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18:05 10th September 2011


Confident Town eased past 10-man Darlington as Gary Brabin's men recorded their first clean sheet of the season to move up to sixth place in the table. Danny Crow put the Town in front after half an hour with a neat finish after being set-up by new signing Stuart Fleetwood on his home debut, before Fleetwood himself made sure of the points with a second half header. The visitors' Graeme Lee was dismissed late in the first period for persistant foul play, but the Hatters were already well in control and playing some excellent football all over the pitch. The game's first opening came for the Town after ten minutes with a classy, swift break upfield. Dean Beckwith wrestled the ball from Liam Hatch and found Hatters debutant Jamie Hand who threaded the ball forward to Fleetwood, who had dropped deep. Fleetwood's deft one-two with his strike-partner Crow was intercepted by centre-back Ian Miller but the ball dropped kindly for Crow, who took a chance before launching a real pile-driver over the bar from 20 yards. Fleetwood's tendency to play quick one-touch football was causing the visitors problems, and Quakers centre back Lee received his first yellow card for clattering into the livewire striker after he had already passed the ball away. Seconds later, Darlo skipper Miller had to make a last-ditch tackle when Fleetwood spun free in the area, but despite cries for a penalty from the home crowd the referee judged the challenge to be fair. The Hatters were enjoying a good spell with a vocal crowd behind them, and on 23 minutes they registered their first shot on target courtesy of Robbie Willmott. The winger, playing deeper than usual in a 4-4-2 formation, characteristically cut inside from the left and warmed goalkeeper Sam Russell's gloves with a fizzing low drive from outside the box. And the breakthrough the Town deserved came with a fine team goal finished by Crow on the half-hour mark. The in-form striker struck first time from twelve yards after being put through by a perfect through-ball from Fleetwood, who had robbed Darlington's ex-Malaga left-back Jonatan Sanchez-Munoz on the wing. After going behind, Darlington's physical, strong team attempted to bully the Town with some robust midfield play, and it was only a matter of time before the referee was forced into taking his cards out of his pocket. Former Hatter Hatch overstepped the mark with a clattering foul on Jake Howells and had his name taken by oreferee Atkins, before defender Lee was sent off with a second booking for a bruising tackle on Amari Morgan-Smith on 42 minutes. Sanchez-Munoz could be considered lucky not to have followed Lee down the tunnel on the stroke of half-time when he saw yellow for poleaxeing Morgan-Smith in midfield moments after escaping a booking for a late foul on the same player out on the wing. Coming out for the second half a goal and a man down, the Quakers knew they would need to make an early impression if they were to get a hold back on the game. Spanish left back Sanchez-Munoz almost obliged with a 49th minute 30-yard strike that gave Mark Tyler something to think about, but the Town stopper dealt with the shot well. Crow could have doubled the Town's lead with a header at the back post, but could only head over into the Kenilworth Road end from Morgan-Smith's dangerous cross from the right wing. Morgan-Smith incurred the wrath of the referee but, almost, the adulation of the home crowd when, after going off injured he re-entered the field of play without permission. He received a booking for the indiscretion, but then immediately picked up the ball and came very close to scoring a fine goal with a rasping strike from just inside the area that Russell did well to get down and save. The Town were playing some wonderful attacking football with the likes of Alex Lawless and Howells enjoying the extra space allowed by the one-man advantage, and the home side scored a well-earned second-goal on 70 minutes through the impressive Fleetwood on his home debut. Breaking from a well-defended set piece, a flood of orange shirts poured into the opposition half as Town players sensed a goal. Howells won a corner, which Willmott curled over from the left, and Fleetwood - hardly the tallest player on the pitch by any stretch of the imagination - rose highest to head firmly past Russell to put the Town two up. Crow almost grabbed a third with a carbon copy moments later, heading Willmott's corner over the bar, before Ben Purkiss cleared another Crow effort off the line following a fine knock-back from substitute James Dance. A late cameo from John Paul Kissock had the Luton-faithful chanting 'Messi-Messi' as the diminutive scouser showcased his Catalan-flavoured tricks and flicks. A smart Cruyff-turn on the edge of the box from the substitute drew a foul and a free-kick, which Willmott curled just the wrong side of the far post. Two-nil it remained though, as the Town played out the last few minutes with some fine passing possession play. The Hatters finished with their first clean sheet of the campaign, and an excellent three points. A trip to AFC Telford is next up for Brabin's men, who remain unbeaten this season and look to be approaching top form on the evidence of today's game. For minute-by-minute anaylsis see below Luton Town 2 (Crow 31, Fleetwood 70) Darlington 0 Result FULL-TIME It's all over here, three points, and a first clean sheet of the season. Full report, reaction, photos and interviews to follow. COYH! 90 mins - Four added minutes at the end of the 90. 89 mins - Within a whisker of 3-0 as Willmott thunders a free-kick inches wide after Kissock was fouled on the edge of the area. Crow named sponsors man of the match. 85 mins And on comes JP in replace of Crow for the final five. 84 mins - Time ticking down, JP Kissock ready to join the fray. 80 mins - 10 left, Keane goes close with a cross cum shot that whizzs past the post and over the head of Crow. 76 mins - 15 left for the Town and they're looking good. Let's try and not jinx the other 'first' we want to keep this afternoon...Meanwhile Hatch has gone off for the visitors, replaced by Campbell. 71 mins - Almost 3-0 as Howells and Dance combine to tee up Crow to drive a half-volley goalwards that's cleared off the line by Purkiss. 70 mins  GOAL! TOWN 2-0 Darlington (Fleetwood) - Simples, as they say. And it's a full debut goal for STUART FLEETWOOD, rising to nod Willmott's left-wing corner home from close range, beating Russell to the ball. Get in! 69 mins - Booking for Hand, strangely, for a tackle on Taylor but it looked a fair challenge from here. From resulting free-kick Sanchez-Munoz's free-kick only finds the gloves of Tyler. 67 mins - Town need a second goal. Darlington come close and appeal for a pen after a right-wing free-kick causes confusion. 64 mins - The attendance inside Kenilworth Road is 5,952 with 151 shouting for Darlington. Another change for the visitors, Rundle replaced by Marc Bridge-Wilkinson. 61 mins First change of the day for the Town as James Dance replaces Morgan-Smith. 61 mins - Still the Town press, Fleetwood drawing another save from Russell who parries and Crow, sniffing, can't turn it in. 59 mins - Morgan-Smith is momentarily down and off the pitch. He then walks back on and ref books him. Second later the ball is at his feet and he blasts a shot goalwards that Russell turns away at his near post. 55 mins - Town encamped in Darlo half, then lovely quick feet from Fleetwood sees him work a yard of space to curl a shot from outside the box that Russell has to turn away, plunging to his right. 52 mins - More Hatters pressure, AMS and Willmott switch flanks. 50 mins - It really should be 2-0. AMS bursts down the right, getting the better of Sanchez-Munoz. He has all the time in the world to square to Fleetwood but instead picks out Crow eight yards out who send a diving header flash over the bar. 49 mins - First piece of action in the second half is for Tyler to dive to his left to keep out an ambitious and well-hit effort from Sanchez-Munoz from 25 yards. 46 mins And we're off for the second half, no changes for either side as Darlo kick-off. The Town are shooting towards the Kenny end. HALF-TIME And that's the break, the Town lead thanks to Danny Crow's third of the season. They're also a man to good too, with Graeme Lee sent off for a second bookable offence. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half. COYH. 45 + 3 mins - Town pilling on the pressure but guilty of over-playing it as AMS reacts to a mistake on the touchline to spring clear of the Darlo defence to square to Crow but instead of shooting AMS passes back to Crow who then passes it back before Fleetwood balloons over. 45 mins - Darlo players not helping themselves...Sanchez-Munoz earning a booking for poleaxing Morgan-Smith when in full flight. Four minutes added, by the way. 44 mins - Town trying to press for a second before the break and before the Darlo can regroup. Howells wins a free-kick down the left and he squares to Hand lurking on the edge of the area but his dinked effort clears the crossbar. 42 mins - Red card - Lee's got a second booking and the visitors are down to 10 men. His second card for a foul on Morgan-Smith. 41 mins - Another booking for Darlo, this time Liam Hatch goes into the book for a foul on Howells. 40 mins - More good work from Fleetwood and Crow as the former races onto a raking pass forward from Keane but after the two strikers swap passes, Crow sees a shot blocked. 35 mins - 10 minutes to the break, the Town lead but Crow's hurt as he leaves the field momentarily after picking up a nasty foot injury, accidentally kicking the back of a Darlington player. 31 mins GOAL! TOWN 1-0 Darlington (Crow) - What was I just saying? Jonatan Sanchez-Munoz gets in a pickle at left-back allowing Fleetwood to pick his pocket race through and put the ball on a plate for DANNY CROW to finish well. That's his third of the season. Get in! 30 mins - Frustration at Kenilworth Road at the minute, the Town are on top. A goal will change everything. 28 mins - Another first, coming thick and fastt...first substition and it's for Darlo, who bring off Walshaw in replace of Ryan Bowman. 26 mins - Almost a moment of concern for the Town as Tyler is beaten in the air by James Walshaw. His header is cleared off the line by Beckwith, with time on his side but the referee had already blown for a foul on the goalkeeper. 24 mins - And then he is as Willmott cuts inside from the left and sends a low shot towards the bottom corner that Russell can only parry away. 23 mins - The Town pressure is rising but Russell has yet to be tested in the Darlo goal as yet. 20 mins - And another penalty appeal from the Hatters as Fleetwood skips into the box, latching onto a lovely pass from Crow. Quakers skipper Miller puts in a challenge and Fleetwood goes down. Verdict: no pen. 19 mins - And then there's almost a chance and a handball shout as Fleetwood rides several Darlington to challenges to get into the area but his cross is blocked and crowd appeal for handball. 18 mins - A few firsts over the past few minutes as ref Atkins shows his first yellow card to Darlo's Graeme Lee for a crude challenge on Fleetwood in the centre circle. 15 mins - Followed by the first shot on target of the afternoon and Tyler, making his 100th Town appearance, needs to keep out Greg Taylor's low shot from 25 yards after the visiting midfielder was allowed time to run through the middle unchallenged. 11 mins - First shot of goal and we're 11 minutes in. Hand does well to thread a ball into the path of Fleetwood. He finds Crow and who in turn tries to play a one-two. The ball hits a visiting defender back into the path of Crow who looks up and belts a shot from 25 yards over Russell's crossbar. 7 mins - Pretty quite beginning here at Kenilworth Road. Both teams trading the ball but the Town look good going forward with Hand impressing in the middle of the park. 4 mins - Town pressure as they find their feet. Hand does well to control on his chest and spread the ball to Howells. He loses it but then Willmott wins it back and tees up Howells to cross but his saved by Sam Russell in the visitors' goal. 3 mins - First bit of work for debutant Hand to do as he does well with a sliding tackle to deny Darlo a raid down the left. It earns applause from the Town faithful. 2 mins - It's 442 for the Hatters, Keane at right back, Antwi and Beckwith centre-halves, Howells left-back, Willmott right wing, Morgan-Smith left wing, Hand and Lawless in the middle of midfield, Crow and Fleetwood up top. 1 min Annnnd we're off, enjoy the updates..the Town kick-off shooting towards the Oak Road end. 14:58 APPLAUSE Standby for a moment's applause for former Town goalkeeper Mark Ovendale. RIP. 14:55 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides...Darlington in an bright lime green colours. 14:50 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 3-0 Luton, Matthew Parsfield: 1-0 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-1 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 2-1 Luton, Ian Ryan: 2-0 Luton, Bill Cole: 3-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, Simon Oxley 3-1. 14:30 TON UP FOR TYLER Mark Tyler is making his 100th appearance for the Hatters this afternoon. 14:10 FOUR CHANGES GaryoHowells and Dean Beckwith following their injury and illness respecitively. There is no room for Curtis Osano, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Adam Watkins and John Paul Kissock. The latter two do make the bench. Town: Tyler, Keane, Beckwith, Antwi, Howells, Willmott, Lawless, Hand, Morgan-Smith, Crow, Fleetwood. Subs: K. Pilkington, O'Connor, Kissock, Dance, Watkins. Darlington: Russell, Arnison, Taylor, Miller, Hatch, Walshaw, Atkinson, Lee, Rundle, Purkiss, Sanchez-Munoz Subs: Chandler, Taylor, Campbell, Bowman, Bridge-Wilkinson. 13:45 YOUNGSTERS RUE WOODWORK A younger than usual Town side hit the woodwork three times and went down 1-0 away at Brentford this morning in the Youth Alliance. 13:30 ON THIS DAY The Town have played a fair few times on 10th September. 18 to be precise. Of those the Hatters have won seven, drawn three and lost eight. Wolverhampton Wanderers were the last side to face the Town on this day back in 2005 in the Championship. A goal from Kevin Nicholls ensured the Hatters earned a point in a 1-1 draw. The last victory was over Watford in the League Cup at Vicarage Road. Matthew Spring's stunning 35-yarder and a goal from Steve Howard earned the Town a 2-1 win. In the Hornets team that day was a certain Jamie Hand, our new signing confirmed yesterday. 12:50 WEATHER WATCH Mild but grey here in LU4 as players begin to make their way into the ground. 11:30 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL "It's been a great week," Town boss Gary Brabin said yesterday, all smiles. He had, after all, had a lot to be cheerful about. A whole week to prepare for this afternoon's game with a fancied Darlington side at Kenilworth Road there was good news from the injury room. I'm not sure what the term is for a collection of defenders, and I'm sure George Pilkington, Shane Blackett, Jake Howells, Dan Gleeson, Freddie Murray and Dean Beckwith wouldn't wish to be referred to in such a collective term. For the purposes of this blog, we'll go with pack - that sounds most menacing, doesn't it. Brabs' pack of defenders will soon by hunting for first team places as they make their return from injury. Howells and Beckwith could return today whilst Murray, Gleeson, Blackett and Pilkington are on their way. Soon the Town boss will need to make frequent trips to the chemist to pick up packs of paracetamol given the amount of headaches he could face in the not too distant future when he has a full squad to pick from. For the time being though the manager hopes the injury and illness problems have reared their heads at this early stage of the season and, all things considered he's reasonably happy with the way his side has started the campaign. "Everyone wants a winning start to the season, none more so than ourselves," Brabin continued yesterday. "We know we've got loads of improvement in us. "There's a long way to go still and I've said recently you don't really get an understanding of how the league is going to shape up until 10-12 games in. "We've just got to keep going and keep ourselves in the thick of it. I'm sure Wrexham and Gateshead aren't getting too carried away. "We've got a game in hand and if - if - we win that, we'd be third so I don't think it's a disaster but at the moment we know there's improvement for us to do." It's all positive stuff. Unbeaten so far the Town need to keep it going this afternoon. All the preparation of the past week builds up three o'clock today... Well, whatever happens today, and throughout the season, your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way: live, on radio and via social media. 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 afternoon, 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


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