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17:08 17th April 2011


The Hatters' extended their unbeaten run under new boss Gary Brabin to five games after recovering from going behind inside 33 seconds to hold champions Crawley to a point. Steve Evans's side punished the Town when Kyle McFadzean's low ball into the six yard box was poked home by striker Richard Brodie past an exposed Mark Tyler. The Hatters were shell-shocked by going behind in such dramatic circumstances and the home crowd thought they had doubled their lead on seven minutes when Brodie volleyed against the crossbar following Craig McAllister's flick on. Scott Neilson's back post header was tipped over by Tyler on 17 minutes but the Hatters - playing a 4-3-3 formation, gradually got to grips with the threat of the hosts and began to assert pressure on the Red Devils. The Town were seeing plenty of the ball with Jason Walker, Robbie Willmott and Claude Gnakpa in particular worrying the home defence and lo and behold on 29 minutes they deservedly equalised. Walker placed a header into the path of Willmott who poked a shot goalwards that was saved by the legs of Scott Shearer but the ball ran loose to an unmarked and on-rushing Alex Lawless who finished first time to make it one apiece. Half chances continued to fall the Town's way as they upped the ante in search of a second before the break. George Pilkington saw a left-foot shot headed off the line by Dannie Bulma and Freddie Murray headed over following a clever corner routine. Willmott came within a whisker of putting the Hatters 2-1 up on 55 minutes when curling over a free-kick from 20 yards. The Town continued to dominate with Gnakpa, Lawless, Willmott and Walker the main tormentors-in-chief and with 18 minutes left they were given a man advantage when home defender Charlie Wassmer was sent-off for a second bookable offence. Despite that Crawley began to get on top but the Hatters came the closest to finding a late winner when Lawless was denied his second goal but an outstretched hand of Shearer to turn his shot around the post. Minute-by-minute analysis see below. Crawley Town 1 (Brodie 1) Luton Town 1 (Lawless 29) FULL-TIME It's all over here at the Broadfield Stadium and the Town have held the Champions by earning a well-deserved point. Reaction, reports and photographs to come. 90 mins - ...but we're going to have four more added in injury time... 90 mins - Inside the last minute here... 89 mins Second change of the night for the Town as Walker is replaced by Amari Morgan-Smith. 88 mins - There's 3,326 fans inside the ground here and that includes 310 shouting for the Town. 87 mins - CHANCE. Murray plays a ball to Lawless who looks up and bends a low shot that looks destined for thje bottom corner until Shearer sticks out a glove to keep it out. It remains 1-1. Just. Great effort and good all round football. 85 mins - Five minutes to find a winner... 83 mins - Another reminder to the fans to stay off the pitch once the celebrations kick-off at the end. Cue the chants of Champions around the Broadfield... 81 mins - Again a case of almost and nearly for the Town. Pilkington pumps a high ball into the box that is flicked on by MBH and Lawless to Kroca but before the big Czech can strike from 10 yards it's taken off him by Wilson's tackle. 80 mins First change for the Town and it's an attacking one with 10 minutes left. Matthew Barnes-Homer on for Carden. 77 mins - In fairness they might be down to 10 but all of a sudden it's all Crawley. They almost create half a chance as a last-ditch header away by Newton denies an opportunity for Cook at the back post. A crucial touch from the Town right-back. 73 mins - Immediate change for the hosts. Neilson is replaced by Glenn Wilson. A midfielder for a defender... 72 mins - A second yellow here...and it's for Wassmer - his second in four minutes - for a late challenge on half-way on Walker. He's shown a red card and the Town have a man advantage for the final 18 minutes. 71 mins - Gnakpa receives treatment and is down for two minutes. The free-kick is yet to be taken and up steps Willmott who sees his effort deflect off a Crawley head in the wall. 68 mins - The first subs in the book are followed by the first booking as Wassmer gets his name taken for a crude challenge on Gnakpa after he'd surged past four defenders. It was a super run from the Frenchman after Crawley originally thought they should have had a penalty at the other end. 66 mins - First substitions of the night are a double change by the hosts as Smith and McAllister are replaced by Willie Gibson and Jamie Cook. 65 mins - Still the Town press - half chances from fantastic football once more fall their way with Walker firstly bringing the ball out of the sky well to almost fashion a chance before he tries an acrobatic over-head that he slices wide. 62 mins - More good build up play from the Hatters, playing some good football down the right with Gnakpa and Walker combining releasing Lawless down the right but his shot from an acute angle just goes a yard the wrong side of the post. 61 mins - Then, typically, the Town the break, down the right with Walker running free with the home defence caught napping. However the striker can't pick out Lawless with his intended cut-back with the Hatters goalscorer ready to pull the trigger 15 yards out. 60 mins - An hour gone here at Broadfield, but this first 15 minutes haven't lived up to the first half showing. 57 mins - Back come the hosts but it's nothing to get concerned about as another long throw from Hunt is flicked on by Wassmer but McAllister can get on the end of it and Tyler can gather. 55 mins - Another chance for the Town. This time it's from a dead ball situation as they win a free-kick 25 yards out. Up steps Willmott who curls a right-foot shot that just - and only just - clears the crossbar. Good effort. 50 mins - Half a sniff of goal for the Hatters, Pilkington poking the ball at goal after nice build up play from Lawless. Comfortable catch for Shearer. 49 mins - Hearts in mouths for the Town as back come the hosts once more. The ball drops to Brodie who tumbles in the box looking for a pen but the ref's not interested. 47 mins - Oh that's close as Crawley hit back. Smith chips in a deep free-kick that Wassmer rises to head goalwards. It looks as though the ball is going to drop to Brodie by the long legs of Kroca deny the striker a second as he clears from three yards. 46 mins - Bright start from the Hatters to this half inside the first minute. Carden squares to Lawless who swaps passes with Gnakpa down the right. His cross from the flank is low and dangerous but it can't quite pick out Willmott six yards out. 46 mins Annnnnnnnd we're off for the second half as the Town kick-off the final 45 minutes. They're shooting towards the pocket of fans from Bedfordshire in the left hand corner now. No changes for either side at the break. HALF-TIME Pretty decent half of football from Gary Brabin's men as referee Berry signals for the interval. I say pretty decent, considering the first 33 seconds saw them fall a goal behind. Since that the Town have more than matched the champions and are deservedly level. Come back in 15 minutes, won't you? COYH. 45 mins - Chance. Nice little corner routine from the Town as Willmott pings his right-wing effort to the far reaches of the penalty area where Fred Murray races onto and powers a header over the bar from 15 yards. Almost his second in as many games. Nice. 40 mins - Five minutes to the break and the Hatters almost have a chance to lead. Crawley gift Walker the ball 30 yards from goal. The Town flood forward - Walker finds Howells. He races through but the ball falls on his right foot and before he can switch it onto his left to work a shot, Crawley clear. 37 mins - After a chance for Crawley to restore their lead the Town the break and win a free-kick down the right that Willmott curls in. Everyone misses it, including Shearer, who grabs thin air, but the queue of Hatters attackers at the back post can't react in time to turn it in, including Walker who slips. Chance, that. 34 mins - Still the Town press. Willmott whips in a corner from the left and is met by Pilkington at the back post. He lashes a left-foot shot goalwards that looks to be heading in before home skipper Dannie Bulman heads away. Unlucky (again). 31 mins - All the Town now and it's the hosts turn to look shaky at the back as firstly a Walker shot is charged down from six yards before Willmott's right-wing corner is headed goalwards by Walker again neither him or Pilkington can stab home the loose ball. Unlucky. 29 mins  GOAL! Crawley 1-1 HATTERS - That's deserved in my book. A shaky start no doubt but the Town are level. Willmott plays a one-two with Walker and is through on goal. The winger's shot is saved well by the legs of Scott Shearer but the rebound is knocked home by the on-rushing ALEX LAWLESS who steers home a great finish. Get in! 27 mins - And again, this is better from the Town. Gnakpa slips in Walker down the right but his cross, aimed for Willmott, is hacked clear by McFadzean. 25 mins - The Hatters aren't getting much to feed off in the Crawley penalty area and then Murray fizzes in a low pass into the feet of Walker but, trying a first time shot, can't quite get a decent connection on it and the hosts can clear. 23 mins - Another chance for the hosts. A long throw from the left from David Hunt is flicked on and after a game of head tennis, an acrobatic effort from Smith, with his back to goal, just clears the crossbar. 22 mins - Back come Crawley - this is pretty end-to-end stuff given that early goal. Smith looks up from the right hand edge of the penalty area and blasts a shot that takes a deflection behind for a corner. 19 mins - The Hatters are getting a lot of joy down the right flank through Gnakpa and the Frenchman and Newton link up well but the latter's cross can't pick out a man in navy. Seconds later nifty play from Walker down the left sees the Town flood forward. He plays in Gnakpa. He cuts inside once in the box but sheer numbers of defenders crowd him out. Better from the visitors. 17 mins - Work for Mark Tyler this time and it's definitely necessary as a big, high cross from the left finds Scott Neilson at the back post, 10 yards out, who sends a header goalwards that looks like it's going to creep underneath the crossbar until the Town goalkeeper reaches up and tips it over with the faintest of fingertips. 15 mins - Half a sniff for the hosts to double their lead as a left-wing corner from Smith is headed over by Josh Simpson from six yards. 13 mins - Slowly but surely the Hatters are getting into this now but they've made hard work for themselves after conceding so early. 10 mins - The Town haven't had much of the ball so far but then Gnakpa turns left-back Howell down the right, bypasses Wassmer before hitting a shot from 20 yards that is blocked by a number of Crawley players and even Jason Walker. Crawley then turn defence into attack as Ben Smith hangs up a high left-wing cross that Brodie heads wide, getting above Murray at the back stick. 7 mins - Almost all of the Broadfield Stadium think it's 2-0 - me included - as a right-wing cross is headed on by Craig McAllister into the path of Brodie who arches a left-shot goalwards that cannons back off the underside of the crossbar. Blimey. Still 1-0. Just. 3 mins - Still quite stunned. For the record it looks as though Walker is up top with Gnakpa on the right and Willmott on the right in a three-pronged attack. Carden, Howells and Lawless playing in the middle of the park. 1 min  GOAL - CRAWLEY 1-0 Town - Well, I'm speechless. Crawley win a left-wing corner, which is cleared by Carden to RICHARD BRODIE who sends the ball back into the box with intent with a shot that goes through a forest of players and beyond Mark Tyler. Cue delirious scenes in the home ends. Incredible. Timed at 33 seconds on my watch. 1 min And we're off, it's party time for the hosts but the Hatters are looking to be party poopers. Enjoy the updates. COYH! Crawley gets us underway. 19:42 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides onto the Broadfield Stadium pitch. Come on you Hatters. The Town are in navy blue shirts, white shorts and socks whilst Crawley are all in red. 19:40 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS IN MEMORY OF IAN PEARCE Andrew Barringer: 2-1 Luton, 2-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 1-1, Ian Ryan 1-1. 19:30 FILLING UP Thousands of Crawley fans are streaming into the Broadfield Stadium to witness their first game since they won the title. The Town fans are away in the far left hand corner as we look. Just over 300 tickets were sold from the Kenilworth Road ticket office. 19:20 NICE WORDS Crawley boss Steve Evans writes in his programme notes: "Our visitors are the one big giant in the Blue Square Bet Premier, they have a talented squad of players and after I tonight I wish them every success as they head to the play-offs. As a football club they deserve and need [Football] League football." 19:15 THE TEAMS Here they are then, as promised. Crawley Town: Shearer, Hunt, Smith, Simpson, McAllister, Bulman, Wassmer, Howell, Neilson, McFadzean, Brodie. Subs: Rusk, Jordan, Wilson, Gibson, Cook. Luton Town: Tyler, Murray, G. Pilkington, Kroca, Newton, Willmott, Carden, Lawless, Gnakpa, Walker, Howells. Subs: Gleeson, Graham, Morgan-Smith, Barnes-Homer, K. Pilkington. 19:10 TWO CHANGES Paul Carden and Claude Gnakpa start in the place of Keith Keane and Amari Morgan-Smith. 19:00 STANDBY Teams news should be with us shortly... 18:45 LOOK WHAT WE COULD HAVE WON The Conference title is sitting on a metal stool ready before the televised transmission. 17:50 WEATHER WATCH Sunny but plenty of big clouds around here in West Sussex. A chill when the sun goes behind them. 16:45 PARTY POOPERS The title is won. The celebrations can begin. For Crawley Town tonight. The Red Devils, crowned Conference Champions following their 3-0 win at Tamworth on Saturday, will receive their trophy and winners' medals after this evening's meeting with the Hatters. Tonight the Town play the role of the party pooper - hoping to spoil the Red Devils' televised trophy presentation. But, more importantly, they will want to show Crawley and the rest of the Blue Square Bet Premier their credentials as the side to join Steve Evans' side in League 2 next season. Now heading in the right direction under Gary Brabin, Saturday's 6-0 walloping of Southport made it four games unbeaten as the Town squad begins to blossom at the right time in the spring sunshine. Crawley's unbeaten record stretches a little bit further than that. 25 games in fact. Only Manchester United (and Dartford in the Trophy) have beaten Steve Evans' side since Newport County took three points off of them in the league on 16th October. There will no doubt be plenty envious glances from the Town contingent at the Broadfield Stadium this evening as the home side celebrate their success. But, as Brabin told the press yesterday, "I want the players to get used to the kind of atmosphere that will greet Crawley on Tuesday because we want some of that between now and the end of the season. Hopefully it will be good practice." Optimism. Belief. Confidence. That's what we like. Crawley titled their season back in July as "Project Promotion". Brabin often uses the phrase "firing on all cylinders". Some would say a victory tonight at the home of the Champions would be the ideal springboard for the Hatters' own push for promotion come May. Well once more, as ever, win, lose or draw this evening, 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 @ 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 - 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!  
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