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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
15:52 18th March 2012

TOWN 1-1 YORK CITY (AGG 1-2) - REPORT &

Town 1
Willmott 43 York City 1
Blair 90 York City win 2-1 on aggregate For the second successive year the Hatters were left heartbroken in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy as a last-minute winner gave York victory to send them to Wembley. Needing a goal to level the tie the Town dominated the first half and took the lead through Robbie Willmott's goal two minutes before half-time. But York, who had showed little desire to extend their lead prior to the Hatters' goal, bossed the opening 15 minutes of the second half but failed to test Mark Tyler. The Town reassumed territorial advantage after a couple of near misses for the visitors but then, in cruel fashion, York won it when Matty Blair's header from Jamal Fyfield's cross flashed past Tyler. The Town begun showing four changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Darlington on Tuesday night. With Ed Asafu-Adjaye ruled out with a back injury, Curtis Osano slotted in at right-back. Keith Keane and Jake Howells - sent-off at Bootham Crescent last weekend - returned from suspension with Godfrey Poku and Adam Watkins missing out. With Craig McAllister cup-tied, Stuart Fleetwood, the scorer of the late equaliser at Darlington, joined Danny Crow in attack. Trailing from last week's first leg the Hatters started well. Fleetwood rifled a firm effort inches wide of the target just four minutes in as the Town set about clawing back the deficit. That near miss cranked up the already partisan atmosphere inside Kenilworth Road and, as the Town continued to press and, indeed impress, early doors, skipper George Pilkington saw a header blocked following a right-wing corner on eight minutes before former York man Alex Lawless then saw an effort from the edge of penalty area charged down and cleared. The noise levels went up once more a minute later when, from out of nothing, Crow swivelled in the box having taken Lawless' pass to shoot goalwards with a fine effort that Michael Ingham, the York goalkeeper, did well to get the faintest of fingers on to turn the ball around the post. Still the Hatters poured forward, Fleetwood twice having efforts on 12 minutes at the back-post when unmarked; his first shot finding the legs of a York defender, his second finding the York fans in the Oak. York, though, were weathering the Town storm but, after a period of play dominated by the midfield, the Hatters sprung back into action. Willmott and Howells had swapped flanks and it was the former who had the Hatters' next meaningful chance on the half-hour when he smashed a shot goalwards that cannoned off the head of a brave York defender. Moments later Willmott then attempted another long-ranger that whistled through bodies in the box which almost found Keane diving at full stretch in the six yard box to get a touch on. Five minutes later, on 35 minutes, Howells made a mess of a decent chance when unmarked 10 yards out after the ball had bounced his way when it looked as though Janos Kovacs was being impeded. By now the Town had changed tact, going 4-3-3 with Howells moving inside to join Lawless and Keane in central midfield and Willmott and Fleetwood occupying the wide areas. The Hatters had dominated the first period for such long spells that the only disappointment was that they hadn't tested Ingham but, two minutes before the break, they got their just rewards when they levelled things up on aggregate. York left-back Daniel Parslow got in a pickle which allowed Crow to surge down the right flank. With the visitors high up the pitch, Willmott hared unnoticed into the box and within seconds Crow's pass found the winger who did well to tuck the ball past Ingham from six yards. It was his eighth of the season. The players, bench and support erupted in celebration. The goal had come at such an important time before the half-time whistle. York boss Gary Mills subbed former Hatter Jason Walker at half-time for Ashley Chambers and the substitution almost had the desired effect three minutes into the second half when the winger curled a shot just over the crossbar from the edge of the area as the visitors' made a bright start to the second period. The visitors were all of a sudden bossing things and, after Willmott's cross eluded Fleetwood in the York penalty area, Chambers spurned a glorious chance to restore their aggregate advantage. He did the hard work: beating Osano and Kovacs in the penalty area having wormed into the box at pace - but then somehow missed with a shot from five yards when it seemed easier to score. It was all York as they pushed forward with Chambers at the heart of their danger. The Town breathed a sigh of relief on 62 minutes when Fyfield did brilliantly to burst forward from defence only to be flagged offside when one-on-one with Tyler. Gary Brabin made his first substitution on 65 minutes when Fleetwood was replaced by Watkins and the Town substitute did well to set Howells on his way three minutes later that saw him fouled on the edge of box. From the free-kick, Willmott's swirling goal-bound effort was stopped well by Ingham as it rocketed at speed towards the bottom corner. York's early second half threat had been quelled by the Town defence and Watkins showed fine strength to bounce Patrick McLaughlin off the ball in the centre circle to drive forward and set-up Howells to win a corner as the Hatters went in the hunt for a winner. With 13 minutes left York almost got their noses back in front when Blair's right-wing cross was met by Jamie Reed at the near post but his first-time shot bounced gratefully into the arms of Tyler. As time ticked down the Hatters pressed for a winner. Osano's shot from inside the box won a corner from which Crow volleyed inches over following Kovacs header across goal on 86 minutes. But just when it seemed the tie would enter extra-time the visitors won it to break Hatters hearts. The Town failed to clear their lines down the left and, from Fyfield's cross, Blair was there to head unmarked past Tyler. Four added minutes came and went during which the Hatters huffed and puffed in an attempt to haul them level again, but after one last corner was claimed by Ingham the referee signalled full-time and it was York that celebrated an aggregate victory and with it a place in the final against Newport on May 12. After Swindon Supermarine, Hinckley United, Gateshead and Kidderminster, the Town's tales in the Trophy won't be ending with a trip to Wembley. Some may say 'it's only the Trophy'. Indeed more important ventures lay ahead but boy did defeat hurt this afternoon. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Result from Kenilworth Road Luton Town 1 (1) (Willmott 43) York City 1 (2) (Blair 90) *Aggregate score in brackets FULL-TIME Report, reaction and photographs to follow. 90 mins - Four added mins, Kovacs playing centre-half. 90 mins GOAL Town 1-1 YORK (Blair) Fyfield cross, headed home into the box by MATTY BLAIR. Disaster for the Town. 86 mins - Chance, Crow on the volley from a Kovacs header from a Town corner. 85 mins - Now five left. 80 mins - 10 minutes left here. 77 mins - Oh, almost 1-1, York break down the right, Reed is there in the box with a first-time shot from close range that Tyler held. 76 mins - First Town man in the book, Willmott going in late on Challinor. 73 mins - Almost a great chance for the Town as Watkins does brilliantly to win the ball off McLaughlin and drive forward. He's faced with a number of options and decides to pick out Howells but his pass is over-hit and although the Hatters win a corner, York clear. 70 mins - Town pressing now. Willmott flashing a shot wide. Attendance 5,796 here include precisely 400 from York. 68 mins - Oh, from the free-kick, it's almost 2-0 as Willmott's curling effort is kept out well by Ingham. Good stop. 67 mins - Another yellow for York, Fyfield on Howells. Crude. 65 mins First Town sub, Adam Watkins replaces Fleetwood. 60 mins - Hour gone, all square here. 56 mins - Should be 1-1. Chambers does really well down the left, snaking past Osano and then selling Kovacs before then shooting wide with the goal gaping. It seemed harder to miss. 55 mins - 10 minutes into the second half, Town win a free-kick themselves and Kovacs gees up the support in the Kenilworth Road end. 53 mins - Half a sniff for York, Kovacs concedes a free-kick 25-yards out that Reed, curls wide, Tyler watching it go by. 51 mins - Town break forward as Willmott gets in around the back of the York defence. He gets the better of his marker to square a low pass into the six yard box but Fleetwood can't quite get there. 48 mins - York starting the second half well, Chambers, who is a tricky customer at the best of times, curls one just over from the edge of the box. 46 mins Off for the second half, Town kick-off. There's a change for York at the break, Ashley Chambers replaces Jason Walker. HALF-TIME And that's the break. 1-0. Bring. On. The. Second. Half. 45 mins - Three added mins to half-time. Such an important to get a goal before the break. Willmott's eighth of the season by the way. 43 mins  GOAL! TOWN 1-0 York (Agg 1-1) (Willmott) - Crowd on their feet and it's well and truly game on. Daniel Parslow, the York left-back gets in a pickle, allowing Crow to surge down the right. He looks up and spots ROBBIE WILLMOTT in the middle and the pass is perfect for the winger to tap home past Ingham. 1-1 on aggregate now. 41 mins - By the way, meaning to tell you...the Town have been playing 433 for the last 20 minutes or so. Fleetwood and Willmott on the flanks, Crow down the middle with Keane, Lawless and Howells in the middle. 40 mins - First word from the ref to the York captain regarding wasting time. No-one in the book. 35 mins - Almost a sniff for the Hatters, Kovacs, wrestled off the ball, no pen given, before the ball is popped off to Howells who makes a mess of a decent chance 10 yards out, slicing wide. 30 mins - Better from the Town again, Willmott and Howells have swapped flanks and the former whacks a shot from 20 yards that a York man gets a head to. The ball then comes back to Willmott, who pulls of a lovely piece of skill to drive another shot at goal that flies past the diving Keane, attempting to get a head on. 28 mins - 28 on the clock and York register their first shot: way off target from sub Brown from distance. 27 mins - York come forward, the Town eventually doing enough to clear the danger. 26 mins - Another chance off target from Fleetwood, curling way into the Oak Road end from the left-hand edge of the box. 24 mins - First yellow, first sub, both for York. Matty Blair gets a yellow card for bringing down Lawless before Kerr is withdrawn for Scott Brown. 20 mins - Don't worry, still here, been a dearth of action for the last eight minutes. Scott Kerr's been down receiving treatment and now we're off and underway once more. 12 mins - Constant Town pressure here, force their second corner. They need to make their dominance count. Then, Fleetwood, unmarked at the back post, hits a shot at a defender before spooning the second chance high and wide. 9 mins - And another chance as Crow does well to turn in the box to swivel to get a shot on target that Ingham does well to tip around the post. 8 mins - All the Hatters now as the atmosphere goes up a notch as from a right-wing corner Pilkington sees a header nodded away before Lawless, inside the D sees a shot blocked in the penalty area. Good pressure from the Town. 4 mins - CHANCE. And it's an early chance for the Town as Lawless plays in Fleetwood, played onside by York skipper Chris Smith, and he drives a low shot across goal but it flashes inches the wrong side of the post. 2 mins - Great atmosphere here inside Kenilworth Road, Hatters lining up 4-4-2 with a back four of Osano, Pilkington, Kovacs and Taylor across the back, Willmott's on the right wing, Howells is on the left, Lawless and Keane are in centre-mid with Crow and Fleetwood in attack. 1 min Annnnnnd we're off here as York get us off and underway. Town shooting towards the Oak Road end this first half. COYH! 14:55 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides, Town in orange, York in blue. Standby for coin toss, handshakes, huddles etc and then we'll be all set. Enjoy the updates. COYH. 14:50 CROWDED HOUSE We'll just be short of 6,000 inside Kenilworth Road this afternoon. The away end is filling up too, about 500 from Yorkshire making the trip south. 14:40 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 1-0 Luton (2-1 aet, Luton 6-5 on pens), Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, Lauren Archell: 2-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 1-1 draw, Mark Wood: 2-1 Luton (aet 3-1 Luton), Bill Cole: 1-1 draw. 14:22 ED OUT There's no Ed Asafu-Adjaye this afternoon as the defender has a back injury. 14:10 FOUR CHANGES Keith Keane, Jake Howells, Stuart Fleetwood and Curtis Osano start for the Town. Craig McAllister, Godfrey Poku, Ed Asafu-Adjaye and Adam Watkins miss out. Watkins is on the bench, however. Town: Tyler, Osano, Pilkington, Kovacs, Taylor, Keane, Lawless, Howells, Willmott, Crow, Fleetwood. Subs: Blackett, O'Connor, Henry, Watkins, Woolley. York: Ingham, Meredith, Smith, Parslow, Reed, Kerr, Walker, Fyfield, Blair, Challinor, McLaughlin. Subs: Musselwhite, Chambers, Brown, Blinkhorn, Doig. 13:50 THE MANAGER'S MESSAGE On the importance of the Hatters' support this afternoon: "It does have a big impact on the players when we have had supporters who have been really positive, vocal and backed the lads through thick and thin. It's important we get a connection between supporters and players because it gives the whole place a lift. It can be a big weapon for us as well. If fans and players all get together, supporting and backing each other then it really is a powerful, intimidating tool." 13:30 PUMP THIS PARTY The Town dressing room is booming with some Rhianna, 90 minutes before kick-off. Gary Brabin's just come into the media office. He's all smiles. We wish him good luck as he leaves to enter the dressing room. 13:00 WEATHER WATCH Raining ever-so slightly, bit of a nip in the air. Grey skies above. Don't let that deter you from coming this afternoon though. Remember you can still pay on the day. 12:30 BY THE WAY For those asking, away goals do NOT count in today's game. 12:00 WE'VE MADE IT THIS FAR Saturday 10th December. Picture the scene. 1,298 souls see the Town narrowly edge out Swindon Supermarine 2-0 at Kenilworth Road. It's cold, misty and, in truth, low on excitement and drama. Wednesday 18th January. Picture the scene. 754 souls watch the Hatters and Hinckley play out a goalless draw, days after the game was originally postponed due to a frozen pitch 90 minutes before kick-off. Monday 23rd January. Picture the scene. 1,004 loyal souls make their way to Kenilworth Road to see the Town finally see of Hinckley with a 3-0 victory to get their names in the hat for the next round. Tuesday 7th February. Picture the scene. A freezing, freezing cold night in Kidderminster. The Hatters put on a performance to warm the hearts of the 111 travelling fans in the away end as a 2-1 victory puts them in the quarter-finals. Saturday 25th February. Picture the scene. On a gloriously sunny day in February, John Paul Kissock nets a bicycle kick and Keith Keane scored an audacious 35-yard free-kick in a 2-0 win over Gateshead. The semi-finals beckon. That's where we're up to. Little did we all know that three ago the Hatters would be 90 minutes away from a Wembley final. The Town of course need to overcome York City today, who hold a one-goal advantage. A victory by two clear goals will see them under the arch on 12th May, four years after holding aloft the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in captivating style. That last visit ultimately signified the Hatters' demise to non-league football where they lie today. A visit back could herald their return. But the players need you, the supporters. This club needs you. Get through today with Wembley on the horizon and they'll be a buzz everywhere. If they say winning breeds confidence then what do they say about passionate supporters bouncing up and down dreaming of a promotion and Wembley double as a boost your confidence? It's not over yet. In fact, it's only just begun. Be a part of it. Come on you Hatters. 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? 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  
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