Kidderminster Harriers 0
Massive, huge, gargantuan, call it what you will - the Town needed three points in this six-pointer against Play-Off rivals Kidderminster and got them thanks to Robbie Willmott's fine goal midway through the second half.
Knowing that only a win would give Paul Buckle's side a fighting chance of pipping a posse of other teams in the fight for a top five berth, the Town, backed by a ferocious best crowd of the season of 8,415, didn't disappoint.
Willmott's strike on 67 minutes brought the house down and, apart from a scare in the final minute when Harriers struck the post and a saw a shot hacked off the line by Jake Howells, the Town dominated and deserved to win a vital three points that lifts them into that precious fifth spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
The Hatters, unchanged by Buckle following Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Ebbsfleet, began on top. Stuart Fleetwood, the scorer of four goals in this last two home games, almost had a sight of goal inside the first 90 seconds but was quickly snuffed out by the giant centre-half pairing of the visitors.
In truth the first 10 minutes was cagey stuff but the first real chance of the game fell the Hatters' way on 10 minutes when Curtis Osano, who would go on to have a super game at right-back, ran onto Alex Lawless' square pass to drive forward and arrow a shot inches wide of post.
Three minutes later the home hordes were incensed by the theatrics of Marvin Johnson, the Kiddy midfielder, when he flung himself to the floor in the penalty box. Unimpressed, referee Bond got his book out for the first time of the afternoon.
That incident came after a rare foray into the Town half from the visitors and the Hatters immediately regained control to almost come close to forcing Tony Breeden, the visiting goalkeeper into a meaningful save. Howells and Willmott both had sights of goal before being denied space in the six yard box by the massed ranks of men in red shirts.
The ref got his book out again on 19 minutes when Kyle Storer was shown a yellow card for a blatant push on Fleetwood. It was one of those which you have seen red cards given for, but, on this occasion, the offender remained on the pitch, much to the bemusement of the Town bench.
Willmott fizzed a shot just over the crossbar on 20 minutes but that was the only chance of note in a 10-minute spell dominated by the midfield as both sides traded possession.
However, the deadlock was almost broken on the half-hour. Kovacs, the winner of two awards pre-match (before roaring down the tunnel to the appreciation of the Town support), powered a towering header goalwards following Willmott's right wing corner but, to the Hatters' disappointment, Harriers right-back Lee Vaughan hacked the ball away. 0-0 it remained.
As half-time approached the Town upped the ante, enjoying their best spell of possession as they penned the visitors back into the own box, but despite their dominance, nothing came of it and the score was blank at the break.
A minute after the break Osano's intuitive through pass found Andre Gray but the livewire forward, who had had a quiet first half, saw his shot from six yards out.
Howells tried his luck from distance two minutes later before Gray did even better on 50 minutes when he showed tremendous skill and bravery to worm past two Kiddy defenders to race into the box and strike a low shot at goal that Breeden did well to save with his legs.
Breeden got down to keep out Willmott's ambitious effort out of nothing five minutes later as the rain began to teem down but the Town then spurned a decent chance to take the lead on 58 minutes when they hit the visitors on the counter. Osano burst forward from right-back to feed Adam Watkins whose deep cross was kept in brilliantly by Willmott and then Fleetwood hooked an overhead-kick over the crossbar from six yards.
Harriers were edging back into the game though, and after Johnson tested Mark Tyler on the hour, the Hatters' stopper did even better on 65 minutes when Harriers came mightily close to take the lead. Substitute Ryan Rowe had only been on the pitch 30 seconds when he received the ball and drove a shot from just inside the box that the Hatters number one turned around the post with a firm right hand.
Kidderminster were enjoying a decent spell but the Town had other ideas and, on 67 minutes, the goal that could shape the season of both sides duly arrived. Tyler and George Pilkington almost allowed the visitors to nip in when leaving the ball for one another on the edge of the area but Tyler took control and arrowed a flat, direct pass into the path of Willmott. The winger's first touch was vital - allowing him to speed clear of his marker. Breeden in the visitors' goal slipped as the Town man raced goalwards but he still had plenty to do. Town followers rose to their feet in anticipation and seconds later they were roaring, jumping and hugging each other in celebration as Willmott lashed home.
Gone was the tension and relief but it only served to kick Kidderminster into gear as they went in search of an equaliser.
But the Town came close to doubling their lead eight minutes from the end when Lawless blazed into the packed Kenilworth Road end when well-placed after Fleetwood had worked hard to fashion the chance.
Buckle introduced three substitutes in a seven-minute spell as Godfrey Poku, Craig McAllister and Shane Blackett were all sent on to see the Hatters over the line.
Time was ticking as Harriers lay siege on the Town goal and, with a minute left on the clock, they came incredibly close to nicking a last-gasp equaliser. Firstly Luke Jones saw a header hit the post from a right-wing corner before Steve Guinan's follow-up from five yards was cleared off the line by Howells. Lots of puffed cheeks and exhaling all round in the home ends. Hands on heads in the Oak.
Four minutes of stoppage time came and went, not without its nervous moments, but come the final whistle it was the Hatters who were celebrating a crucial victory.
With York winning at Braintree, Southport drawing and Gateshead losing, it means there is just one place up for grabs in the Play-Offs - and will either belong to the Town or Kidderminster.
Tonight it belongs to the Town and Buckle's boys need just two points from their last two away fixtures. Three points would be easier...A win at Gateshead on Tuesday - their game in hand - would clinch it.
Remember, all you have to do is believe.
For minute-by-minute analysis see below.
Result from Kenilworth Road
Luton Town 1 (Willmott 67)
Kidderminster Harriers 0
FULL-TIME All over here, Town victorious. Full report, reaction, photographs and highlights to come. COYH!
90 mins - Four added minutes...
89 mins - Harriers hit the post,spun back and then Guinan sees a goal-bound shot cleared off the line by Howells - wow.
88 mins - Time ticking here. Two vital minutes left.
85 mins and a third sub...Shane Blackett on for the goalscorer Willmott.
83 mins Second sub for the Hatters, McAllister on for Fleetwood.
82 mins - Decent chance for 2-0, Fleetwood doing the donkey work to cut the ball back for Lawless who, leaning back, blazes over.
81 mins - Almost half a sniff for Fleetwood from way, way out, almost 45 yards as he seizes on a poor kick from Breeden but he gets it call wrong.
78 mins First Town sub of the afternoon Godfrey Poku's on for Watkins.
77 mins - Time ticking here. Harriers the ones pressing now.
73 mins - Vital last 17 minutes. Town will want another goal. Squeaky bum time indeed.
67 mins &nbsp;GOAL! TOWN 1-0 Kidderminster - A big, big goal. Tyler and Pilkington almost get in a pickle on the edge of the box before the goalkeeper spots ROBBIE WILLMOTT racing forward. It's a brilllant pass, and the winger is onside, he tip-toes along the byeline, cuts inside and absolutely blasts home from an acute angel to send KR crazy. Get in!
65 mins - Harriers bossing it now, Tyler comes to the Town's rescue to keep out newly-introduced sub Ryan Rowe's effort that was heading for the bottom corner. By the way, 8,415 inside KR with 751 shouting for Kiddy. The best of the season.
62 mins - Keane in the book for the Town for a tug in the centre of the pitch as Harriers looked to break.
60 mins - Hour gone, bit of pressure from Kiddy, Johnson tests Tyler with a low from the edge of the box. Comfortable stop from the stopper.
58 mins - Rain coming down here, Town force a decent chance on the counter, Osano streaking forward, pops it to Watkins whose across is deep to the back stick, kept in by Willmott and then hooked over the bar from Fleetwood with his back to goal.
55 mins - More work for Breeden to do as he holds on to Willmott's firm effort from the edge of the box.
50 mins - Chance, and Gray does well to squeeze between two defenders to fire a shot at Breeden that the goalkeeper saves with his legs.
48 mins - Hatters still pushing early on to break the deadlock, Howells sending a shot just over the bar.
46 mins - Almost half a sniff for the Town inside the first minute of the second half as Osano's clever throughball sends Gray through but his shot is blocked.
46 mins Annnnnnnd we're off for the second half. Kidderminster kick-off and the Town are now shooting towards the Kenny end. No changes at the break.
HALF-TIME Town ended the half well on top but could not force the ball home. They've had the best chance - Kovacs' header cleared off the line - but it remains goalless at the break. Check back in 15 miniutes.
44 mins - All the Town now...
43 mins - Town upping as they break appraoches...
39 mins - Half-time approaching here, Hatters still in search of breaking the deadlock here.
35 mins - 10 minutes to the break here and it's gone a bit flat here. Town marginally on top.
29 mins - Oh, chance. Fleetwood wins a corner down the right that Willmott hangs up into the box. Up gets Kovacs to thump a towering header goalwards thats looks to be heading home before Lee Vaughan clears off the line. The rebound falls at the feet of Kovacs again but at too much pace and his second effort flies over the bar.
28 mins - Dearth of real chances here at the minute. End-to-end stuff though - Johnson whacking a shot high and wide for the Harriers.
20 mins - Back come the Town, Willmott fizzing a shot wide that takes a nick off a Harrier for a corner which Breeden, the visiting keeper, takes well. 20 gone, goalless.
19 mins - Another yellow for Harriers, this time for Kyle Storer for a blatant push on Fleetwood right in front of the Town dugout.
17 mins - Town on top now, and have a couple of decent chances in the space of 60 seconds as Kiddy fail to clear their lines. Firstly Willmott is found in the area and has a shot blocked before Howells is found tight on the byeline but sees his cross eventually cleared.
13 mins - First yellow of the afternoon is for Kidderminster man as Marvin Johnson gets a booking for diving in front of the Kenny End under a challenge from Kovacs.
10 mins - First chance of the game and it falls for the Hatters. Watkins and then Lawless spread the play to Osano on the right and he runs at the Harriers defence before letting a low shot rip from the edge of the area that misses the post by about a yard.
8 mins - No chance for either side as yet, but quite a few Town players slipping on the surface in the centre circle.
4 mins - Kiddy win the first corner, almost half a scare for the Hatters as the ball drops into the Town box following a right-wing cross but the ball is blocked and Tyler can gather.
2 mins - After a small half-a-sniff for Fleetwood, latching onto a pass from Willmott I can tell you it's as you were for the Town following last Tuesday's 3-0 win over Ebbfleet.
1 min And we're off as the Town kick-off shooting towards the Oak Road end in the first half. Come. On. You. Hatters.
14:55 HERE THEY COME
Here come the two sides, Town in orange, Kidderminster in red. Great reception. Enjoy the updates #COYH
14:47 CONGRATS JANOS
Janos Kovacs is being awarded with the Bobbers Travel Club away player of the season and Loyal Luton Supporters Club player of the year. He then goes off roaring to the crowd before heading for the dressing room.
14:45 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS
Andrew Barringer: 2-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-0 Luton, Simon Oxley: 3-1, Bill Cole: 3-2 Luton, Lauren Archell: 2-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-2 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 3-1 Luton.
14:25 FILLING UP
Kenilworth Road is filling up rather nicely. Kidderminster have brought 10 coaches and the away end is also busy.
14:05 YOUR TEAMS
Town: Tyler, Osano, Pilkington, Kovacs, Howells, Lawless, Willmott, Keane, Watkins, Fleetwood, Gray. Subs: Gleeson, Taylor, Blackett, Poku, McAllister.
Kidderminster: Breeden, Vaughan, Williams, Jones, Marshall, Hankin, Vincent, Wright, Storer, Malbon, Johnson. Subs: Guinan, Rowe, Lyness, Demetriou, Bradley.
14:00 TOWN UNCHANGED
Same XI that beat Ebbsfleet. One change on the bench. Greg Taylor's back in for JP Kissock.
13:25 HURRY, HURRY
Only around 800 tickets are left in home areas for today's game. You can purchase them from the ticket office or pay on the turnstile to sit in the Main Stand.
13:10 HIGH SPIRITS
The players have arrived and now they are meeting the today's match sponsors in the dressing room. There's a lot of smiling going on in there.
Weather forecast today of sunshine and showers today. Bring a brolly for the walk up to Kenilworth Road.
Squeaky bum time.
From the sound made from squirming or moving forward and back in one's seat while watching an exciting sporting event. Attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson, famed British football manager and former player.
squeaky bum time (informal, chiefly UK) An exciting part of a sporting event, particularly the final minutes of a close game.
It's hard to believe that this afternoon could be the Town's final home match of the season. Time flies when you're having fun - so they say.
Today the Town and Kidderminster go head-to-head in their biggest game of the season so far. Victory for either would go along way to securing a place in the top five and with it a crack at the Play-Offs. Sweaky bum time has arrived...
There's a noticeable new purpose and swagger about the Hatters under the stewardship of Paul Buckle. Seven points from nine games, two home wins on the bounce and seven goals scored.
Rome wasn't built in a fortnight and the new boss knows that. But the Hatters have glory in their own hands. Three points this afternoon and another three on Tuesday at Gateshead and they will have made it. If only it was that easy.
Harriers arrive at Kenilworth Road knowing that a win for them would make them huge favourites for a place in the top five. And they will make the trip from Worcestershire buoyed by five straight wins and six wins and a draw from their last seven games.
Kidderminster are set to bring at least 500 supporters this afternoon and well&nbsp;over 8,000 are expected to click through the turnstiles at the famous old ground.
Nothing will be won or lost&nbsp;today but imagine if the Hatters are celebrating a victory come 5pm...
The Buckle Effect is taking hold. Make sure you're the 12th man. Together we can conquer.
Well, whatever happens today, and indeed for the rest of 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.
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