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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
18:48 3th March 2012

TOWN 2-0 BATH CITY - REPORT & ANALYSIS

Town 2
Kovacs 17, Watkins 81 Bath City 0 A first-half header from Janos Kovacs and a second-half volley from Adam Watkins tightened the Town's grip on third place in the Blue Square Bet Premier. Kovacs got the ball rolling with a bullet header in the 17th-minute following Jake Howells' right-wing corner. The Hatters bossed possession against the league's bottom side but it wasn't until nine minutes from time when they made the game safe when Watkins finished brilliantly from the edge of the box to seal victory. Kovacs was the one change that Gary Brabin made from last Saturday's FA Trophy win over Gateshead with the Hungarian replacing Shane Blackett in central defence. Gunning for another home win, the Town started well. John Paul Kissock, buoyed by his first goal for the club last Saturday in that victory over Tynesiders, was clearly in the mood to double his Town tally. Springing into action with his trademark step-overs and drag-backs, he swapped passes with Keith Keane to blast a low shot inches wide in the fourth minute. Bath, who arrived at Kenilworth Road without an away win all season in the league and on the back off a sequence of eight successive defeats, were being completely outplayed and on seven minutes Greg Taylor fired a shot into the sidenetting after Howells and Alex Lawless had combined well to fashion the opening down the left. Neither goalkeeper had been called into any serious action in the opening exchanges but after Glyn Garner, the Bath custodian, had fumbled a Robbie Willmott cross that caused panic in the visitors' six-yard box, Tyler had to make a routine save on 14 minutes. George Pilkington's attempted clearance hit visiting striker Sean Canham but after striding clear of the Town defence the Bath man could only hit a tame shot at the keeper. Had Bath snatched the lead it would have been against the run of the play and having been given an early warning by that missed chance, three minutes later the Town were ahead and it couldn't have come any easier. Taylor's dangerous cross was cleared behind for a corner which was whipped into Kovacs by Howells and, eight yards out, the Hungarian powered home a header for his fourth of the season. The game was being played exclusively in the Bath half and the Town came ever-so close to doubling their lead on 23 minutes when Taylor's goal-bound shot hit Danny Crow in the six yard box when it looked as though the ball was destined for the bottom corner of Garner's goal. Having been given the round-around in the first 20 minutes Bath began to tighten things up at the back, working harder to protect Garner's goal and preventing the Hatters from extending their advantage. It wasn't until a minute before the break that the Town came close to making it 2-0 when Howells' high free-kick from 40 yards out found Lawless unmarked on the penalty spot but, with his back to goal, his header was easy pickings for Garner. There was almost a scare on the stroke of half-time for the Hatters when Gethin Jones' header bounced inches wide of the post after the Bath skipper had got on the end of Joe Burnell's clipped free-kick into the box. In any case, and to the Town's relief, it wouldn't have counted with the offside flag raised on the near side. Five minutes after the interval the Town tested Garner's reactions when Crow reacted to Kovacs' attempted bicycle-kick to shoot low from close range that stopper was equal to. Brabin introduced Watkins and Andre Boucaud for Kissock and Keane respectively but it was another midfielder, Lawless, that was next to threaten the Bath goal when he drove a low shot just wide on 65 minutes. The Town were still dominating though, and on 72 minutes they somehow spurned the chance to make it 2-0 when Willmott's cross from the right was deflected goalwards forcing Garner to tip the ball on to post. The rebound dropped kindly at the feet of Crow, whose shot which seemed for all the world likely to double the Hatters lead, but heroically Jones came to the visitors' welcome by throwing himself at the shot to clear the danger. But when it seemed that the second goal would prove elusive, man-of-the-moment Watkins came up trumps nine minutes from time to make the three points safe. Lawless' cross from the right was half-cleared by the Bath defence and no sooner had the ball been hacked away it was in the back of the net via the left boot of the 20-year-old - his first-time volley flying past Garner, giving him no chance. Stuart Fleetwood was introduced a minute after the second goal and he came close in the closing stages three times in a bid to extend the Town's lead, flashing a shot wide on 88 minutes, seeing a diving header at the back-post brilliantly stopped by Garner before lashing over in stoppage time having been put through by Watkins. Another victory, and another home clean sheet. Make that a record 10 consecutive clean sheets at Kenilworth Road. Not bad going. Next up? Second placed Wrexham in front of the Premier Sports cameras on Wednesday night. See you then. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 2 (Kovacs 17, Watkins 81) Bath City 0 Result FULL-TIME It's all over here and the Town have secured three more points. Stay tuned for a full report, photos and reaction. COYH. 90 mins + 2 - Another effort from Fleetwood, Watkins puts the striker away before he lashes a fierce shot inches over. 90 mins - Oh, should be 3-0 and it's a top stop from Garner, diving to his right, keeps out Fleetwood's point-blank diving header following a superb cross from Willmott. We've got three added minutes. 88 mins - Two left on the clock, a sniff for Fleetwood as he meets Willmott's cross but he can't quite connect before trying again and shoots just wide with an angled shot from the edge of the box. 85 mins - Five minutes left here now, plus stoppages. 82 mins Final change for the Town as Howells is replaced by Stuart Fleetwood. 81 mins  GOAL! TOWN 2-0 Bath (Watkins) It was, by all accounts, a lovely goal in the week and now ADAM WATKINS has crowned a week to remember by doubling the Town's lead. Lawless' deep cross from the right is headed clear by the Bath defence but it falls straight onto the left foot of Watkins who crashes home his sixth of the season. Get in! 80 mins - Still the Town probe for a second goal. Will it ever come? Lawless finds space in the Bath penalty and gets a shot away that Paul Stonehouse gets a block to. 73 mins - Quizzical looks aimed in the direction of the referee as he books goalscorer Kovacs when it looked as though he'd got the ball. Bath have a free-kick 30 yards plus out, but can do nothing with it, as it is hit high and wide of Tyler's goal. 72 mins - My word, almost 2-0 and somehow, somehow it isn't. Willmott's right-wing cross takes a deflection which takes it goalwards. Garner scrambles to his left to tip the ball onto the post but with the goal gaping, the ball falls to Crow whose shot is cleared off the line by one of two men throwing themselves towards it and Bath survive. 70 mins - Twenty minutes left here... 66 mins And on Boucaud comes, replacing Keane. 65 mins - The Town are struggling to get in behind the Romans at the minute. Alex Lawless shoots wide from just inside the box. Andre Boucaud about to join the fray. 59 mins - Attendance here this afternoon is 5,745 which includes 80 shouting for Bath in the Oak Road end. 58 mins - He scored last week but he's not going to this it seems as Keith Keane hits a shot into row Z of Kenny End after Bath had half-cleared a Howells corner. 55 mins 10 minutes into the second half Gary Brabin makes his first change as Adam Watkins, fresh from scoring for England C in midweek, replaces Kissock. 50 mins - The Hatters have begun this second half okay and they almost go 2-0 up five minutes after the break as Howells' corner is deep to the back post and retrieved by Pilkington. His dinked pass his met by Kovacs who attempts an overhead kick but the ball bobbles loose to Crow who fires straight at Garner. 46 mins Annnnd we're off again, Bath kick-off, Town now shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end. No changes for either side at the break. HALF-TIME And that's half-time and the Hatters lead thanks to Janos Kovacs' goal. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half. 44 mins - Almost a sniff of 2-0 for the Town as Howells' floated free-kick from way out reaches Lawless whose flick back-wards header is easy for Garner. Decent opportunity given his was unmarked. One added minute here. 42 mins - Bath haven't offered much this half and as they get into the Town half this time their next effort doesn't offer much either as Marley Watkins shanks a shot hight and wide from 20 yards. 39 mins - Better from the Town now as Willmott has come over to the left flank with Lawless pushing on. Hatters upping it as the break approaches. 33 mins - Don't worry, still here, Hatters still probing but they're being frustrated by Bath at the moment who are hounding them much more than they were in the first 20 minutes. 27 mins - Still the Town bossing things here but not much more goalmouth action to fill you in on. 23 mins - Almost 2-0 as the Hatters press for a second. Howells does well down the left to cut the ball back to Taylor's whose side-foot shot looks to be heading home until it hits Crow, who can't get out of the way and the referee signals for a goal-kick. 20 mins - That's Janos' fourth goal this season and his fifth overall in his Town career. 17 mins  GOAL! TOWN 1-0 Bath (Kovacs) I was told earlier that the team had been working on set pieces this week and specifically using JANOS KOVACS getting on the end of them...and lo and behold it's big Hungarian who comes up trumps to head the the Town in front from Jake Howells' corner. Easy peasy. 14 mins - And then typically as I say that Pilkington gives the ball to Sean Canham who runs upfield and only has Kovacs and Tyler to beat before shooting tamely with a left-shot shot at Tyler. A let off. 12 mins - It still might be goalless but the Hatters are completely outplaying Bath at the moment. 8 mins - Bath are stuggling to deal with the Town's attacking play at the minute and Willmott almost forces an opening, his pass across goal from the left is fumbled by Glyn Garner in the visitors' goal and, eventually, the Romans clear. All the Hatters so far. 7 mins - Hatters well on top here and there's more danger for Bath to deal with as Lawless and Howells to well to create an opening for Greg Taylor who hammers a low shot from the left-hand edge of the box into the side netting. 4 mins - Lovely stuff and the Town's first chance is a result of some eye-catching stuff with Kissock at the heart of it. He swaps passes with Keane and drives forward, looks up and hits a firm effort from 25 yards inches past the past. Applause all round. Great play all round. 2 mins - So in these opening stages I can tell you that it's 4-3-3 with Asafu-Adjaye, Pilkington, Kovacs and Taylor across the back, three in centre mid with Lawless holding, Keane and Kissock pushing on, Howells and Willmott occupy the wide areas with Crow down the middle. 1 min Annnnnd we're off here at Kenilworth Road as Town kick-off shooting towards the Oak Road end in this first half. Enjoy the updates. COYH! 14:55 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides on the pitch. Standby for handshakes, coin tosses, photographs, stretches and applause before we get underway. 14:50 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 4-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 3-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 7-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-0 Luton, Lauren Archell: 2-0 Luton, Bill Cole: 4-1 Luton. 14:30 ON THIS DAY The Town are gunning for their first win on this day in 42 years. That was a 2-0 win over Tranmere Rovers at Kenilworth Road in 1970. Goals from Malcolm Macdonald and Jim Ryan secured the win in front of a season's best crowd of 11,368. 14:10 ONE CHANGE Janos Kovacs is in for Shane Blackett as Town boss Gary Brabin makes one change to the side that beat Gateshead last week. It's a very strong bench that has no goalkeeper. Town: Tyler, Asafu-Adjaye, Kovacs, Pilkington, Taylor, Lawless, Keane, Kissock, Willmott, Howells, Crow. Subs: Boucaud, McAllister, Fleetwood, O'Connor, Watkins. Bath: Garner, Stonehouse, Jones, Connolly, Hogg, Preece, M. Canham, Watkins, Burnell, Gallinagh, S. Canham. Subs: Rollo, Murray, Cook, Shepherd, Doherty. o13:50 RECORD BREAKING ATTEMPT Today the Town go in search of a club record 10 consecutive home clean sheets. We're currently standing on nine, which is the record that  was acheived over two seasons, at the end of the 69/70 season and the start of the 70/71. 13:45 TEAMS NEWS SOON 15 minutes and we'll have the team news for you. We've had a few internet problems here but they've been sorted...thankfully. 13:00 WEATHER WATCH Spring is in the air. It's warm when the sun comes out, a bit cooler when it goes behind the clouds. 12:00 PRIORITIES The business end of the season is upon us. Can you believe we're in March already? No, neither can I, but today the Hatters welcome Bath City to Kenilworth Road in search of three points against the Blue Square Bet Premier's bottom club. With the Hatters facing potential glory on two fronts in the final months of the campaign, it might be easy for them to lose focus. But under Gary Brabin there's no chance of that. Last Saturday's FA Trophy victory over Gateshead set-up a two-legged semi-final meeting with York City. Either the Town or the Minstermen will be at Wembley on 12th May but, until that's decided there's the important issue of the promotion. As ever there's no getting away from what the priority is. Fleetwood Town and Wrexham may have surged clear in a two-horse race for the sole automatic promotion place but the Hatters, in third will not give up until it's mathematically impossible. With the Town scheduled to still meet both, anything can happen. Wrexham are up at the Racecourse on Wednesday night but, before then, Bath are the visitors to Kenilworth Road. The Romans have found life difficult in their second season back in non-league's elite and, with only three wins all season and 18 points to their name, Adie Britton's side lie bottom of the table and face a mammoth task if they're to avoid the drop. If the visitors - who were a part of our 12th anniversary last season - are to make inroads in the 10-point-gap that separates them today - then they will have to win for the first time on their travels in the league this season. The Town haven't tasted defeat at home since Bonfire Night, winning five and drawing two of their last seven games at Kenilworth Road. At a first glance it might not look like the most important of matches, but a sixth win in nine home matches would go a long way to securing the Hatters' position in the top five. COYH. Well, whatever happens today, and indeed 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 Gary as well as match action from Gareth Owen to follow after the final whistle. Be sure to check out www.hatterspics.co.uk - 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 andrew.barringer@lutontown.co.uk 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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