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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
23:23 25th April 2011

HISTON 0-4 TOWN - REPORT & ANALYSIS

The Hatters strolled to their second successive win by recording a comfortable victory over bottom-of-the-table Histon. Two goals from Matthew Barnes-Homer and a goal each from Amari Morgan-Smith and Claude Gnakpa sealed their third win under new boss Gary Brabin. Brabin made seven changes to the side that beat Eastbourne 3-0 at Kenilworth Road. Kevin Pilkington, Luke Graham, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Adam Newton, Amari Morgan-Smith, Matthew Barnes-Homer and Paul Carden came into the starting XI for Mark Tyler, George Pilkington, Keith Keane, Jake Howells, Lloyd Owusu, Claude Gnakpa and Jason Walker. For Asafu-Adjaye, who was only recalled from a loan spell with the Stutes last week, it was only his second league start of the campaign. In spring sunshine the Town almost found themselves a goal down within three minutes as a right-wing break from the Stutes saw Omer Riza cross from the right. His centre however went awry but it sliced its way to Kevin Pilkington's near post and rebounded off the upright much to the surprise of the Hatters' faithtful. Histon continued to press in search of an early goal and Pilkington had to be alert to keep out Antonio Murray's expert drive from the edge of the area. However, those early scares woke the Town up and, after Luke Graham headed over on 10 minutes, two minutes later the visitors had the lead with a move of real quality. Amari Morgan-Smith burst down the left and fed Matthew Barnes-Homer on the edge of the area. The striker's tidy touch teed up Alex Lawless who in turn played first-time pass into the path of Morgan-Smith who, continuing his run, struck past Wes Foderingham who despite his efforts could only parry the ball onto the crossbar before the ball bounced over the line. Back came the Stutes looking for an instant reply, and Pilkington had to be at his best to keep out Lee Smith's daisycutter from the edge of the area, diving at full stretch to his right having seen the ball late through a crowd of players. Morgan-Smith came close to doubling his and the Town's lead on 23 minutes when he took down Robbie Willmott's deep right-wing cross and blasted a right-foot shot goalwards that was blocked behind for a corner with the effort looking destined for the bottom corner. On a dusty pitch, the Hatters gradually took control against their relegated counterparts and Barnes-Homer was denied by two blocks in quick succession five minutes later as he burst into the area after good work from Morgan-Smith down the right. However Barnes-Homer was not to be denied on 35 minutes. Histon's threat had diminished somewhat in the April sunshine and the Town duly doubled their lead. Morgan-Smith turned goalscorer to creator - hanging up a high-cross that the hosts failed to deal with - and as they dallied Barnes-Homer was free to smash home his 18th goal of the season from six yards. Hurt by going further, behind Histon came within a whisker of making it 2-1 a minute later when Dee Okojie spurned a great chance to inside the six yard box before he was crowded out by the Town defence. Two goals to the good the Hatters were well in control and after the Stutes had blown several decent opportunities - including a Riza effort from 12 yards that travelled way over the crossbar -the Town almost made it 3-0 when Remy Clerma almost inadvertently put the ball past his own goalkeeper on 44 minutes following Willmott's low cross. As time ticked down at the end of the first half the Hatters and Morgan-Smith almost got another goal in first half injury time as his turn and rasping low shot was kept out well by home stopper Foderingham diving away to his left. The Town made one change at the interval with Gnakpa replacing Willmott and the visitors made a brighter start to the second 45 and it took Gnakpa just 66 seconds to make an impact as the visitors went three goals to the good. Lawless' defence-splitting pass looking for Barnes-Homer was cleared before the Hatters won a corner. Lawless's flag-kick from the right was whipped to the back post where the Frenchman rose above everyone in the penalty area nod home his 14th of the season with his first touch of the game. Barnes-Homer almost got a sniff in the hosts' penalty area after a fine long pass from Adam Newton on 54 minutes before Riza should have reduced areas a minute later when he raced clear of the Hatters defence. Stepping on the ball did not help his cause but he regained his composure to drive a shot goalwards that was blocked by Graham. Barnes-Homer continued to pester the Histon defence but he fluffed his chance of a second on 59 minutes after he'd barged Morgan-Smith out of the way to blast a shot wide of the target. Histon continued to struggle, especially coping with the Town's forwards, and Brabin introduced Dan Walker for Morgan-Smith on the hour. Pilkington had largely been untroubled in the second half but he was almost beaten on 67 minutes when Smith's inswinging free-kick from 25 yards bounced inches wide. Gnakpa, full of confidence, almost made it four on 68 minutes after terrific cheeky wing play down the right, beating two men before drifting inside the box and letting fly with a low shot that hit a home defender. Pilkington did have work to do on 71 minutes when he had to prevent Clerima's close range header from squirming underneath his body after a right-wing corner. Substitute Dan Walker fired over on 78 after good work down the left flank and a minute later Lawless was replaced by Jason Walker as the Town pressed for a fourth goal. With nine minutes left on the clock Asafu-Adjaye did brilliantly to deny the hosts a consolation when clearing off the line with Lewis Taafe looking for a tap in following Okojie's low pass across the face of goal. Three minutes later the Stutes again came close to giving their home support something to shout about but a combination of Pilkington and Asafu-Adjaye were able to clear the danger with Smith close to converting another cross from Okojie. In truth the Hatters had taken their foot of the pedal, but Barnes-Homer headed over with three minutes left on the clock following tricky wing play from Gnakpa again before Jason Walker spurned a great chance to net 30 seconds later after he'd robbed goalkeeper Foderingham of the ball in the penalty area. As Histon flooded forward in search for a consolation the Hatters were quick to counter and after both Walkers came close to sealing it Barnes-Homer finished the rout with a quality strike from the edge of the area for his second and the Hatters' fourth. With results going the way they've gone the Town look set to meet Wrexham in the play-offs after the Dragons' victory over Tamworth. Get down to Kenilworth Road next Saturday to see part one against Dean Saunders' side. For minute-by-minute analysis see below.
Histon 0 Luton Town 4 (Morgan-Smith 12, Barnes-Homer 34, 90, Gnakpa 47) Result FULL TIME There's the whistle, and it's a very impressive win for the Town. Never really in doubt against a Histon side lacking in confidence, but the win was emphatic and the Hatters' attacking play was fantastic. Full report to follow. 90+1 mins GOOOOOAL! Histon 0 - Luton 4, Barnes-Homer. Super goal! MBH took the ball town in the air 20 yards out, turned, and smashed a right-foot half-volley into the net from range. Brilliant stuff. 90 mins Almost a goal there for Dan Walker. Gnakpa ran down the right and squared the ball, but Walker's shot was saved. 88 mins Appeals for a penalty there. Barnes-Homer held the ball up nicely and played a great through-ball for Gnakpa. The Frenchman cut into the area and seemed to be fouled in the box, but the ref allowed the grabbling between Claude and the Histon defender to continue. Gnakpa was then fouled again just outside the area, but then Carden's free-kick from wide was over-hit. 87 mins Oooh that's unlucky, great endeavour from Jason Walker confuses Foderingham who finds himself out of position, but as Walker bares down on goal he slips and the home defence can clear. 86 mins Town on the attack again, and more lovely skill from Gnakapa created the space for himself to send in a high, hanging cross from the right, but MBH's firm header goes narrowly over. 84 mins  Another near-chance for Histon. Okigie again attacked down the left and got in a low cross, but Pilkington managed to half-block Murray's shot to slow the ball down, allowing Asafu-Adjaye to get back and clear just in front of the goal line. Good stuff from Ed and Pilks there. 82 mins Wonderful defending there from Ed Asafu-Adjaye just saved a certain goal. Dee Okogie went on a good run down the left and squared a great low cross into the path of several oncoming Histon attackers, but Ed had tracked in from the left and slid across a dusty six-yard box for a fine last-ditch block. 80 mins In a high-scoring game such as this, defensive midfielders often go unmentioned, but it's worth pointing out that Carden and Newton have both had very, very tidy games in the middle for the Town today. 78 mins Luton change: Jason Walker Alex Lawless 76 mins Nice play from Gnakpa and Newton allowed Dan Walker to cut inside for a right-foot shot, but it's gone safely over the bar. 75 mins Let's continue that Brazil-theme and say that Gleeson's outside-foot cross-shot that just spun wide of the post was reminiscent of Maicon's goal in the World Cup against North Korea. That would be fairer than describing it as a dodgy miss-hit anyway! 72 mins It really has been a bit like watching Brazil at times in the Cambridgeshire sun! Great link-up play from Barnes-Homer sent Gnakpa free down the right for more Robinho-esque step-overs, before a neat through-ball for Gleeson who was charging forward on a Cafu-like run. His cross was blocked out for a corner but unfortunately the Hatters couldn't make the set-piece count this time. 68 mins It's the kind of dry, bouncy pitch that defenders hate, and the Town have tried to exploit that by hitting a few lofted through-balls over the back line for MBH to run on to. It hasn't quite worked yet but as the players tire in the heat it's a tactic that might yet prove fruitful. 67 mins Claude Gnakpa just made an attampt at what surely would have been goal of the season. Trapping the ball dead on the right, he went on a 'showboat' run, bamboozling three defenders with stepovers and turns, before working his way into the area and driving in a left-foot shot - unfortunately it was blocked but the Hatters support enjoyed that. 66 mins Histon change, Lewis Taafe Omer Riza 64 mins Riza drags a tame shot wide from the edge of the area after getting a lucky ricochet off Kroca. 62 mins Claude was flagged off-side there, but that was an exquisite chipped ball forward from Lawless. Luton playing with real confidence here. 60 mins sub Dan Walker Amari Morgan-Smith. Job done AMS, well played! 59 mins Good effort from MBH. The Town's number nine chests down a long ball and smashes a half volley just over from a tight angle. 58 mins The Hatters are almost playing four up front, with Lawless pushing right up alongside MBH, Gnakpa and AMS. That's inevitably leaving a bit of space free at the back, but as Histon's Murray drags another shot wide that doesn't look too dangerous a strategy for the time being. 55 mins A golden opportunity for Histon is thwarted by an excellent intervention from Luke Graham. A slip from Kroca had set the Stutes' Omer Riza on his way, but he dallied on the ball and Graham got across for a great sliding block. 53 mins Another one into the carpark from Histon as captain Antonio Murray breaks from midfield and scoops the ball high over Pilkington's goal. "Are you Watford in disguise?" chant the Hatters fans. 50 mins Good carnival atmosphere from the travelling Luton support. They're in fine voice and having fun. Squinting against the sun I can make out two men dressed as chickens and an inflatable parrott. Why not? 47 GOOOOOAL! Histon 0 - Luton 3 Gnakpa What did I just say? Lawless's corner is headed into the net for a goal for Gnakpa. Claude's first touch of the game and it's 3-0, class. Looks like those Easter eggs he told me about have had the desired effect! 46 And we're off again. Half-time substitution - Claude Gnakpa's on in place of Willmott. And with a Mediterranean sky, who would bet against the Frenchman enjoying himself out there? 45 mins HALF TIME HISTON 0 - LUTON 2 - An entertaining game so far. Histon look lively going forward and would have found the net if Kevin Pilkington hadn't been on the top of his game between the sticks for the Hatters. Some great attacking play from the Hatters has sent them into the break two goals to the good though. Morgan-Smith has been the real plus-point, he's having a super game out there. Log in again after half time for 2nd half coverage! 45 mins Super save from Foderingham in the Histon goal, and again it's that man Morgan-Smith causing problems. Nice work outside the box from Carden following a cleared corner found AMS, who cut inside the left-back and smashed a low shot at the far post, but the Stutes' keeper got down well for a top-class save. 41 mins Morgan-Smith is everywhere today, a great performance from him so far. Taking the ball past two players down the left, he puts in a delicious low cross into the six-yard box that was begging to be finished - but no Town player had got up that far and the Stutes cleared. 38 mins Two Histon shots in a minute go flying out of the stadium into the carpark. The travelling Hatters support are delighted, with gleeful chants of "that's why you're going down!", but Town boss Brabin is less amused and has a right go at his defence for leaving space open in front of goal. 37 mins Good game this. Histon are going for it and are actually putting the Town under a bit of pressure at times, but the Hatters are attacking with real menace. 34 mins GOOOOOAL Histon 0 - 2 Luton. Barnes-Homer. Yet more great play from Morgan-Smith, whose left-foot inswinging cross from the right lands right on MBH's head. His header isn't the strongest, but as no Histon defender reacts, Barnes-Homer has the time to volley in his own assist. Nice! 30 mins Morgan-Smith gets behind te defence again - he's playing very well. Barnes-Homer chipped the ball down the right, for AMS - who has swapped sides with Willmott - to chase onto. After some nice skills in the box his lay-off to the onrushing Lawless is just to short and the hosts clear 28 mins New manager Gary Brabin is learning about the fickle nature of Hatters fans - the visiting supporters chant 'Brabin give us a wave', he obliges, and they reply with a chorus of 'You fat so-and-so'. I think he saw the funny side. 27 mins Lovely overlap from Gleeson, who gets forward well and swaps passes with MBH before his cross is blcoked 22 mins Another good effort from Moorgan-smith, cutting in from the left and striking a well-fit right footed shot, but the melee of Histon defenders block it. 19 mins Thanks for staying with us depite the reception problems. Hopefully there will be fewer delays from now. The Hatters have started well and are playing some nice passing football, though Histon - who have nothing to lose after already being relegated - are causing some problems with long-range shots. Pilkington equal to it so far though. 12 mins GOOOOOAL Histon 0 - Luton 1 And the Town go in front after some lovely football. Morgan-Smith cut inside and after some beautiful one-touch 'ticker-tacker' play in the box with BArnes-Homer and Willmott, Morgan-Smith finished the move with a good finish 10 mins The Hatters are coming back into the game after a shakey start, and good work from Barnes-Homer on the left win s a corner which doesnt come to much 8 min So the Town are lining up 4-3-3, with Pilkington in goal, Dan Gleeson at right-back, Kroca and Graham at centre-back and Ed on the left, Paul Carden sitting deep behind Newton and Lawless in midfield, with Willmott and Morgan-Smith playing either side of Barne-Homer up top. 7 min Sorry for the delay - we're having some signal problems early on here but they sem t be sorted, as Sparkes has another decent effort on gol, this time well saved by Pilkington in the Hatters goal. 3 min And there's an early chance for the Hosts as Ed Asafu-Adjaye is beaten down the right and Daniel Sparkes's cros--cum shot hits Pilkington's post. 1 min And we're off here - just give me a moment to tell you how the Town are lining up... 14:48 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Matt Parsfield: 3-1 Andrew Barringer: 4-0 Simon Pitts: 2-0 Mike Simmonds: 3-1 James Cunliffe: 1-0 Bill Cole: 3-0 Mark Wood: 5-0 14:42 PRESS BOX SUBSTITUTION This is Matthew Parsfield in the hot-seat today by the way, your usual web-editor Andrew Barringer is getting a taste of fame on 3CR and Diverse FM today as co-commentator to Simon Pitts. So don't blame him if your text-commentary isn't up to scratch this afternoon! 14:36 EGG-CELENT PREPARATION Extra team news just in - Claude Gnakpa assured me before the game that he has eaten "the right amount" of chocolate over the Easter weekend. Not too much, but enough. 14:30 SKIPPER The Town skipper this afternoon is Zdenek Kroca. 14:25 THE TEAMS Histon: Foderingham, Oyebanjo, Okay, Clerima, Riza, Murray, Sparkes, Mills, Stevenson, Smith, Okojie. Subs: Lawton, Hawkins, Cox, Taafe, Dowie. Luton Town: K. Pilkington, Gleeson, Kroca, Graham, Asafu-Adjaye, Newton, Carden, Lawless, Barnes-Homer, Willmott, Morgan-Smith. Subs: Tyler, Gnakpa, D. Walker, J. Walker, Poku. 14:15 SEVENCHANGES Kevin Pilkington, Adam Newton, Amari Morgan-Smith, Matthew Barnes-Homer, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Paul Carden and Luke Graham all start. Full team to follow. 14:10 IT TAKES TWO Ed Asafu-Adjaye, back in the Town group after being recalled from his loan from Histon is listed for both teams on the back of this afternoon's programme. 13:55 TEAM NEWS IMMINENT We've caught wind of the team unofficially but we can't say anymore until we get the official nod. Standby in five-to-10 minutes. 13:45 WHO IS, WHO ISN'T? The Town players are standing on the pitch. Hatters boss Gary Brabin is in the away dugout putting his thinking cap on as he writes down the team for today. No sign of George Pilkington or Keith Keane amongst the group. 12:45 GLORIOUS AGAIN Not a cloud in the sky here in Cambridgeshire. 12:10 BALANCING ACT Boss Gary Brabin hinted after Saturday's 3-0 victory over Eastbourne Borough he may ring the changes for today's Easter Monday meeting with Histon. As supporters I'm sure you're lapping up the prospect of another afternoon in the sun followed - hopefully - by witnessing a performance worthy of three points. For Brabin and co., though, the afternoon at the Glassworld Stadium is much more complicated. Juggling the need for three points to keep confidence up and continue the much sought-after winning mentality, Brabs needs to wrap his stars in cotton wool ahead of the Play-Offs that kick-off in just a week's time. It's becoming an increasingly tough period for the new manager ahead of the end-of-season shootout. Luckily he has a strong group of players to pick from that are adept at slotting into various positions on the pitch in different formation. Claude Gnakpa and Amari Morgan-Smith were forced off at Mansfield - thankfully they were okay - however, at York, Freddie Murray sustained a knee injury which has all but ended his campaign at left-back just a week after scoring his first senior goal in the rout of Southport. Against Eastbourne the manager had to withdraw Keith Keane after he'd sustained a dead leg in the first half. Brabin can do without injuries to his senior players at such a crucial stage yet he's aware for the need of three points and to keep the supporters smiling. But I don't think there's any doubt that's he's got you smiling again, anyway. With the Play-Off place secured the boss just wants to keep winning and with the greatest respect to Histon - like Eastbourne - already relegated, everyone associated with the club will look to still be smiling in the sun come 10 to five this evening. 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!  
    Data provided by Press Association

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