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11:33 20th August 2011


The Hatters' opening game of the season ended in a draw as Gary Brabin's men struggled to break down a plucky Forest Green Rovers side. Visiting goalkeeper Matt Bulman made several fine saves, and the Town also had a goal-bound effort cleared on the line, but the hosts also had to survive a few scares of their own and were lucky to see a Kieron Forbes effort bounce down off the crossbar and out. Charlie Griffin put the visitors in front early in the second half before Dean Beckwith, in his first competitive appearance for the club since signing from Northampton, levelled for the hosts with a headed goal. The Town started brightly as the visitors sat back, but had to wait until the seventh minute for a chance, as Ed Asafu-Adjaye roamed forward and hit a speculative volley over the bar from 20 yards. Brabin named four new signings in the starting XI, and two of them almost combined to put the Hatters in front on 14 minutes. James Dance delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right, which met the head of Aaron O'Connor who had ghosted behind his marker from the left, but the former Rushden man's low header flashed agonisingly wide of the post. Dance continued to terrorise Rovers' left-back Chris Stokes, and showed great trickery to beat his man and cut a dangerous cross back to the edge of the 18-yard-box. Jake Howells checked his run and attempted to hit the ball on the volley, but his right-foot effort was always rising too high to trouble Bulman in the visitors' goal. Moments later the same duo combined again, with Dance cutting inside Stokes to square for Howells on his left-foot this time, but again the Welsh under-21 international couldn't keep his shot down. Town then switched the play to the other flank, where O'Connor had already shown that his pacey, direct play was going to trouble the Forest Green defence, and the athletic winger picked the ball up and cut inside before hitting a daisy-cutter which Bulman did well to get down and save. The Hatters were on the receiving end of a scare on 24 minutes, and had Kevin Pilkington to thank when he saved well from James Rowe after the Rovers' man broke through the midfield and shot from distance. But Alex Lawless responded by coming even closer for the Town as the home side broke forward, lashing a rasping right-foot volley which looked like a certain goal, only for Bulman to fling himself to his right and meet the ball with a strong fist down low. On 37 minutes Keith Keane won the ball in midfield and drove forward before shooting low from 25 yards, but Bulman was able to stop the shot and then gather at the second attempt. Target man Reece Styche had a rare effort on goal for the visitors on the stroke of half-time, shrugging Asafu-Adjaye off the ball on the edge of the centre-circle before turning and, seeing Pilkington off his line, attempting an audacious lob from 40 yards. He got his angles all wrong though and the ball arched safely into the Kenilworth Road stand, and the teams went in level at the end of the first period. The visitors' main attacking outlet in the first half had been through set pieces, with Pilkington doing well to punch away a couple of Rowe corners early on, and on 52 minutes the Rovers managed to break the deadlock and take an unexpected lead. Rowe stood over a free kick on the right-hand side and curled over a deep cross which evaded everyone, allowing former Stevenage forward Griffin to finish at the back post. That goal rocked the Town and for the next ten minutes or so the hosts struggled to impose themselves on the game. A tactical switch on the hour mark saw Robbie Willmott replace Matthew Barnes-Homer, with O'Connor moving inside from the flank to take the central strikers' role. O'Connor's pace almost made an immediate impact in the middle, as nice interchange play between Howells and Lawless released the new-signing in the area, but recovering defender Stokes was able to do just enough to shrug off the forward and shepherd the ball back to the goalkeeper. And the Hatters found the equaliser they'd been looking for on 69 minutes when debutant Beckwith headed in after had Lawless floated in a corner from the left which Dance headed back across goal. Fellow new-boy Dance thought he'd joined Beckwith on the scoresheet six minutes later when he won the ball in the air from a Willmott free kick and lifted a header over the goalkeeper, but Griffin got back superbly to block the ball on the line, hurting himself in the process. With 10 minutes remaining on the clock Willmott almost claimed a goal of his own, cutting in from the left and unleashing a fierce shot at goal, but Bulman did just enough to push it out for a corner. From the resultant set-piece, Dance picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and flashed a shot just wide. And moments later Willmott came even closer with another fine shot from outside the box, but again Bulman managed to beat the ball away diving to his left. As the Town pressed forward for a second goal, space opened up at the other end of the pitch, and Forbes almost scored a magnificent winner for Rovers when he rattled the crossbar with a 25-yard effort on 87 minutes, before Pilkington saved comfortably from a Styche shot from inside the box. But in the end neither side could find a break-through, and the game ended one all. It will be considered two points dropped against a team who were brushed aside 6-1 in the corresponding fixture last season, but Rovers showed that they are a much improved outfit, and the rub of the green was not quite on the side of the Town today, who on another day would have scored at least one of the numerous efforts that the visiting goalkeeper kept out. The Town are at home again on Saturday with Southport the visitors and the quest for the first three points of the season. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Result from Kenilworth Road Luton Town 1 (Beckwith 70) Forest Green Rovers 1 (Griffin 52) FULL-TIME Reaction, report, photographs and video to follow as the Town open the campaign with a 1-1 draw. 90 mins - Time is up. Four minutes to add. 88 mins - Another chance for the visitors as Styche turns in the box and hits a low shot into the arms of Pilkington. 87 mins - The woodwork rattles, and Rovers are unlucky not be back in front. Forbes beats Lawless through the middle, and sends a curling shot goalwards that hits the bar and drops on the line and the Town clear. Blimey that was close. 85 mins - Five minutes left for the Town to find a winner. 82 mins - And another effort and it's the same result as Bulman pulls of a terrific save to deny a rasping effort from Willmott from the edge of the area. Can they find a winner? 81 mins - Oh, Willmott's made a difference his introduction and almost put the Hatters ahead with a scorching, rising drive that Bulman beats away for a corner. Rovers half-clear that flag-kick which eventually falls to Dance on the left but he shoots wide. Pressure rising. 77 mins - As the Town almost go close at one end, Rovers attack and almost nick the lead back as Styche's low effort from the right is blocked by Keane. 74 mins - Oooooh, that's close as the Hatters look for a winner. Lawless, breaks forward from midfield and sends a shot zooming over the crossbar from 20 yards. Decent effort. 72 mins - 18 minutes left for the Town to try and win this. 70 mins  GOAL! TOWN 1-1 Forest Green (Beckwith) - Relief around the ground as the Town level. A corner from the right is deep to the back post which Dance heads back across goal and DEAN BECKWITH glances the ball home to make it one a piece. Game on. 68 mins - Then there is a shot for Bulman to save Lawless sends a low shot swerving goals that the stopper has to dive well down to his right keep out. 67 mins - Up goes the noise inside the ground as the Town try and suck in an equaliser. Bulman, however, has yet to really be tested this half. 65 mins - The attendance inside Kenilworth Road tonight is 6,061. 63 mins First change for the Town as Barnes-Homer is replaced by Robbie Willmott. O'Connor moves into attack. 59 mins - First change of the night and it's for Rovers, as James Rowe is replaced Yan Klukowski. 57 mins - Lovely piece of skill from Lawless as he beats two FGR men on his own but nothing comes of it as the ball is laid off to Keane as no Town man can get a shot in. 55 mins - The Hatters are struggling to get back into this game at the minute. Still, plenty of time on the clock, and options on the bench. 52 mins  GOAL! Town 0-1 FOREST GREEN (Griffin) - Out of nothing Rovers lead. Osano gives a free-kick away down the left and from Norwood's resulting kick CHARLIE GRIFFIN rises at the back post to head the visitors in the lead. 0-1. 49 mins - Half a sniff for the Hatters as they get a free-kick 20-ish yards out as Keane is felled but Dance's curling effort sails a few yards over the top of Bulman's goal. 47 mins - Real chance for the Town at the beginning of this second half but it's a catalogue of errors from both sides that eventually sees O'Connor onside down the left, pulling it back for MBH who mis-kicks but the Hatters pump it back in the box but Rovers clear. 46 mins Annnnnnnnnnd we're off again at Kenilworth Road as FGR get us back underway. The Town are now kicking towards the Kenny End. No changes at the break for either side. HALF-TIME Goalless here at the break, check back in 15 minutes for all the updates. COYH. 45 mins - We've got one additional minute as O'Connor is sent tumbling Hodgkiss in the penalty area but whistler Kinseley isn't interested. No pen. 44 mins - Now a minute to the break, Styche attempts a very ambitious effort from 40 yards, trying to catch Pilkington off his line. Wayward in the end. 43 mins - Two minutes to the break. The Hatters have had chances and for missing a guilt-edged chance and top save they'd be in front. 40 mins - By the way, Keano is captain for the Town this evening. 38 mins - Another save for Bulman in the visitors goal - this time from a low Keane shot from 22 yards after the Town number four had retrieved the ball from Forbes after he'd originally mis-placed his pass forward. 35 mins - Unfortunately still goalless but we have had our first yellow card of the season. It's not a Luton player, however, but Rovers' Norwood for a challenge on Dance down the right flank. 31 mins - Still the Hatters press but for all their possession and neat build-up play, the score remains goalless. 27 mins - Wow. What a hit. The Town go close again and Rovers have Bulman to thank for a top save to keep out a stunning low volleyed drive from Lawless from the edge of the box. All round good football and the Hatters are unlucky not to be ahead. 26 mins - Back come Rovers and they should do better as Norwood runs through the Town defence but as the space opens up for the winger he can only shoot wide. 25 mins - Another real chance for the Town as they're somehow unable to force the ball over the line. An MBH shot is deflected behind and from the corner bent in from Lawless both Beckwith and Antwi can't guide the ball home from a few yards out. Heads in hands. 23 mins - Shot for Pilkington to deal with but it's nothing the former Man Utd stopper can handle as he holds onto Reece Styche's effort from 20 yards. 21 mins - Pressure is definitely rising as O'Connor drives forward from the left and sends a low shot into the arms of Bulman. Can the Town make their dominance count? 19 mins - And another as the Hatters keep coming forward, this time Dance literally dancing down the right, cutting inside and feeding Howells who sees a deflected shot sail away from a corner. From the flag-kick taken by Lawless, Antwi gets up at the back stick but can't guide the ball home. 18 mins - Half a sight of goal for the Town as again Dance crosses from the right but Howells' first-time shot on the volley from the edge of the area is only threatening the scoreboard. 16 mins - Brabs and the crowd get a bit up-tight as Keane dispossesses Kieron Forbes that referee Kinseley believed was a foul. 14 mins - CHANCE. And the net should be bulging. Dance sends in a super right-wing cross on a plate for O'Connor who somehow sends his header from five yards out the wrong side of the post with the goal gaping. Miss of the season! 12 mins - Almost half a sniff for the visitors as they win a left-wing corner that is devilishly bent in that Pilkington has to tip away to safety. 9 mins - Still the Hatters in control here but no chances of note to report. 7 mins - Good football from the Town as MBH and Howells combine that sees the latter cross looking for Lawless but is denied by a header by Luke Graham. The ball falls to Ed outside the box but his effort is way over Bulman's crossbar. 5 mins - Inside the first five minutes the Hatters have been well in command but have yet to test Matt Bulman in the visitors' goal. Kenilworth Road is still filling up, loads and loads of new home shirts. They are lovely, aren't they? 3 mins - Town on top early doors. 2 mins - The Hatters are lining up with Kevin Pilkington in goal, a back four of Ed Asafu-Adjaye at right-back, Curtis Osano at left-back, Will Antwi and Dean Beckwith at centre half. Keith Keane, Jake Howells and Alex Lawless form a three-man midfield with James Dance on the right wing, Aaron O'Connor on the left and Matthew Barnes-Homer up front. 1 min And we're off for the 2011/12 season as the Town kick-off shooting towards the Oak Road end. Enjoy the updates. COYH. 19:42 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides onto the pitch - Town in orange and Rovers in a ghastily combination of electric yellow shirts and red shorts and socks. 19:37 COUNTDOWN The season is almost upon us. Eight minutes, to be precise. COYH. 19:30 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Back, again for 2011/12. Andrew Barringer: 3-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-2 Luton, Mark Wood: 2-0 Luton, James Cunliffe: 1-0 Luton, William Cole: 3-1 Luton. 19:25 BLUE SKIES Cloud has gone and it's a lovely summer's evening here at Kenilworth Road. We're expecting a few more than 6,000 inside the ground tonight. 19:10 TYLER VERDICT I've just spoken to Gary Brabin in the tunnel, and the reason why Mark Tyler isn't in squad tonight is because he has a slight back strain. "He'll be back next week," the gaffer confirms. No dramas. 19:00 BREAKING NEWS The teams: Town: K. Pilkington, Asafu-Adjaye, Beckwith, Antwi, Osano, Howells, Keane, Lawless, O'Connor, Dance, Barnes-Homer. Subs: Morgan-Smith, Crow, Willmott, Watkins, Kidd. FGR: Bulman, Hodgkiss, Stokes, Turley, Norwood, Styche, Griffin, Forbes, Graham, Allen, Rowe. Subs: Bittner, Turk, Klukowski, Imudia, Henry. 18:45 GOOD DAY The Town have an excellent record on this date, 16th August, winning five and drawing one of the six matches falling on this day. As Simon Pitts writes in tonight's programme, it has been three years since the last game on this date, and it was also into the third minute of the game when Sam Parkin scored the decisive goal as the Town won 1-0 at Gillingham. And, back in 1980, a certain Raddy Antic made his Hatters debut in a 2-1 win at West Ham with David Moss scoring both the Town goals. 18:30 TEAMS COMING SOON The shirts are hanging up on the pegs in the home dressing room and team news we'll be with us in the next half-an-hour or so. 17:45 WEATHER WATCH A tad cloudy, sun attempting to breakthrough, muggy. Kick-off in two hours. Excited? 17:20 GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER There you go, refresh your page now and you can see what I'm talking about the new pitch, as Gareth Owen's photograph shows. 17:15 PITCH PERFECT We've just been pitch side and as you can imagine, for this time of year, the playing surface is in fantastic condition. The two groundsman have worked hard to get the grass in tip-top condition for this season's opener. Well done boys. 16:00 HELLO AGAIN Good afternoon and welcome back one and all. It's been a while but we're back. At last. Thank goodness. When I say it's been a while, what I actually mean is it's been 88 days since that day at the City of Manchester Stadium. Not that I've been counting. We all know what happened that sping afternoon, and we won't speak of it again. I promise. Today, though, it's a new season that kicks-off belatedly, and strangely, on a Tuesday evening following the postponement of the AFC Telford fixture at the weekend. They say time is a great healer and, thankfully, the wounds of last season's heartache have healed. It's been down to optimism and hard work too, in all areas of the Club with hope and expectation of a season of success with going one better than last season at the very top of priorities. In front of a packed-out crowd, almost 4,000 season tickets have been sold - passion knows no bounds - Gary Brabin will be hoping his - that could include five debutants tonight - will do the business and get the season off to a flyer. In their way are a Forest Green Rovers side that began their campaign last Friday with a 1-1 draw with the 'other' Hatters - Stockport County. Dave Hockaday's side are being tipped as outsiders for a Play-Off spot having invested in the playing squad over the summer. The Gloucestershire outfit will fancy their chances of an upset and will want to avenge their last trip to Kenilworth Road when they were hammered 6-1 back in October last year. A win, by any means, will do, as it will be a long and challenging season - life in the BSBP is anything but a walk in the park as know all too well - and, as the Town boss said yesterday, "promotion won't be won or lost in the first game." Absolutely. Come 9.30pm it will be one down and 45 to go. It will be a rollercoaster once more, so, question is are, you ready? Well sit tight and enjoy the ride... Well, whatever happens at Kenilworth Road this evening, and throughout the season, your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way. If you can't make the match then 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 WAP site. 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 Brabs 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


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