Jon Shaw’s goal saw the Luton faithful leave Kenilworth Road in a bubbly mood ahead of next week’s curtain raiser against Gateshead.Town 1 (0) Orient 0 (0)
Attendance: 1,607 (111 away)
Shaw climbed above his marker in the 47th minute to head Town in front at the Kenilworth Road End – a sight fans will hope to see repeated on numerous occasions during the forthcoming season.
After shutting out Hitchin, St Albans, Wycombe, Ipswich and Brackley in pre-season Town were aiming for another clean sheet and a win to send them into the season’s opener in buoyant mood. Meanwhile, having suffered 1-0 defeats to Ebbsfleet and Dartford in their pre-season, Orient were keen to avoid a hat-trick of losses against Blue Square Bet Premier opposition.
The Hatters lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with JJ O’ Donnell the only change to the eleven which started against Ipswich. The O’s included former Stoke loanee Ryan Brunt on the bench, who spent a brief spell with the Hatters last season. Both teams played some neat passing football in the early stages, taking advantage of a Kenilworth Road pitch in as immaculate state as a bowls green.
A lively looking Andre Gray had two sights on goal inside the first ten minutes. Firstly, Fleetwood found space down the right, before slipping it into Gray who checked inside his marker before shooting just wide. Five minutes later Kovacs played a raking crossfield ball which Taylor brought down in the right wing position before taking on his marker. Gray again was on the end of the cutback, but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Aided by the effective link up provided by Fleetwood and with the trio of Howells, Kasim and O’ Donnell buzzing around in midfield, Gray kept finding space and he registered his third effort of the game after being put through by Fleetwood on ten minutes.
With the game settling down, the middle part of the half saw the ball knocked around in the centre of the park for large periods, with Town keeping their League 1 opponents at arm’s length. Indeed it wasn’t until 31 minutes that the O’s had their first effort on target. Odubajo set up Mooney on the edge of the area – however, his shot was straight into Tyler’s gloves.
The Orient right back was looking lively and on 38 minutes, he and Rowe-Turner tussled for the ball by the byline before Odubajo eventually shook off his marker. He layed the ball back to the diminutive Cox, however, he could only screw his shot past Tyler’s post.
Just prior to half time Town won a freekick right on the edge of the D. After some discussion between Kasim, O’ Donnell and Howells, it was eventually the Iraqi who struck it, curling it round the wall but past the post as well. Half time saw just one change for Town with new signing Shaw replacing Fleetwood. The former Gateshead man took just two minutes to ender himself to Hatters’ fans, his powerful header giving Allsop no chance.
Shaw was moving well and troubling the O’s defence with his intelligent running and aerial presence. Five minutes later he found space on the left of the area, but the angle was too tight to register a meaningful shot. Luton were beginning to exert their authority on the game but it was Orient who came closest in the next 20 minutes, Symes heading wide after the O’s managed to press Luton back in the 65th minute.
Chances were at a premium as the half drew to a close, but Lawless almost made it two when breaking from the right back position in the 83rd minute. Taking a moment to set himself the Welsh midfielder kept his shot low but drilled past the post.
With two minutes left, Gray, a thorn in the opposition’s side all afternoon, turned his marker and lashed a shot which narrowly failed to find the target.
Kovacs headed a freekick wide in added time, with the final whistle blowing moments later.
It was the perfect way to gear up for Gateshead, where another Luton win and Jon Shaw goal will do very nicely!
Luton: Mark Tyler, Ronnie Henry (capt), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Janos Kovacs, Greg Taylor (Lawless 76), Jake Howells (Galliford 90), Yaser Kasim, JJ O’ Donnell (Watkins 52), Stuart Fleetwood (Shaw 46), Scott Rendell, Andre Gray
Subs: Dean Brill, Dean Beckwith, Adam Watkins, Matty Robinson, Jon Shaw, Jake Woolley, Dan Walker, Alex Lawless, Charlie Smith, Isacc Galliford,
Orient: Ryan Allsop, Gary Sawyer, Lloyd James (McSweeney 80), Scott Cuthbert (Chorley 61), Nathan Clarke (capt), Gary Sawyer, Jimmy Smith, Anthony Griffith (Ertl 45), Dean Cox (Laird 87), Micahel Symes, Moses Odubajo, David Mooney (Brunt 61).
Leon McSweeney, Ben Chorley, Marc Laird, Ryan Brunt, Jon Ertl, Ahmed Kashi.
Man of the match: Yaser Kasim