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23:25 10th May 2011


Player of the season Mark Tyler was the Town's Play-Off hero at Kenilworth Road, saving a first-half penalty with the aggregate score at 3-1, as the Hatters produced another fantastic performance to book their place at City of Manchester Stadium for the Blue Square Bet Premier Play-Off final. After going 1-0 down early on, Tyler's intervention and goals from Zdenek Kroca and Jason Walker eventually saw the Town run out comfortable 5-1 winners over the two legs. Despite a spirited performance from Wrexham, Gary Brabin's men finished the job in splendid fashion after starting the game three goals to the good following last Thursday's away leg. If the Welshmen were to get anything from the game they knew they would have to start quickly, and they really came out of the blocks strongly as they created chances early on. Lee Fowler, so impressive when he came on as second-half substitute at the Racecourse on Thursday, entered the starting line up at the expense of Chris Blackburn for the visitors and signaled his intent with a long-range shot inside the first five minutes, which whistled past the post. And a breakthrough didn't take long to come as Andy Mangan netted the early goal the Dragons needed on nine minutes when he converted a low cross from Adrian Cieslewicz to give the visiting fans hope. The capacity Kenilworth Road crowd responded magnificently and the players rallied immediately; very neat football between Ed Asafu-Adjaye and Robbie Willmott down the left allowed first-leg hero Alex Lawless to get into the box and win a corner. From the resulting dead-ball George Pilkington was involved in a tussle in the box which could have seen a penalty awarded on another day. The speedy Cieslewicz was causing problems down the right early on, and Dan Gleeson had to be alert to head clear from inside the six-yard box when another dangerous cross caused panic in the box. Though under pressure at one end, the Town were still looking dangerous at the other, and Jake Howells went close with a 18th-minute half-volley from the edge of the area which curved just wide. Tyler produced his moment of magic on twenty minutes with a superb low penalty save to avert disaster, saving Gareth Taylor's 12-yard effort after Gleeson had been adjudged to handle Mangan's cross. It was a huge moment, and had the visitors gone two-up so early in the game, the whole nature of the tie could have been very different. In the electric atmosphere the players were visibly pumped up, and there was little love lost as tackles went flying in during the first period - the Dragons' Jay Harris was booked for crashing in on Howells in front of an incensed Main Stand Enclosure. To great relief, Kroca blew the roof off the stadium and settled the home crowd's nerves with a straightforward back-post header that looped over Wrexham 'keeper Chris Maxwell's head and into the net on the half-hour mark to send the Town into raptures. The goal settled the Hatters, and the midfield increased their control on the game in the latter stages of the half, even managing to bring out some of the slick one-touch passing that was so effective in the first leg. The Town came close to extending their lead even further just after the break, after a mistake from Wrexham's Mark Creighton. The big centre-back's back-pass was weak, allowing Willmott to nip in and take the ball past the goalkeeper and feed Walker, who managed to square to Claude Gnakpa. The big Frenchman unleashed a first-time pile-driver which the back-peddling Maxwell did very well to tip over the bar. Shortly afterwards, Walker's superb turn on the edge of the box was stopped illegally by a lumbering Creighton, and Maxwell had to be in top form again to tip Willmott's resultant free kick around the post. To give credit to the Welshmen, their heads didn't drop as they had done in the first-leg. Mangan came close again when he was allowed space to cut inside from the left on 60 minutes, and a miss-kick from the otherwise impeccable Lawless momentarily caused chaos in the Town box before Pilkington tidied up. Willmott, still hungry to add to the Hatters' lead, twisted and turned on his way into the box on 67 minutes, before forcing another smart stop down low from the impressive Maxwell. The young 'keeper again thwarted Willmott with 20 minutes to go, flinging himself high to his right to palm away a curling cross-shot from the ex-Cambridge man who had drifted out onto the right wing. And the pair continued their personal duel when Willmott again cut in from the left, only for Maxwell to safely gather up his daisy-cutter of a shot. On a night that could have gone so differently had it not been for the early brilliance of the Town's goalkeeper Tyler, Maxwell was having a super game between the sticks at the other end. He made another top class save on 74 minutes, this time preventing Walker from getting on the score-sheet. Gnakpa's perfectly weighted through-ball beat the Dragons' off-side trap, but the Wrexham 'keeper did fantastically well to get down quickly and save as the Town's diminutive forward kept his shot firm and low. And the Welsh stopper made the save of the match just moments later, showing phenomenal reflexes to tip over what looked a certain goal from Howells at point-blank range. But Walker finally beat Maxwell to make the Town's passage to Eastlands secure with ten minutes to go, finishing well from close range from Gnakpa's cross after Howells had done brilliantly to pick out the winger's run into space on the right. After the early scare, the night had grown into one of the classic Kenilworth Road occasions as the packed stadium sang out the remaining minutes. It had been a magnificent performance over the two legs, with the men in orange fully deserving of their place in the final after crushing what had been billed as very strong opposition. Make no mistake, Wrexham are formidable opposition. Players like Fowler, Mangan, and Cieslewicz showed real quality at times, and a goalkeeper will rarely play so well across two games as the excellent Maxwell and still concede five goals. This puts Luton's extraordinary win in its remarkable context as they swept aside the Dragons and made them look ordinary. Confidence will rightfully be sky-high going into the final in Manchester, and if the Town can replicate this level of performance then they should stand a very good chance of returning to the Football League at last. Keep believing. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 2 (5) (Kroca 30, J. Walker 81) Wrexham 1 (1) (Mangan 8) Aggregate score in brackets FULL-TIME IT'S ALL OVER! THE TOWN ARE IN THE FINAL - Stay tuned for reaction, photos and whole lot more! See you in Manchester! 90 mins + 4 - Into the last minute. Pretty sure there's going to be people on the pitch, judging by those below the pressbox! 90 mins + 2 Second change for the Town, Keane off to a great ovation and on comes Adam Newton. 90 mins - Four added minutes to go. Eastlands in touching distance... 89 mins - A minute left, Wrexham still pushing for a goal back as Cieslewicz blasts over. 88 mins First change and two minutes left with Matthew Barnes-Homer replacing Gnakpa. 85 mins - Five to go...Tolley tries his luck for the visitors from 20 yards out which takes a nick of a Town man for a corner, flying over the bar, but Wrexham can't do anything with it. Atmosphere absolutely incredible. Loving it here. COYH! 83 mins - Seven to go and surely this is all over. Another goal in this for the Town as the push and Wrexham commit everyone forward in a last-ditch attempt to get back into this. 81 mins  GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! TOWN 2-1 Wrexham (5-1 agg) - The atmosphere is absolutely buzzing now because the Hatters are now four goals clear with nine minutes left. All of a sudden the Town break down the right and JASON WALKER is left free in the six yard box to bury, despite the best efforts of Maxwell. GET IN! MAN CITY HERE WE COME! 80 mins - 10 to go and the atmosphere in the ground is absolutely stonking. Just 10 minutes to hold onto a 4-1 aggregate lead and the Town are in the Promotion Final. Hold on tight! 78 mins - Maxwell may have been at fault for the goal but he's saved Wrexham from going further behind making a super save from Howells' first-time volley after Gnakpa had beat his man down the right to ping a cross into the mix. Great stop. 76 mins - Final change from Dean Saunders then as Harris is replaced by the speedy Obi Anoruo. 74 mins - CHANCE. And it should be game over. Gnakpa clips a delightful ball over the top that Walker dashes onto, beating Lawrence for pace, but faced with Maxwell the striker fires a shot straight at the legs of the visiting stopper. From the resultant corner, Wrexham half-clear straight to Willmott who belts a shot goalwards first time but keeper saw it all the way and is able to make a simple save. 73 mins - Another minute, another effort from Willmott, beating two players before sending a shot from 20 yards into the arms of Maxwell. Wrexham poised to make their third and final change. 71 mins - Still the Hatters press looking for a fifth on aggregate? From a short corner routine, Willmott sees a cross-cum-shot clawed away by Maxwell as the pressure continues. Wrexham are yet to really throw the kitchen sink at the Town...yet. 69 mins - Over 20 to go now and it's almost curtains for the visitors as tricky wing play from Willmott sees the Town number 11 draw a fine save by Maxwell at his near post that was deflected goalwards. From the resultant corner whipped in by Willmott, Walker heads home but it won't count as Kroca had fouled a visiting defender. 68 mins - First wave of the night by Gary Brabin towards the Town faithful. 66 mins - Followed by a second as Andrews replaces Sinclair, who is on a booking. 64 mins - First change of the night for the visitors as Taylor is replaced by Tolley. 64 mins - It's a full house in the home areas: there are 9,078 in the ground night which includes 831 from North Wales. 61 mins - Almost a nightmare at the back from the Hatters as they can't clear their lines after three opportunities to do so. Wrexham win a corner but nothing comes of it as the ref signals for a foul. 59 mins - Back come Wrexham, Mangan driving a shot into the side netting that apparently, according to the ref, took a nick of Gleeson, and he awards a corner, which is eventually cleared. 57 mins - All the Hatters still as Asafu-Adjaye breaks forward from left back and tries his luck but his effort is way wide of Maxwell's left-hand post. 56 mins - Almost 2-1 as up steps Willmott from the resultant free-kick. He flies over the wall and looks for all the world that it's heading home before Maxwell dives away to his left to keep out the winger's effort. The Town are playing much better this half than they were in the first, that's for sure. 55 mins - Second man in the book for the visitors as Sinclair gets a yellow as he bundles Walker off the ball. Free-kick to the Town 20 yards out. 51 mins - End-to-end stuff and the Hatters almost make it 2-1. Creighton's poor back pass gets Maxwell in trouble. Willmott charges him down, wins the ball, finds Walker square who in turn does the same find Gnakpa who blasts a shot goalwards that Maxwell has to tip over. From the corner floated to the back post Pilkington sees a header hacked away by Wrexham. 51 mins - And then typically there is a chance and again the Town have Tyler to thank, diving away to his right to keep out Keates' vicious low free-kick. 48 mins - Town on top early in this half but nothing of note to tell you, bar a way-off target effort from Willmott down the left that eventually went out for a throw. 46 mins Annnnnnd we're off again as the Hatters restart us here, shooting to the Kenilworth Road end. No changes at the break for either side although George Pilkington was put through his paces before the start of the second half by sports therapist Jonathan Chatfield. HALF-TIME Well what a first half we've had here. A summary of the first half would probably take too long to describe. In a nutshell: Wrexham ahead inside eight minutes - nerves begin. Wrexham then awarded a penalty on 20 minutes. With a chance to make it 2-0 and 3-2 on aggregate, Mark Tyler saved Gareth Taylor's spot-kick. Relief. 10 minutes later: jubilation, nerves calmed - Zdenek Kroca looping home the equaliser on the night. Play-Offs, you've got to love them, haven't you? Check back in 15 minutes. 45 mins + 2 - Ball is in the Town net again but don't worry, Keates' tap-in is chalked off for offside as Obeng was ahead of the play. 45 mins - It's been all go out there so far and we're going to have a further three minutes added. 42 mins - Almost half a sniff for Wrexham as danger man Cieslewicz goes on a mazy run into the Town box after neat build-up before shooting at Tyler under pressure from Pilkington. The Town skipper is down, but looks set to continue. 40 mins - Five minutes to the break now. The first half an hour really dragged, the last 10 have flown by. Thank goodness. Anxious faces have disappeared but this is not over. 37 mins - So, how's the nerves out there? Great game for the neutral. But there aren't many of them inside Kenilworth Road tonight. 35 mins - Miles behind in terms of trying to tell you what's happening out there but now it's all the Hatters, oozing confidence all of a sudden with Walker the one showing it most. Then he becomes the first Town man in the book for booting the ball away after being flagged for offside. 31 mins - Almost 2-1 as the ascendancy turns the other way. Willmott ghosting down the left after good work from Walker but Sinclar clears under pressure from Howells. Then from the corner the ball is again in the Wrexham net but Keane's goal won't count with the ref spotting a foul. 30 mins  GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! TOWN 1-1 Wrexham (agg 4-1) - OUT OF NOTHING! Asafu-Adjaye floats a free-kick into the box and with Maxwell in the visiting goal in no man's land ZDENEK KROCA loops a header of the stopper to send Kenilworth Road into ecstacy and to settle one or two or 9,000 nerves. Get in! 28 mins - Wrexham are playing nothing like they did in the first leg. It's quite dramatic turnaround at the minute. The Town need to settle down. 27 mins - Almost 2-0 and the Hatters are finding it tough going out there. A long ball over the top catches Pilkington and Tyler in a pickle and the captain whacks the ball high into the sky which drops just over the crossbar for corner. 26 mins - First man in the book is a Wrexham as Harris - shown a yellow in the first leg - chops down Howells and gets a card for his troubles. 23 mins - Still Wrexham push, it's all the visitors, the Town have barely had a kick as Kroca clears crucially with Taylor inches away from connecting from close range. Quite incredible stuff here at Kenilworth Road. Still 3-1 on aggregate remember. 22 mins - Extraordinary stuff - rollercoaster stuff - this is Luton Town, remember. Player of the season Tyler plunging to his left to keep out Gareth Taylor's poor kick. 21 mins - SAVED BY MARK TYLER! 20 mins - PENALTY TO WREXHAM - Handball by Gleeson. 18 mins - Half a chance for the Hatters: the ball runs free to Howells 25 yards out who hits a left-foot shot just wide. That's better. 17 mins - End-to-end stuff and Dean Saunders' side are really going for this. Lawless is robbed of the ball on the edge of the Wrexham penalty area by a great tackle as he shaped to shoot. They then break but calm defending from Asafu-Adjaye in the right-hand position clears the danger. 16 mins - And again as the visitors break down the right once more and a combination of Tyler and Gleeson prevent it from being 2-0 inside 16 minutes. Again its Cielewicz, drawing a save from Tyler before the rebound is hacked off the line by the Town right back. Phew. 14 mins - All Wrexham and this is worrying. Obeng skins Asafu-Adjaye down the right. He squares a dangerous ball across the six yard box and, with Mangan lurking at the back post once more, Kroca has to concede a corner. 11 mins - Back come the Town and Pilkington goes down in the box under pressure from Sinclair but the ref's not interested. Nowt given despite huge shouts all round. 9 mins - The visitors are full of confidence now and they break down the left and win corner. Up goes the noise from the away end, but the Town clear the danger. This is nervy stuff - in here and on the pitch. 8 mins  GOAL! Town 0-1 WREXHAM (agg 1-3) - Well there was important talk of not allowing Wrexham any advantage early on but the Town have allowed them to just do that. Ciezlewicz glides down the right, beats Asafu-Adjaye and slides the ball across goal that ANDY MANGAN taps home at the back stick. 1-0 on the night, 3-1 on aggregate. 7 mins - And that's quickly followed by the Town's first chance. Gnakpa and Lawless, both scorers in the first leg, combine down the right that eventually sees the latter dink a shot with the outside of his boot from just outside the box that goes wide. 5 mins - First shot of the off target as Fowler looks up 25 yards out and drives a shot wide of Tyler's right-hand post. 4 mins - By the way, just in case you don't know the Town are lining up with Tyler in goal, a flat back four of Gleeson, Kroca, Pilkington, Asafu-Asafu, a middle three of Keane, Lawless and Howells, Willmott and Gnakpa on either flank and Walker up top. 3 mins - Not much to tell you in truth but Wrexham marginally on top early doors but nothing to worry about. As you'd expect the visitors have really got to go for it tonight. 1 min - Great noise inside the ground, apologies for the lack of updates over the past 20 minutes, been a tad busy. But we're set inside a packed pressbox. 1 min Annnnnd we're off as Wrexham get us underway, in all blue, shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end. 19:44 ALMOST SET The message is simple: Come you Hatters. 19:42 HERE THEY COME TREMENDOUS RECEPTION. FABULOUS COLOUR. Standby for updates... 19:40 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 2-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-1 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-1 Luton, James Cunliffe: 1-0 Luton, Bill Cole: 3-1 Luton. 19:25 T MINUS 20 MINUTES Exicitment and atmosphere building here... 19:00 THE TEAMS Town: Tyler, Gleeson, Kroca, G. Pilkington, Asafu-Adjaye, Keane, Lawless, Howells, Gnakpa, Willmott, J. Walker. Subs: Graham, Newton, Barnes-Homer, K. Pilkington, Owusu. Wrexham: Maxwell, Obeng, Ashton, Harris, Taylor, Mangan, Keates, Sinclair, Cieslewicz, Creighton, Fowler. Subs: Andrew, Tolley, Knight-Percival, Mayebi, Anouro. 18:50 TEAMS ARE IN: TOWN UNCHANGED 18:22 ON THE BOX Look out for Gary Brabin and Gary Sweet who will be live on Look East on BBC1 between 6.35 and 6.45pm. 18:00 BREAKING NEWS Five players from the Hatters' youth team will be signing professional contracts on the pitch at half-time at this evening's game with Wrexham. Click here for full story. 17:59 SORTE AO LUTON Whack this link through google translate and there you go. Samba-style football tonight, then? 17:55 MANIC It's been a wee bit busy at Kenilworth Road in the last hour so apologies for the lack of updates. 16:55 YOUR TWEETS Thanks so far for all your tweets. Use #hashtag #COYH LiamKelly83: "Let's finish off what we started at the Racecourse." J_SuBo: "Big game tonight." Danmcleod8: "Into a meeting in 10 minutes then once finished, off home then off to the theatre of dreams." theresonlyoneAP: "Sing your heart out for the town!" mattycrouch: "How can fooball make you feel like this? Jesus #nervouswreck." 16:20 EX-PLAYER TWEET Former Town defender, now at Wigan Athletic, Emmerson Boyce, on twitter @EmmersonBoyce: "After a great first leg, and a 3-0 goal advantage, I'm more than sure they will make it through." 16:00 IMPORTANT ARRIVAL Tonight's bumper 84-page souvenir matchday programme has arrived at Kenilworth Road. There's plenty to read inside so remember to pick up your copy to hear from Gary Brabin, George Pilkington, Gary Sweet, Stephen Browne and Nick Owen.Click here to find out more about our final issue of Talk of the Town of the season. 15:30 RIGGED UP The Premier Sports TV crew are here rigging up cameras and sound equipment around Kenilworth Road ahead of tonight. 15:10 ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT The Kenilworth Road pitch is now complete now that the white lines have been marked out onto the surface. 14:45 COUNTDOWN Five hours to kick-off... 13:25 FREE VIDEO - KEEP OFF The Kenilworth Road pitch is going to look superb tonight and we'd like to keep it that way for the players should we progress to the final. Why? Click here and find out. 13:05 PLAYER TWEET Winger Robbie Willmott @robbiew11: "Can't wait for tonight. buzzing." 12:40 FREE VIDEO COMING SOON Keep your eyes peeled on, we've spoken to the man responsible for turning the Kenilworth Road pitch into a lush, green baize after the quagmire it became after seven successive games earlier in the year. 11:55 PITCH PERFECT The Kenilworth Road pitch looks in fabulous order. Remember how bad it looked after eight successful home games? Anyway, we're off for a chat with head groundsman Richard Bird. 11:20 MATCHDAY MUSIC A multitude of songs are ringing around the offices at Kenilworth Road as we prepare for the running order for the public address system this evening. Got any requests? email, tweet or Facebook suggestions. 11:10 FROM FACEBOOK Town midfielderAdam Newton on Facebook: "Excited for a lively atmosphere @ Kenilworth Road tonight...could get noisy!", and earlier: "going to be @ Kenilworth Road about 7.30 later..feel free to come along." 10:55 WHO WANTS A BET? Three winners in the last three games our official fancies have been earning (some) of you earn some little bit extra dough. Our picks tonight include a 2-1 Town win at 7/1 and, of course, we're still backing right-back Dan Gleeson to get his first goal in Luton colours. Click here for our recommendations - you can pick up a free bet, too if you bet £5. 10:05 MATCHDAY MUSIC Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough currently bursting from computer speakers in the media office. 09:45 MORNING ALL Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, a very good morning to you all. We're live from a sunny Kenilworth Road and we'll have plenty of live build-up through the day. We're keeping it simple early doors so, for the time being, why not drop us a line and share your thoughts? COYH
    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.