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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
00:43 27th December 2011

TOWN 5-0 KETTERING TOWN - REPORT & ANALY

Town 5
Howells 20, O'Connor 27, Lawless 49, Fleetwood 80, Willmott 85 Kettering Town 0   The Hatters cruised past struggling Kettering as five different goalscorers found the target in a Boxing Day bonanza at Kenilworth Road. They could even afford to miss a second half penalty - their sixth missed kick from 12 yards this season - but the Town showed no mercy in disposing of a Poppies side who could only name two substitutes. Attacking from the off the Hatters were ahead on 20 minutes through Jake Howells' free-kick before Aaron O'Connor's header seven minutes later made it two. Four minutes into the second half Alex Lawless made it 3-0 and, as the Poppies wilted, O'Connor saw a penalty on the hour come back off the crossbar. Undeterred and showing signs of bags of confidence against a side significantly lacking self-belief, substitutes Stuart Fleetwood and Robbie Willmott scored one apiece in the final 10 minutes to complete the rout in fine style. The Town - who showed one change to the side that beat Tamworth in their last game - O'Connor replacing the injured James Dance, missing out on a game against his former club - started will real gusto. Kettering may have had the first chance - Josh Dawkins' daisycutter easy for Kevin Pilkington in the fourth minute - but it was the Hatters who were carving the visitors defence apart. The Hatters almost had the lead a minute later when Danny Crow's acrobatic effort was pushed away brilliantly by Laure Walker in the visitors' goal following Dan Gleeson's right-wing cross from a short-corner. As the Town began to boss possession, even in the early stages it was becoming apparent in the difference in confidence between the two sides: Janos Kovacs whacked a shot wide on seven minutes, Adam Watkins blazed wide a minute later before the same player side-footed into the goalkeeper's hands after being gifted the ball on the edge of the penalty area moments later. Gleeson tried his luck with a long-distance drive on 12 minutes before more good football down the left flank, saw Greg Taylor and O'Connor fashion a chane for Howells who sent a curling a shot over the crossbar. For six years Sol Davis had been a cult hero at Kenilworth Road for his combative displays at left-back and the Kettering skipper denied his old side a goal to cheer on 18 minutes when he cleared a lovely effort from O'Connor off of the line after the forward had done brilliantly to race into box and riding two challenges in the process. But two minutes later the seemingly inevitable came when the impressive Howells put the Hatters in front. Davis brought him down on the edge of the penalty area and from the resultant free-kick the youngster smashed home and unstoppable effort past Walker. At the time of the opener the Poppies only had 10 men on the pitch following an injury to Jerel Ifil and he was eventually replaced by one of only two substitutes available to Mark Stimson. Their tails up, the Hatters sensed blood with Lawless showing fine skill to turn inside his man before bending a shot with outside of his right-foot high and wide on 25 minutes and then Howells teed-up Taylor to send a side-foot effort inches wide of the right-hand post a minute later. Despite playing some eye-catching stuff, you still felt the Town needed another goal to dampen the visitors' confidence further before the break, and lo and behold, the second goal duly arrived on 27 minutes. More flowing football down the left broke down but the ball soon found its way to Keith Keane whose chipped pass from the left was met by the head of O'Connor who sent the ball to bouncing into the corner of the net for his sixth goal of the campaign. An injury to Howells robbed the Hatters of the services of the Wales Under-21 international 11 minutes before the break but the introduction of Willmott added a direct and pacy approach to the hosts' play. O'Connor was unlucky not to add to the score before the break: firstly he was unceremoniously body-checked by Jaime Navarro when about to race through one-on-one with Walker before he had a goal harshly chalked off for offside on 45 minutes. Willmott was causing Davis problems down the Kettering left and the substitute almost set-up a third in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half when he picked out Taylor at the back post but the left-back's close range effort was brilliantly kept out by the reflexes of Walker in the Poppies' goal. Back out early for the second half for a warm-up - which worked at Tamworth with two quick goals in the opening minutes there - the Hatters did the same again. Lawless battled his way past several challenges but saw a shot blocked. But that deflection only succeeded in finding the midfielder with more time and space in the box and, this time, he guided the ball expertly beyond Walker with a finish with the outside of his right-boot. It was his second of the season. The Hatters were continually probing for more goals, hungry to increase their tally. The only frustration was the flag of the linesman and - annoyingly - more agony from the penalty spot. Taylor was sent tumbling under Ollie Jones' challenge on the hour but O'Connor contrived to hit the crossbar from 12 yards - unbelievably the Hatters' sixth miss from the spot season and the second in as many games. Pens missed this season ·M-Smith v Braintree
·Crow v Hayes & Y
·Howells v Hayes & Y
·Willmott v Barrow
·Crow v Tamworth
·O'Connor v Kettering But, at that stage of the match, it was a minor blemish as the Hatters continued to pour forward as the chances continued to come and go. Watkins somehow missed on 70 minutes when sent streaking through on goal by Crow, skewing horribly wide after doing the hard work and rounding Walker before drawing a decent stop from the keeper seconds later with another chance that almost squirmed over the line. However a fourth goal did work its way into the Kettering net 10 minutes from time. Fleetwood had only been on the pitch a minute before he finished clinically from six yards after the Hatters had fluffed several attempts to squeeze the ball over the line. With John Paul Kissock pulling the strings following his introduction, the home crowd were being treated to some fancy football but it was Kettering that almost gifted the Town two further goals when Navarro almost sliced an own goal past Walker before a Willmott cross hit the same man and needed to be tipped onto the crossbar by the keeper. Attacking at will towards the Kenilworth Road end the Town faithful were hoping to suck in a fifth goal in the final minutes and it was left to Willmott to apply the coup de gras five minutes from time when he belted home a volley past Walker from six yards following Watkins' cross. Five goals, five different goalscorers, a missed penalty, missed chances - the game had the lot. The Hatters hordes of a season's second best 7,164 were crowing about playing Kettering every week. While not technically true, the Town travel to meet the Poppies again on New Year's Day. See you then. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 5 (Howells 20, O'Connor 27, Lawless 49, Fleetwood 80, Willmott 85) Kettering Town 0 Result FULL-TIME It's all over here, check back for report, anaylsis, reaction, goals and photos. Merry Christmas! 90 mins - We're into the last minute...and three added. 85 mins GOAL! TOWN 5-0 Kettering (Willmott) - The Hatters are toying with the Poppies now, Kissock pulling the strings with a bag of tricks. Watkins then finds space down the left and spots ROBBIE WILLMOTT at the back post who thumps home a fantastic volley past Walker, giving him no chance. 82 mins - So many chances, here's two more: lovely ball from Kissock into Watkins, rounds the keeper again, tries to get a shot out, saved. Before Willmott's cross-cum-shot loops off Navarro which Walker needs to turn onto the crossbar. 81 mins - Almost 5-0, Navarro almost own-goal to stop Willmott's cross from finding Fleetwood. 80 mins  GOAL! TOWN 4-0 Kettering (Fleetwood) - Well, somehow the Hatters have that elusive fourth goal but they worked hard to get it. Mis-kicks, blocks and a whole host of spurned opportunities fall the Town's way but eventually the ball break to STUART FLEETWOOD who emphatically fires home. 79 mins Another change for the Hatters, Stuart Fleetwood on for Crow. 75 mins Second change of the afternoon for Town. John Paul Kissock replaces O'Connor. The crowd now expect to see plenty of stepovers. 70 mins - Oh no. Should be 4-0 again. Watkins glides though onto Crow's slide-rule pass, he goes past Walker and should bag in front of an open net but scuffs it wide. Then he gets the ball once more in a central position that Walker does well to keep out. 68 mins - Almost four. As Crow does well down the left, nice cross to Willmott who sweeps a left-foot shot inches wide. Some thought it was in. Me included. 64 mins - Attendance is the second best of the season: 7,164 with 205 shouting for Kettering. 61 mins - O'Connor hits the bar, can you believe it? Well yes, I guess with the Town, you can. 60 mins - PENALTY TO TOWN - Taylor fouled by Jones. 55 mins - All the Hatters here, no chance of note but it's keep-ball again. 49 mins  GOAL! TOWN 3-0 Kettering (Lawless) - Well, the Hatters don't take long to make it 3-0. Out early for the second half a warm-up they increase the lead as ALEC LAWLESS pings a super low drive with the outside of his foot that curls past Walker into the corner of the net. 40 odd minutes to get a few more? 46 mins Off and underway for the second half as the Town resume kicking towards the Kenny end. No changes at the break for either side. HALF-TIME And that's the break. The Hatters well in command. They lead 2-0 but it could have been a lot more. Check back in 15 minutes won't you? COYH. 45 mins + 2 - Oh, wow what a stop, should be 3-0 as Willmott's perfect cross is met by Taylor who's close-range effort, up on the bounce, is somehow, somehow, kept out by a superb point-blank stop by Walker. 45 mins - Ball in the Kettering net but it's not going to count, O'Connor's effort harshly chalked off. Not sure if it was a foul or offside. Two added minutes. 40 mins - Five minutes to the break and in truth that's the amount of goals the Town could be ahead by. 39 mins - ...which Willmott curls about half-a-yard wide. 37 mins - Still Hatters well on top here, O'Connor then breaks and is almost away and gone and through on goal but he's bodychecked crudely by Navarro, who gets a yellow for his troubles. Free-kick to the Town... 34 mins Goalscorer Howells has taken a knock and has been replaced by Robbie Willmott. 30 mins - Half-an-hour gone, keep-ball from the Hatters at the minute. 27 mins  GOAL! TOWN 2-0 Kettering (O'Connor) - And now it is two and it's easy as you like for AARON O'CONNOR to out-jump the Poppies defence to send a clever header beyond Walker following Keith Keane's cross from the right. Simples. 26 mins - Oh, almost two. Howells, who is excelling this afternoon glides down the left and squares for Taylor to sidefoot inches, inches wide. Great move. 25 mins - Another chance bombs wide of the Kettering goal as Lawless gets the ball out of his feet with a lovely bit of skill before bending a shot high and wide from the edge of the box. 24 mins - So Kettering only have one man left on the bench. Ex-Hatter Stephen O'Leary then becomes the first man in the book for a foul on Howells. 21 mins - Kettering have finally made that change, Djoumin Sangare's on for Jerel Ifil. 20 mins GOAL! TOWN 1-0 Kettering (Howells) With Kettering down to 10 men, JAKE HOWELLS bursts through and is brought down by Davis and from the resultant free-kick the Town's number 15 thumps it home. Keeper no chance. Get in. 18 mins - Kettering down to 10 men and will need to make a change soon. But the Hatters almost take the lead. O'Connor does fantastic down the left to ride two changes, burst into the box and curl a shot heading for the top corner but with everyone about to celebrate making it 1-0, who's there but Sol Davis to clear off the line with a great header. 14 mins - It's patient and good to watch from the Town at the minute as another chance is created. O'Connor sends Taylor dashing down the left and the full-back does really well to take the ball on his chest and cross from the byeline. It's behind two men in the box but not Jake Howells on the edge of the area but the midfielder spoons a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the area. 12 mins - Hatters dominating posssession at the minute. Dan Gleeson, who has yet to score for the Town, fancies one, driving a shot from 25 yards down the throat of Walker. Still goalless. 9 mins - Chance-a-minute stuff at the moment as goalkeeper Walker's clearance is flat and falls straight to Watkins who side-foots a shot back instantly but the visiting stopper is there to pick it up and save him from embarrassment. 8 mins - And another...all the Hatters here as Watkins drives forward and smahes a shot over the crossbar. Pressure rising. 7 mins - Another effort, this time from 20 yards as Janos Kovacs thumps a curling shot over the bar. 6 mins - Still that bright start continues and the Hatters are denied an early lead by a fantastic stop from Laurie Walker to prevent Danny Crow's acrobatic effort from finding the top corner following Dan Gleeson's right-wing cross. 4 mins - First shot on goal and it's for the visitors as Josh Dawkin, on-loan from Norwich, drives from midfield and hits a low shot from 25 yards that Pilkington gets down to gather comfortably. 3 mins - Bright early start from the Hatters, playing some nice football, but Kettering don't look as though they've come here to sit back. They're 433 too. 2 mins - So there's one change for the Town following the win at Tamworth but it's the same formation. K Pilks in goal behind a back four of Taylor, G Pilks, Gleeson and Kovacs. Lawless is holding in centre-mid with Keane and Watkins ahead of him then we've got Howells wide left, O'Connor wide right and Crow down the middle. 1 min Annnnd we're off and underway here at Kenilworth Road as Kettering kick-off shooting towards the Kenny end. 14:55 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides onto the pitch here on Boxing Day. Great reception. Decent following from Kettering too, 300+ish. 14:48 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 4-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, Gareth Owen: 3-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-1 Luton, James Cunliffe: 1-1 draw, Bill Cole: 3-1 Luton. General consensus says 3-1... 14:36 BIG CROWD EXPECTED We're hoping for a smidgen under 7,000 here this afternoon. 14:25 YOUNGSTERS Kettering can only name two subs and their starting XI includes three teenagers aged 17, 18 and 19. There's also a 20-year-old in there too. 14:15 NO DANCING James Dance misses out against his former club today. He's got a glute injury. In comes Aaron O'Connor. 14:08 YOUR TEAMS Town: K. Pilkington, Gleeson, G. Pilkington, Kovacs, Taylor, Keane, Lawless, Watkins, Howells, O'Connor, Crow. Subs: Tyler, Willmott, Fleetwood, Kissock, Wright. Kettering: Walker, Davis, P. Ifil, Bridges, J. Ifil, Navarro, Hughes-Mason, Pryor, O'Leary, Dawkin, Jones. Subs: Sangare, Noubissie. 14:05 ONE CHANGE Aaron O'Connor replaces James Dance in the Town starting XI whilst Kettering name only two subs and include ex-Hatters Sol Davis and Stephen O'Leary in their side. Full teams to follow. 13:50 BY THE WAY... ...the picture to the right was taken about two years ago. The pitch is fine - fantastic in fact - and there's no snow around the ground. It's just about the best festive-looking image of the ground we have! Anyway, team news coming your way in the next 15 minutes 13:40 WEATHER WATCH A mild, merry 11 degrees celsius out there. No sign of sun though. Shame. 13:35 GOOD & BAD ON BOXING DAY Good Boxing Day: Luton Town 6-3 Arsenal, First Division, 1958, in front of 21,870 at Kenilworth Road. Bad Boxing Day: Northampton Town 6-5 Luton Town, Division Three (South), 1927, Town lead 5-1 at half-time and lose 6-5. 12:50 FESTIVE FOOTBALL Not for nine years have the Town faithful been treated to a home game on Boxing Day so this afternoon is a rarity to say the least. For some of the younger supporters it will be their first visit to Kenilworth Road on this, the one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the calender. They say that the Christmas and New Year period is crucial when assessing a team's chances for the rest of the season. For the Hatters, many will be hoping that Gary Brabin's side can win six points from two matches with Kettering. But that's easier then said than done. Kettering might be a club in crisis - unable to buy players, unable to name a full substitutes' bench, unable to all travel together to Kenilworth Road today, etc etc - but football's a funny old game. You write teams off at your peril and the Town - and Brabin - will be keen to stress to their players that this afternoon's fixture will be less than plain sailing. Who's to say the Poppies won't cause an upset? After all their club captain is none other than Sol Davis, the former Town man who won the League 1 title and Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Yes it's the season of goodwill and he's sure to be given a warm reception from the Hatters faithful but the 7,000 in the seats around the ground will be hoping it's the Hatters are celebrating come 4.45pm. 11:30 MORNING ALL Good morning, and Merry Christmas. We hope you all had a great day yesterday. Today the Hatters entertain Kettering Town at Kenilworth Road and we're hoping for a bumper Christmas crowd on Boxing Day as 7,000 prepare to get their turkey-filled stomachs along to the famous old ground this afternoon. However, if you're not coming along then fear not, stick with us here for full live coverage. Up-to-date text commentary, LIVE radio commentary and then all the reaction, reports, analysis, photographs, match highlights plus all the reaction. For now, we'll leave you to get ready but we'll be back later for a full preview and much more in the lead up to today's game. COYH!  
    Data provided by Press Association

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