thought for Gary Brabin. The new boss was, like us all, left speechless after the Poppies' last-gasp goal denied the Hatters three points. A week ago there was similar 90th-minute agony at Kidderminster.  "We're moving in the right direction," Brabin said yesterday. That there is no doubt and this afternoon the boss will be hoping it's fourth time lucky as the Town welcome one of his former clubs to Kenilworth Road, Southport. There could be a certain amount of irony should the Hatters earn their first victory under their new boss against the Sandgrounders given that two weeks ago it was a 2-1 defeat at today's opponents that saw Richard Money leave Kenilworth Road after one of the most disappointing results of the season. This afternoon both sides need the points. The Town's Play-Off place is far from secure while Liam Watson's Southport need the points to stave off the possibility of a return to the Blue Square Bet North. If the Hatters hold a one-goal lead going into the last minute there are sure to be plenty of anxious looks at watches but should they hold on the relief will be evident - and joy will probably be etched all over one man's face. Well once more, as ever, win, lose or draw 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 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 Gary Brabin 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 Gary 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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