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14:22 20th September 2011


The Hatters gained a fantastic three points in their toughest test of the season, winning through a late goal from Stuart Fleetwood despite playing the majority of the game with 10 men following Dean Beckwith's early red card. With Wrexham losing and Gateshead only winning a point at home to Cambridge, Gary Brabin's side move up to second place in the table and remain the only unbeaten team in the division. With Keith Keane injured and therefore unable to make his 251st appearance for the Town, and Ed Asafu-Adjaye suspended following his red card at Telford in the week, Brabin had to field a rather patched-up looking back four with midfielders Jake Howells and James Dance deputising in the full-back positions. That backline was weakened even further when Beckwith was dismissed after just 23 minutes, and the Town can be rightly thrilled to have battled to a victory under such difficult circumstances. In truth, the hosts could have sealed the three points much earlier than they did, as Fleetwood missed a number of chances through a mixture of bad luck and wastefulness, hitting the crossbar in the first half and seeing visiting goalkeeper Joe Anyon get the better of him in three one-on-one situations. But in an end-to-end match, Mark Tyler and - in particular - Will Antwi had to be in top form to preserve a clean sheet as Lincoln piled forward to try and turn their numerical advantage into a win. Keane's absence saw Alex Lawless don the captain's armband, and he looked to lead by example in the Hatters midfield. After four minutes he got on the ball and crafted a fantastic chance for his fellow Welshman Fleetwood, who did fantastically to control the ball on the run and outpace his marker, but should have done better with his final shot, firing straight at Anyon. Fleetwood was involved in the Town's next chance after quarter of an hour, back-heeling for Robbie Willmott on the left touchline. Willmott's low cross found Danny Crow, who attempted a speculative flick with the outside of his right foot but couldn't trouble the 'keeper. With no Keane, former Imp Jamie Dance had extra responsibility to provide steel in the midfield, and he excelled in the opening period with a number of fine interventions, tackling hard in the midfield and notably chasing back to thwart Bradley Barraclough who was bearing down on goal. On 23 minutes, disaster struck as Brabin's already skeletal defensive resources were stretched even further when Dean Beckwith was adjudged to have swung an elbow at Kyle Perry, and was sent off by referee Stephen Martin. With Hand dropping back into the back four, one might have expected to see the Hatters happy to sit back and defend for a while, but this was not the case. Skipper Lawless attempted to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, surging forward and forcing Anyon into a flying save with a fine drive on 28 minutes, before Willmott's rebound was blocked on the line by Adam Watts. The Town seemed to be playing better with ten men than they had with eleven, the red card incident really having fired them up. On 35 minutes Fleetwood turned his man and got free down the right before lashing a shot against the crossbar from a tight angle. The Imps were seeing a fair amount of possession but hadn't troubled the Town goal until Watts headed onto the roof of Mark Tyler's net from a 37th minute corner. Town came back immediately and almost broke the deadlock themselves when Crow knocked the ball just wide under pressure after Fleetwood's run and cross down the right wing. As the action-packed first period continued, Lincoln's Gavin McCallum should have put the visitors in front, skewing wide from fifteen yards following a slip by Hand. The same player was guilty of missing another chance seconds later, and Willmott sent a free kick crashing into the wall after Ali Fuseini was booked for recklessly chopping down Crow, but the half ended goalless. Beckwith's red card caused Brabin into a reshuffle at half-time. With only one natural defender, Antwi, left in the squad, midfielder Adam Watkins was brought on for Crow to add more cover in front of the makeshift back four of Dance, Antwi, Hand and Howells. Yet the Town were still looking to attack, and Lawless broke into the opposition shortly after the restart, sending a snapshot into the arms of Anyon. The Imps were playing some good football and continuing to threaten at the other end though, and Tyler showed excellent form in the hosts' goal ten minutes into the second period, getting down well at his near post to keep out Simon Russell's goal-bound effort. A super Lawless cross from deep was headed straight at the goalkeeper by Antwi, before Lincoln's Mitchell Nelson made a wonderful recovering tackle to prevent Fleetwood breaking clear after fine work in the midfield by substitutes Watkins and John Paul Kissock. The visitors' Perry, cast in the pantomime villain role by the Hatters support following his involvement in Beckwith's sending off, should have put Steve Tilson's side in front with a header with 20 minutes to go, but nodded over the bar from inside the six-yard-box after getting on the end of Russell's cross. Seconds later, he thought he'd opened the scoring after finding the net from close range, but to the Kenilworth Road faithful's delight and relief, the linesman had flagged for off side. The end-to-end nature of the game continued, and Fleetwood missed another one-on-one opportunity after being set through in the area. The Imps began to make their extra man count, and it was backs-to-the-wall stuff for the Town defence for periods of the second half. Antwi was marshalling his cobbled-together defence with aplomb, and made several last-ditch clearances in his own box, before Hand saved what looked a certain goal with an incredible block to keep out a shot at the back post from Nicky Nicolau that looked a certain goal. And then, just as it was beginning to look as though the Hatters were going to be lucky to get out of the game with a point, Fleetwood scored to send the packed Kenilworth Road end into raptures on 84 minutes. Watkins played a short corner to Kissock, who showed the magic that has already endeared him to Town fans as he wriggled past Lincoln defenders into the box, before squaring for Fleetwood who, this time, couldn't miss. Two minutes later, Fleetwood almost wrapped up the three points after again outpacing the Imps defence and forcing Anyon into another one-on-one save. Deep into injury time, the referee evened up the numbers, giving Nelson his marching orders for a second yellow, after the defender had been forced into a foul following good pressure from the hard-working Fleetwood. But that was too late in the day to affect the game in any meaningful way, and after one last scare as Barraclough broke into the area and spooned the ball out for a goal kick, the 6,300 inside Kenilworth Road erupted with cheers and chants of "we are unbeatable" at the final whistle. It's still too early to say just how important these three points will be come the end of the season, but to not only hang on for a clean sheet after playing so much of the game with ten men, but to go on and win the game under those circumstances demonstrates that this side has enormous character, belief and resilience. A trip to another struggling side, Bath City, on Tuesday awaits Gary Brabin, who despite the joy of today's victory has real selection problems, especially in defence. Ed Asafu-Adjaye will return from suspension to ease those concerns somewhat, although with a third consecutive clean sheet in today's game the Hatters will be confident of extending their unbeaten run regardless of the XI they can put out.   Job done. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 1 (Fleetwood 84) Lincoln City 0 Final score FULL-TIME It's all over, a massive, massive win with 10 men for 67 minutes. But Stuart Fleetwood's goal gives the Town all three points. Standby for a full report, reaction, goals, photos and so much more! COYH! 90+ 3 mins Lincoln down to 10 Nelson receives a second yellow. 90 mins - 90 seconds left... 90 mins - Four added minutes to hold on... 89 mins - A minute left..this will be huge if the Town can hold on. 87 mins - Almost 2-0, Anyon to the rescue, Fleetwood one-on-one, shot saved, cracking atmosphere inside the ground. 84 mins  GOOOOOOOOOOAL! TOWN 1-0 Lincoln (Fleetwood) Get in! Short corner played to Kissock, wriggles along the byline and there's STUART FLEETWOOD for a tap in and Kenilwort Road goals beserk. 81 mins - Great defending from Hand, deflects certain goal from substitute Nicolau. Brillaint block. 80 mins - 10 minutes left... 78 mins - Two bookings for the Town, incredibly, Watkins gets the ball from a tackle and is booked whilst Fleetwood is cautioned for dissent. 76 mins - Almost a sniff for Antwi following a right-wing corner. 75 mins - Back up the other end, Fleetwood in, saved by Anyon. 74 mins - Ball in the Town net but it's not going to count, Perry's effort beats Tyler but the flag's up...offside. Phew. 72 mins - Great chance for the visitors as Perry heads over from six yards following a right-wing cross. 70 mins - Noise goes up around the ground as Kissock feeds Watkins who threads a ball through to Fleetwood but before he can get a shot away Nelson gets in a crucial tackle. 69 mins - Half a sniff for the Town as Antwi heads at Anyon following Lawless' excellent deep right-wing cross. 67 mins Third and final change for the Hatters, John Paul Kissock replacing Morgan-Smith. Lincoln also make a change, Nicky Nicolau replacing Barraclough. 66 mins - Season's best 6,316 inside Kenilworth Road this afternoon, including 206 supporting Lincoln. 64 mins - Town pressure, Morgan-Smith shot from the left deflcected behind for a corner which the Hatters mess up and Lincoln clear. 61 mins - By the way O'Connor is on the right flank with AMS on the left. 60 mins - Hour gone, still goalless here. 57 mins Second change for Town, Aaron O'Connor replacing Robbie Willmott. 55 mins - Top save and it's Tyler to the rescue, diving to keep out Simon Russell's shot from the right-hand edge of the area which had also taken a deflection of Jake Howells. 54 mins - Almost a chance for Fleetwood on the break but he's all alone and can't shoot, closed down by the Imps defenders. 52 mins - First real chance of the half falls to the Imps as dangerous cross from the right is met by Bradley Barraclough at the near post but his flick doesn't test Tyler from close range. 47 mins - 60 seconds in and there's a booking for Mitchell Nelson for the visitors, stopping Morgan-Smith's pass with his hand. From the resultant free-kick the ball falls to Lawless in the penalty area 12 yards out but his volley only finds the gloves of Anyon. 46 mins Town get us underway in the second half, shooting towards the Kenny End, and there's been a change at the break, Adam Watkins replacing Crow. HALF-TIME - A goalless first half comes to an end but it's not been without it's controversy. The Hatters go in at the break level but a man light following the dismissal of Dean Beckwith. Should make for an interesting second half. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half updates. 45 mins - Two chances for McCallum for the Imps inside two minutes as he firstly whacks a shot wide from the right flank before dragging a shot wide from the left after being put through. Two added minutes... 39 mins - And another chance as the Town break down the right, Fleetwood, staying on side, races into the box and squares for Crow but under pressure from a gang of Lincoln defenders he scoops over. 35 mins - 10 minutes to the break and then there's a chance. A long ball over the top and Fleetwood, who's on his own now, looks up in the right-hand side of the penalty to blast a shot that hits the top of the crossbar. 30 mins - Town man in the book, skipper Lawless a foul on the half-way line. Brabin unimpressed. 29 mins - Hatters up for this now, Anyon tested for the first time as Lawless drives a super shot from outside the box goalwards that the keeper turns away. Willmott drives the rebound towards goal that takes a nick of an Imps defender who clear. 27 mins - Town up against it with 10 men now, they win a corner and up goes the noise inside the ground, Antwi heads over. 25 mins - Perry still on the deck receiving treatment, Town down to the bare bones as far as defenders are concerned...Hand has dropped into centre-half, Crow drops into midfield, Fleetwood up top. 23 mins - Uh-oh trouble for Town as, for the second successive match, they're down to 10 men. Defender Dean Beckwith has been shown a straight red card on Imps striker Kyle Perry. 19 mins - Town pressure rising, Hand impressing in the central of midfield once more. 17 mins - Better from the Town. Fleetwood does well to keep the ball in play, back-heeling the ball to Willmott to cross low to Crow at the near post but his flick isn't threatening Anyon. 15 mins - Even stevens so far, perhaps the visitors, in their green and white hooped shirts, are shading it. 12 mins - End-to-end stuff at the moment but neither goalkeeper called into action thus far. James Dance is lining up at right-back this afternoon. 10 mins - Sorry for delay in updates, had a technical hiccup. Only chance so far came for Stuart Fleetwood in the fifth minute, latching onto a pass from captain  Alex Lawless to shoot straight at Lincoln keeper Joe Anyon. 14:45 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 2-1 Luton, Simon Pitts; 3-1 Luton, Matthew Parsfield: 2-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-0 Luton, Ian Ryan: 4-0 Luton, Bill Cole: 3-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-0 Luton. 14:30 ON THIS DAY The Town's record on 17th September is played 21, won 8, drawn 5, lost 8, scored 33 and conceded 30. The Hatters beat AFC Wimbledon on this day last year with goals from Zdenek Kroca, George Pilkington and Matthew Barnes-Homer. The Town have won four of the last five games on this date and have also been amongst the goals when winning. A 5-1 home win over Manchester City happened in 1958 whilst Wolves were beaten 4-0 in 1983. 14:15 TWO CHANGES FOR TOWN Gary Brabin is forced into two changes from the team that beat AFC Telford on Tuesday. James Dance and Jamie Hand replace suspended Ed Asafu-Adjaye and injured Keith Keane, who has a hip injury. Town: Tyler, Dance, Beckwith, Antwi, Howells, Morgan-Smith, Hand, Lawless, Willmott, Crow, Fleetwood. Subs: Watkins, Kissock, O'Connor, Samuel, K. Pilkington. Lincoln: Anyon, Nutter, Nelson, Watts, Power, Fuseini, Russell, Baraclough, Sinclar, Perry, McCullum. Subs: Wilson, Hone, Nicolau, O'Keefe, Smith. 13:55 TEAM NEWS COMING SOON Standby.. 13:35 YOUNGTERS WIN The Hatters' Under-18s beat Stevenage 4-1 in the Youth Alliance this morning. 13:00 WEATHER WATCH There have been a few heavy rain showers around Luton today so far. The precipitation has left the pitch with a greasy surface and now it's bathed in lovely September sunshine as the stewards get their pre-match briefing and Dmitri Kharine puts young goalkeeper Lewis Kidd through his paces. 12:00 GREAT EXPECTATIONS An unbeaten start to the season has quite rightly led to an air confidence not felt around Kenilworth Road for years It's still early in the Blue Square Bet campaign, eight games gone to be precise, yet comparisons are already beginning to be made to the League One title winners of 2004/05. The class of 2011 have set the standards already with four wins and four draws so far this term, but - never accepting anything other than victory - the management and players have openly admitted their disappointment that the four draws really should have victories. Managing expectation and keeping feet on the ground is the job of Gary Brabin. A young team brimming with confidence and an expectant, passionate and loyal fanbase can be a potent force. Together as one, together we can conquer - that's the message coming out of Kenilworth Road as the Town aim for promotion at the third attempt this season. Sitting in third place in the table following two successive 2-0 victories the Hatters' expectations soar once more. As Brabin eluded to in his press conference on Friday our visitors this afternoon Lincoln City "may have found it tough so far in this league, we know all too well". How true. The Hatters have suffered heartbreak but Lincoln are facing similar expectation problems: relegated from the Football League last season the Imps were expected to challenge yet find themselves in the bottom four. However, it's still early days and, as Brabin mused yesterday, it's important to keep your feet on the ground. Still full of Football League experience, Steve Tilson's Lincoln will be a tough nut to crack. Forget the league standings and recent results the Imps will be keen to upset the odds at Kenilworth Road to kick-start their campaign. It's not going to be easy, it never is but all you've got to do is keep believing...  Well, whatever happens tonight, 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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