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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
23:01 30th March 2012

TOWN 1-2 YORK CITY - REPORT & ANALYSIS

Town 1
Gray 5 York City 2
McLaughlin 80, Meredith 86 The Town let a half-time lead slip as two goals in the final 10 minutes gave promotion rivals York victory at Kenilworth Road. Ahead thanks to Andre Gray's second goal in as many games the Hatters contrived to throw away their advantage in the closing stages. Patrick McLaughlin's goal on 80 minutes brought the Minstermen level and worse followed for the Town four minutes from when City secured all three points when James Meredith tapped home. But it all started so positively. Showing no changes to the starting XI from last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Grimsby, the Town started well and got off to the perfect start by taking a vital early lead on five minutes. Danny Crow's flick-on found Gray in the box and, after holding off the attentions of his marker, the striker blasted home from a tight angle. Gray came close to adding another to his tally four minutes later when he took Alex Lawless' pass 20 yards out and tested Michael Ingham, the York goalkeeper, who made a comfortable stop, diving down to his right. Ingham then came to the visitors' rescue twice in quick succession on 12 minutes when he did well to prevent the Town doubling their advantage. York centre-back Chris Doig made a hash of a clearance on the edge of his own box which gave Crow the chance to shoot at goal. Ingham was equal to that left-foot shot before Gray, following up on the rebound, blasted a shot goalwards that the keeper did even better to keep out with his foot. The Hatters were playing some decent stuff and they almost made their dominance count once more in 20 minutes when lovely wing play from Robbie Willmott won a corner down the left from which Janos Kovacs glanced wide. York's attacks were few and far between such was the Town's superiority and a fine flowing move on 23 minutes almost saw them double their lead. Gray began the threat - a wicked dummy fooling the York defence - before Curtis Osano swapped passes with Crow to arrow a low shot at goal that didn't miss by much. Against York in the Trophy, and against Grimsby last week, the Hatters were guilty of not taking their chances when a goal up and they got two huge reminders for the need to score a second as York came close to levelling. Firstly, on 29 minutes, Mark Tyler did brilliantly to read Jamie Reed's effort after the striker had sneaked ahead of the Town defence to latch onto McLaughlin's clever pass. Then, three minutes later, out of nothing, Lanre Oyebanjo saw a 25-yard effort ping back off the post with Tyler beaten. There was no doubt that the Minstermen had bossed the final 10 minutes of the first half but it was the Town that came out all guns blazing after the break. Crow had a great chance to make it 2-0 on 52 minutes when a York clearance fell his way before Gray spurned an even better chance three minutes later. Tenacious place from Godfrey Poku forced the ball into Gray's direction but, with Ingham to beat, the goalscorer, could only find the legs of York custodian from 12 yards. Back came York though, and they should have levelled it up on 55 minutes when the Town had Poku to thank for a fantastic intervention to hack Jamie Reed's shot clear after the visiting striker had wormed his way into the box one-on-one with Tyler. Shortly before the hour, Gary Brabin introduced Craig McAllister for Crow, changing tact and going 4-3-3. The on-loan Newport man joining Gray and Willmott in a three-pronged attack. There was almost a scare for the Town on 66 minutes when Oyebanjo's harmless effort from 30 yards surprised Tyler and needed to be flick onto and over the crossbar by the goalkeeper. Goalscorer Gray, who had run himself into ground for 73 minutes, was given a standing ovation when he was replaced by Stuart Fleetwood as the Town went in search of a second killer goal but it was York who upped the ante in the final 15 minutes with Oyebanjo seeing a well-hit effort deflected effort behind for a corner. However, the Minstermen, like they did a fortnight ago, stole an equaliser: the Hatters fell asleep from a right-wing free-kick, conceded after Jake Howells' foul on Jason Walker, and McLaughlin, unmarked on the edge of the box, saw an effort bounce past Tyler. It was a huge kick in the teeth for the Town and worse followed with just four minutes left on the clock when York won it. The Hatters failed to clear a right-wing corner, and although Ashley Chambers' firm shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly parried out by Tyler, Meredith was on hand to knock the rebound home to complete the turnaround. The Hatters huffed and puffed in search of a late equaliser. Six minutes of injury time was added but after Kovacs - thrown into attack up from defence - and McAllister both saw chances go begging that, as they say, was that. Luton Town 1 (Gray 5) York City 2 (McLaughlin 80, Meredith 86) FULL-TIME All over here, defeat for the Town. Report, reaction and photographs to follow. 90 mins + 5 - Into the last minute of stoppage time, McAllister acrobatic effort over the crossbar. 90 mins + 2- Town pushing, everyone up, including Kovacs, he gets a toe to a knock down which flies just wide. 90 mins - Into the last minute. Six added minutes. 88 mins - Half a sniff for the Town, McAllister header stopped by Ingham following Fleetwood cross. 87 mins - Save for Tyler to make with three minutes left, to keep out Bopp's effort. 86 mins  GOAL! Town 1-2 YORK (Meredith) - Disaster for Town. From a left-wing corner Ashley Chambers' shot is brilliantly stopped by Tyler but JAMES MEREDITH is on hand to tap home from six yards on the rebound. 85 mins Third and final sub for the Town, Poku, on a yellow, is replaced by Adam Watkins. 85 mins - Five minutes left to find a winner. 80 mins GOAL! Town 1-1 YORK (McLaughlin) - A blow for the Town. From that free-kick, nobody picks up PATRICK McLAUGHLIN on the edge of the area and he scuffs home a shot that creeps into the corner of the net to bring the visitors level. 80 mins - 10 minutes left, Howells in the ref's book for a foul on Walker. 73 mins  Second change for the Hatters, Andre Gray looks knackered, limping, off to a standing ovation, replaced by Stuart Fleetwood. 67 mins - By the way, 5,925 inside Kenilworth Road tonight with 196 shouting for York. 66 mins - Almost an embarrassing moment for Tyler as fumbles over Oyebanjo's harmless long ranger. It gives York a corner but the Town clear. 63 mins - Second booking for the Town, this time Poku's in the book. 62 mins - Town pressing now looks like they've gone 433 with McAllister up top with Willmott and Gray. 58 mins First change for the Town, Crow replaced by Craig McAllister. 55 mins - End-to-end, almost 1-1, hearts in mouths for the Town, Reed is in goal this time, pokes a shot at goal and then gets a second bite to stab the ball home but just before he pulls the trigger, Poku hacks clear. 53 mins - Oh, oh, it should be 2-0, again the Town work hard to force York into a mistake, Poku doing well to eventually find Gray who is in on goal with Ingham to beat but the York keeper stands tall to save the low shot. 52 mins - Half a sniff for the Town, Willmott is dispossessed on the edge of the box but the York challenge only succeeds in finding Crow haring in on goal, but his effort is blocked by Ingham. 46 mins Annnnnnd we're off for the second half as York restart here. Town now shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end. No changes for either side at the interval. HALF-TIME And that's the end of the first half here and the Town go in 1-0 up thanks to Andre Gray's fifth minute goal. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half. 45 mins - One added minute to half-time here. 40 mins - Willmott the first man in the book tonight for a foul just in front of the press box on Challinor. 39 mins - Osano leaning onto Walker in the box, nothing given by the ref. York on top now. 37 mins - Eight minutes to the break. A second before half-time of big importance to the Town's chances tonight. 32 mins - Crickey, York upping it, Lanre Oyebanjo, 25 yards out sees a low strike ping back off the post. Relief all round. 29 mins - Wow, that was close...Town might be bossing things but they're given a wake-up call as Patrick McLaughlin slides in Jamie Reed and the York man is one-on-one with Tyler. The winner? The Hatters' goalkeeper, who does brilliantly to keep out a tame effort. 25 mins - Hatters still on top here, Tyler not been troubled. 23 mins - Town playing some of the best football we've seen for a while here...Gray, lovely dummy, gets a move going down the right, then Osano swaps passes with Crow to drill a low first-time shot inches wide of Ingham's left-hand post. Crowd appreciating it. 20 mins - Hatters still well on top, Willmott does brilliantly to beat two men in the box, taking Howells' pass, but his ball across goal to Lawless is just cut out. From the resultant corner, Kovacs heads wide but he shows the referee his shirt half-hanging off following the tussle int he box. 15 mins - Town doing well so far, been a short stoppage here, York skipper Smith down receiving treatment. 12 mins - Almost 2-0. Chris Doig gets in a pickle attempting to clear a long pass forward which gives Crow the chance to shoot, on his left foot, inside the box that Ingham blocks. The rebound then falls kindly to Gray on the penalty spot to drive a shot at goal which the York keeper does well to save once more. 9 mins - Half a sight of goal for Gray once more as the Hatters go in search for 2-0. He takes a pass from Lawless 20 yards out but the striker doesn't strike it particulary cleanly and Ingham makes a comfortable save. 7 mins - Crowd responding, good atmosphere inside the ground now. Town probing for a second now. 5 mins GOAL! TOWN 1-0 York (Gray) The perfect, perfect start for the Hatters in this big game and it's new boy ANDRE GRAY with a superb goal. Latching onto Danny Crow's flick-on the striker outmuscles Chris Smith in the box to angle a low shot beyond Ingham. Brilliant goal and two in two for Andre. Get in! 2 mins - Town lining up exactly how they were last Saturday with a back four of Osano, Pilkington, Kovacs and Howells, a midfield four of Willmott on the left, Lawless on the right, Poku and Keane in the middle and Crow and Gray up front. 1 min Annnnnnd we're off and underway here at Kenilworth Road. It's the Town that get us off, they're shooting towards the Oak Road end in this first half. 19:25 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides. Town in orange, York in blue shirts. 19:15 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 2-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 1-0 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 2-1 York, Chris Rivett: 1-1 draw, James Cunliffe: 1-0 York, Bill Cole: 1-1 draw. 19:05 WEATHER WATCH Blue skies over Kenilworth Road at five past seven. A wee chilly, but it's not summer yet! 18:45 THE TEAMS Town: Tyler, Osano, Pilkington, Kovacs, Howells, Lawless, Keane, Poku, Willmott, Crow, Gray. Subs: McAllister, Blackett, Fleetwood, Kissock, Watkins. York: Ingham, Oyebango, Meredith, Smith, Reed, Walker, Blair, Challinor, Doig, McLaughlin, Gibson. Subs: Parslow, Chambers, Bopp, Moke, Blinkhorn. 18:40 TOWN UNCHANGED Full teams to follow. 18:00 WET WET WET Groundsman Richard Bird is prowling the touchline, attending to the Kenilworth Road pitch. The sprinkers have popped up and already soaked unsuspecting stewards waiting for their pre-match debrief. 17:40 REMEMBER REMEMBER It's a 7.30pm kick-off tonight. 17:00 MUST WIN There are always games in a season which become pivotal in a club's campaign. Tonight, for the Town, this is one of them. York City, their nemesis in recent seasons (the Town have won once in nine matches against them since 2009), arrive at Kenilworth Road for the second time in a fortnight. On that last occasion a last minute goal crushed the Hatters' dreams of reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy. Tonight, the Town's dreams of reaching a far more important final in North London need rekindling with three important points. As boss Gary Brabin said at his pre-match press conference yesterday: "It's a must win." York's win at Bath City on Tuesday night saw Gary Mills' side leapfrog the Town in the Blue Square Bet Premier. In doing so it knocked the Hatters out of the play-off places for the first time since early December. With the pressure now on it's a time for everyone to pull together to see the Hatters over the line and secure a place back in the top five for a crack at the end-of-season lottery for the third season running. As newly-appointed technical director Lil Fuccillo says: "On Friday night, for 90 minutes - which is a very important fixture for us - we need to get everyone behind everyone that needs the support: and that's the players and the manager." Hear, hear. So come out behind the sofas tonight and back the boys. They need you. #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  
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