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14:47 6th April 2011


More late drama denied Gary Brabin his first win in charge as the Town had to be content with a third straight draw. In a game that was eerily similar to Saturday's 3-3 thriller at Kidderminster, the Hatters dominated for long periods and twice took the lead before conceding a last-gasp equaliser to give Kettering a point. Brabin made four changes to Saturday's line-up as he continues to assess his new charges. With Matthew Barnes-Homer dropping to the bench and the injured trio of Dan Gleeson, Freddie Murray and Danny Crow forced to sit out, Jason Walker and Amari Morgan-Smith were paired together in a new strike partnership, while Adam Newton and Claude Gnakpa were given another chance to link up down the right. Meanwhile, there were familiar faces in the Poppies' line-up as Hatters legend Sol Davis started alongside his old Town team-mate Ian Roper in the visitors' defence. The Town started brightly, winning a couple of corners early on and seeing plenty of the ball, and Gnakpa gave an early indication that there would be no quarter given to old friends with a clattering - but fair - challenge on Davis inside ten minutes. Keith Keane fashioned the game's first real chance for himself on 11 minutes when he shifted the ball onto his right foot and sent a fierce shot towards the top right-hand corner, forcing Kettering's Willy Gueret into an acrobatic save. The Poppies' top-scorer Jean-Paul Marna showed his quality on the quarter-of-an-hour mark with a fine drag-back that dumbfounded George Pilkington, before his lay-off to the oncoming Danny Mills was bravely closed down by Keane. The hosts immediately broke up-field with Walker setting Robbie Willmott free down the left, who beat his man to get in the area before lifting a left-foot shot over Gueret's crossbar. If it seemed strange for Hatters fans to see their old favourite Davis lining up for the opposition, they were soon reminded of a familiar side to his game when he hauled down Gnakpa and had his name taken by the referee for a 20th minute booking. After a lively opening 20 minutes in which the Town played some slick attacking football without quite opening up the visitors' back line, well marshalled by Roper, Mark Tyler was called into action with a smart stop after Mills was allowed space to break down the left and cut inside for a low shot. The Hatters number one was quick to react again after half an hour when Callum Wilson ran through the midfield and fired a daisy-cutter towards the bottom-right corner, the goalkeeper getting down well to save and hold on to the ball. After finding his range so well on Saturday with an excellent curling free kick, Willmott stood over a dead ball with real intent after Morgan-Smith was floored by Roper. However his 25-yard effort was not as well hit as his goal at Kidderminster, harmlessly floating over the bar into the Oak Road stand. That was all forgotten though on 40 minutes when the Hatters scored their 100th Blue Square Bet Premier goal at Kenilworth Road to take the lead. And what a goal it was; man-of-the-match Jake Howells picked the ball up 30-yards from Gueret's goal, cut inside and laid the ball into Walker who was holding off Roper with his back to goal. The former Barrow man cleverly flicked the ball up and behind the defence into the path of Howells who had continued his run forward, and the 19-year-old completed the one-two with a fine low shot on the half-volley from just inside the area to ensure the hosts entered the half-time break one-nil up. Despite the Town's dominance it came as surprise when they were pegged level when Kettering equalised four minutes after the break. Lawless lost the ball in midfield and, after Mills exchanged passes with Marna, the Poppies captain Brett Solkhon rounded Tyler to finish into an empty net. Lawless did his bit to make amends soon afterward with a terrific diagonal ball to Willmott after breaking down the right, but the ex-Cambridge man could only balloon over the bar. The Hatters didn't have to wait long to regain the lead, though, on 54 minutes. Willmott and Keane combined and set Howells scampering down the left to cut a low cross back to Morgan-Smith, who controlled the ball in the six-yard box and poked past Gueret. Brimming with confidence after going in front for a second time, the Town looked determined to learn from their last outing at Kidderminster, where they had twice let the Harriers into the game after taking the initiative. The hosts kept the pressure on, piling the pressure on the visitors with Gnakpa, Walker and Morgan-Smith all going close. There was warm applause for Davis as he was withdrawn with 10 minutes to go - perhaps to save him from a second booking - for Marcus Kelly, and the popular left-back responded by saluting the Kenilworth Road End on his way to the bench. Town continued to search for a third, with Lawless sending a 25-yard shot fizzing past the post, and Walker sending over a chipped through-ball for Barnes-Homer, only for the ball to spin away from the Hatters' number 9 and into the arms of a grateful Gueret. Kettering weren't dead and buried yet, and only a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Kroca prevented substitute striker Adam Cunnington from breaking clear with just minutes left on the clock. And then, in heartbreaking fashion, the Town conceded a last-gasp equaliser in injury time for the second game running. After a goalmouth scramble in which substitute Luke Graham made a superb last-ditch tackle and Tyler saved well from point-blank range, the ball rebounded to the feet of Mills who poked home a rebound right at the death. The men in orange looked devastated as they trudged off the pitch at the end of a game which, again, had seen them twice look to have secured three points before letting the win slip. For minute-by-minute analysis see below Result from Kenilworth Road Luton Town 2 (Howells 40, Morgan-Smith 54) Kettering Town 1 (Solkhon 49, Mills 90+2) FULL-TIME - It's all over here at Kenilworth Road and it's a third straight draw for Gary Brabin and the Town. All the reaction, full report and photographs to come. Stay tuned. 90 mins GOAL! Town 2-2 KETTERING - More late drama and the Town look like they're going to have to settle for a point as the Poppies break down, Solkhon's involved again threading DANNY MILLS through on goal. His first shot is saved by the legs of Tyler but, as the ball runs free, Mills tucks home the rebound. Damn. 90 mins - We're into the last minute...and we've got three additional minutes to play. Meanwhile the Town make their third and final substitution as Paul Carden replaces Newton. 88 mins - Two minutes stand between Gary Brabin and his first three points in charge. Meanwhile family of Ian Pearce have selected Jake Howells as man-of-the-match tonight. 85 mins - Five minutes left on the clock - the attendance is 5,715 tonight which includes 132 from Kettering. 80 mins - 10 left on the clock and as the Hatters push for another, and Kettering look for a leveller it's entertaining stuff. Willmott plays in MBH with a super cross-field pass that he tries to square across the box but Gueret's there to cut out the danger. 78 mins - Apologies we've been away but we're back and in truth you haven't missed much, apart from an Lawless shot from 25 yards that bent wide and the subsitution of Luke Graham for Gnakpa. That change has seen Newton push forward to right midfield and Graham slot in at right-back. 69 mins - He's been waiting to come on for a good two minutes and now he can as MBH replaces goalscorer Morgan-Smith. Meanwhile the Poppies make a double change with Adam Cunnington on for Wilson and Marcus Kelly for Davis who gets a great applause off from the home faithful. 68 mins - Tricky and strength from Gnakpa, who seems to be enjoying himself out there at the minute, see the Frenchamn stride through the Kettering defence. He looks up from a central position 25 yards out and, seeing Gueret off his line, attempts a delicate chip that the keeper jumps to catch. Good effort. 65 mins - Looks as though Matthew Barnes-Homer is going to join the fray. 62 mins - Action for Tyler as Kettering break as he leaps to his right to prevent Kieron St Aimie's daisycutter from 25 yards. Good save. 61 mins - A flurry of opportunities for the Hatters to make it 3-1 as Willmott whacks a low shot from the right-hand side of the area that is hacked away by Solkhon before Morgan-Smith fluffs a shot on the turn seconds later. 60 mins - Much better stuff from the Town and now they've got their noses in front once more they're looking confidence again. Walker chases down a lost cause which puts off Flanagan who concedes possession. 57 mins - Davis, on a booking, fouls Gnakpa down the right and the ref gives him the benefit of the doubt - another challenge like that and he'll be off. From the resultant free-kick pinged in by Willmott, Pilkington heads over. 54 mins GOOOOOOOOOAL! TOWN 2-1 Kettering - The Town are level for just five minutes and it's fantastic wing play from Howells down the left who turns his man and level with the six yard box pulls the ball back for AMARI MORGAN-SMITH who pokes the ball past Gueret. Get in! 53 mins - Chance for the Town to restore their lead as they clear a Kettering corner, Lawless shows excellent control and vision to fly down the right and switch the play to Willmott on the left but the former Cambridge winger can only lash over a shot from the edge of the area. 49 mins GOAL Town 1-1 KETTERING - After an even beginning to the second half the Town all of a sudden find themselves pegged level as the Poppies break down the left. Mills and Marna combine on the edge of the box to enable BRETT SOLKHON, the visiting skipper, to tip-toe his way through, round Tyler and slot home from a narrow angle. One apiece. 47 mins - No changes for either side at the break by the way. 46 mins - Annnnnnnnd....we're off again for the second half here as the Town kick-off shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end. HALF-TIME - Referee Kinseley calls time on the first half here and the Hatters go in deservely a goal to the good thanks to Jake Howells' fine strike five minutes before the break. Check back in the second half for all the updates. COYH! 45 mins + 1 - Almost a chance for the Town to double their lead before the break. Morgan-Smith ghosts down the left and hangs up a high, high cross to the back-post. Gnakpa outjumps Davis and nods goalwards that Gueret has to get his gloves to prevent from creeping in. 45 mins - We've got an additional two minutes added time to play before the break. 44 mins - A minute to the break here at Kenilworth Road and there's no doubt that the Town deserve to be in front. Plenty more goals in this. 40 mins - GOOOOOOOAL! TOWN 1-0 Kettering - Well that's a wonderful little goal and as the Town up the ante before the break they deservedly have the lead. JAKE HOWELLS drives forward, plays a nifty one-two with Walker and after steadying himself in the six yard, smashes a low shot past Gueret for his third goal of the season. That's the 100th Blue Square Bet Premier goal scored at Kenilworth Road by the way. Get in! 36 mins - Half a sniff for the Town as Roper and McKoy sandwich Morgan-Smith 25 yards out and Willmott, hoping for another free-kick wondergoal, steps up but this time the winger can only blast the ball a yard or two over Gueret's crossbar. 35 mins - Still goalless and not a lot to shout about although the Hatters are still bossing possession. 30 mins - Shot for Tyler to deal with as Callum Wilson tries his luck from distance that is saved comfortably by Tyler. No worries there. The game is low on quality at the minute. 26 mins - Sorry five minutes without an update. A mixture of poor internet connection and, well, not a lot to report from what's happening on the pitch before my eyes. Still goalless. 21 mins - Kettering are showing real pace on the break and it's that man Mills again, slaloming down the left, past two challenges before firing a shot into the hands of Tyler. From the keeper's throw the Town catch the visitors out but despite time and space Walker's pass to Willmott in the box is over-hit. 19 mins - First man in the book? Sol Davis. As he sends Claude flying on the edge of the penalty area as the Frenchman looked to burst past him. From the resultant free-kick Walker sees a shot blocked by his own man, Pilkington. 18 mins - Back come the Poppies and there's a real chance for the visitors. Marna flys down the left and pulls the ball back for Mills who shows a nifty turn in the box to poke a left-foot shot goalwards that Keane, standing two yards away, blocks. 13 mins - Hopefully these updates are getting through to you out there. Unfortunately the signal isn't strong enough for me to load my fancy little goal, whistle and substitute icons. Sorry about that. 11 mins - Then there's action for us to frantically type-up. Keith Keane picks the ball up 25 yards out and, encouraged by the Kettering supporters to shoot, he does so and forces visiting goalkeeper Willy Gueret into evasive action to tip away the Town number 4's, shot destined for the corner, over the bar. Good all round football. 9 mins - The Sol Davis of old, getting stuck into tackles is evident here, as he and Gnakpa go for a 50:50 which produces a loud bang of legs clashing together. Then Roper gets in on the act to clear a Howells cross after good work from Willmott. 8 mins - All the Town so far, well and truly encamped in the Kettering half but there have been no alarm bells for the visiting defence so far. 4 mins - Quiet start here at Kenilworth Road. We might have a slight issue with the internet connection in the press box but nothing of note has happened to tell you about as yet. Sol Davis and Ian Roper are in the Poppies defence, by the way and both got a good reception. 2 mins - Okay the Hatters are lining-uo with Tyler in goal, Newton at right-back, Howells at left-back, Kroca and Pilkington at centre half, Keane and Lawless in central midfield, Wilmott on the left wing, Gnakpa on the right and Morgan-Smith and Walker in attack. 1 min - Annnnnd we're off here at Kenilworth Road with the Town attacking the Oak Road end after a magnifcent minute's applause for Pearcey. Enjoy the updates. 19:44 MINUTE'S APPLAUSE Rest in Peace Ian Pearce. 19:43 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides on the Kenilworth Road pitch, Town in orange, Kettering in red shirts, black shorts, black socks. 19:40 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS IN MEMORY OF IAN PEARCE Andrew Barringer: 5-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, Matthew Parsfield: 1-0 Luton, Simon Oxley: 2-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-0 Luton, Mike SImmonds: 3-1 Luton. 19:06 THE TEAMS Luton Town: Tyler, Newton, G. Pilkington, Kroca, Howells, Willmott, Keane, Lawless, Gnakpa, Morgan-Smith, J. Walker. Subs: Graham, Barnes-Homer, Carden, K. Pilkington, Owusu. Kettering Town: Gueret, Davis, Roper, Flanagan, Marna, O'Neill, Wilson, Mills, Solkhon, McKoy, St Aimie. Subs: McDonald, Kelly, Cunnington, Bailey, Noubissie. 19:00 FOUR CHANGES Adam  Newton, Amari Morgan-Smith, Claude Gnakpa and Jason Walker start. Full teams to follow. 18:30 WEATHER WATCH Overcast and cold in LU4. 18:00 TWO YEARS AGO TODAY   Johnstone's Paint Trophy winners 2009. 17:00 CHARACTER AND CONFIDENCE Disappointment and frustration maybe but, as Gary Brabin has said in the wake of the last two matches that have seen the Town draw against Barrow and Kidderminster, steps in a positive direction have been taken in the past seven days. The new boss is desperate to get that first win in charge. Three points were so close to being obtained at Aggborough on Saturday. "Gutted," Brabin was afterwards. Whilst he was disappointed with some of the defending that led to Harriers earning a point in a game the Hatters should have won, Brabin was pleased with the forward thinking positivity and, more importantly, the confidence that seemed to engulf his side in that second 45 minutes at Kiddy. Confidence and character is what the boss wants for the final eight league matches of the campaign. If the Hatters can go into the end-of-season lottery come May motoring then who knows what can happen? Tonight mid-table Kettering Town stand in Brabin's way of getting that particular monkey of his shoulders in what will promise to be an emotional night at Kenilworth Road. The Club will be paying their respects to BBC Three Counties presenter and Luton Town Show commentator Ian Pearce who died last week. A minute's applause is the order of the night moments before kick-off, and rightly so. On a poignant evening at our famous old ground, a win, under floodlights, is what everyone wants. Do it for Pearcey, do it for Brabs. Remember:  together we will conquer. COYH. 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!  
    Data provided by Press Association


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