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4 December 2012

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Hatters safely through in Trophy replay

TOWN 3 (O'Donnell 11, Walker 17, 70)
DORCHESTER 1 (Thompson 86)

The Hatters booked a second round trip to Matlock after coming through as comfortable 3-1 winners against Dorchester Town in the FA Trophy.

JJ O'Donnell fired home a wonderful first for the Hatters which was soon followed by Dan Walker's composed finish to give the Hatters a commanding half time lead in front of the lowest ever Town home attendance of just 897. Walker then doubled his tally with a similar effort 20 minutes from the full time whistle. Dan Thompson volleyed home the goal of the night for Dorchester but it proved to be only a consolation for the Blue Square South outfit.

Jon Shaw skippered the Hatters upon Ronnie Henry's exclusion from the starting XI. Alex Lacey was also handed a start after his substitute appearance on Saturday for the injured Dean Beckwith. James Dance was also handed his return from injury along with starts for Adam Watkins, Matt Robinson and Walker up top.

The Hatters started brightest with O'Donnell the liveliest again proving a thorn in the Magpies side as he looked to exploit the flanks as he did to such devastating effect on Saturday.

Returning Dance won the Hatters’ first corner as he looked for Shaw in the middle but his delivery was deflected behind. O'Donnell's whipped in cross was inches away from connecting with the flying Simon Ainge.

Dorchester won their first corner with little under ten minutes played which was greatly appreciated by the travelling away fans who made the brave trip from the south coast. The delivery disappointed  however and Dean Brill gathered with sumptuous ease.

The game which was played out in front of a small home attendance brought about one of the goals of the season from O'Donnell. Shaw won a towering header to set the ball back to O'Donnell on the edge of the Magpies box. O'Donnell then latched onto it before volleying an extravagant effort into the bottom corner with a thunderous right-footed strike.

Dorchester again showed their resilience as they set about their task instantly with Jake Gosling's jinking run causing worry in the Luton penalty area. Gosling picked the ball up on the edge before weaving his way inside, chopping the ball from left foot to right before letting rip at goal. The effort was deflected behind by Lacey at the expense of a corner which was subsequently dealt with by the Hatters.

Town's second came on 17 minutes again courtesy of a Shaw flick on. As the ball was lofted towards the Town skipper he rose highest to put Walker through. The Hatters front man then strolled through, skipping past the outstretched keeper to roll home from six yards with decisive action.

In another innocuous injury for the Hatters Lacey saw his evening end on 20 minutes after he left the field with a facial injury. With 10 men on the pitch for the Hatters, Dorchester played their advantage working Brill from a corner, forcing the Town keeper to palm over the crossbar. Jake Howells then replaced the injured Lacey to reinstate the Hatters full eleven.

Another teasing set-piece from O'Donnell found his intended target in Ainge as he rose uncontested to power at goal. His header unfortunately missed the target with the Hatters still two to the good.

The Hatters nearly added a third on the half hour mark when Robinson slipped Walker into the channel and his attempted pull back rebounded to the feet of Dance. He then fired off a thunderous right footed drive which just went wide.

The Magpies then replaced Neil Martin with Jake Smeeton who slotted in at full-back in an attack minded change for the visitors as they again looked to overturn a two goal Kenilworth Road deficit.

That change nearly brought about its rewards instantly as Lewis Morgan scampered through on goal. He then shifted the ball onto his left side before pulling the trigger at goal which was prevented by Ainge's athletic lunge.

Another real chance for the Magpies followed the 40 minute mark as Richard Logan was released with a clear sighting at goal. His effort however was tamely drilled into the grateful clutches of Brill who restarted the Town possession.

With Dorchester beginning to react to their predicament the Hatters went on the offensive with a counter attacking charge led by the pacey duo of Dance and Walker. Dance carried the ball deep into the Magpies half before switching it out wide to Walker who drove past the challenge and squared into the goalmouth. The cut back was read and dealt with accordingly by central defender Charlie Clough however to maintain a 2-0 scoreline at the half time interval.

The second half started with another big chance for the visitors. A searching ball forward was brought down impeccably by Logan with a mid-air outstretched toe which killed the ball dead. Dorchester's number 10 then unleashed a shot at goal which bounced low into Brill's arms.

The Magpies continued to search for that evasive breakthrough as Sam Malsom drilled a cross into Logan who attempted to nod down to the feet of Ben Watson. Ainge read the danger and hammered it clear before Watson could make contact.

With this continued pressure applied by the visitors the Hatters utilised the fast-paced counter attack once again with Walker reaping the benefits. Upon receiving the ball wide Walker cut inside and ignored the support of Shaw to fire at the target which found the side netting.

Lawless again caused problems as he tricked his way past one before dropping the shoulder and selling a dummy to another. The Welshman then lauded an effort at goal which sawed over the crossbar to the relief of Jason Matthews in the Dorchester net.

As the defensive frailties began to open up for the visitors Walker helped himself to his second of the evening after Watkins threaded a wonderfully weighted pass through the Magpies back line. Walker, once again, rounded the sprawling dive of Matthews before composing himself to slot home for the Hatters third.

A Hat-Trick chance followed for Walker as substitute Stuart Fleetwood flashed the ball across the goalmouth with Walker's desperate lunge inches from his treble.

The Hatters began to really assert their dominance on the game after the third with Robinson also coming close after a robust run into the box gave him the chance to fire goal wards. The former Leicester City youth player's left footed effort was calmly gathered in by Matthews to prevent a fourth.

A deserving consolation for Dorchester with five minutes of normal time left gave the Hatters a tense end to the evening. Gosling drove down the left flank before swinging in a vicious cross which was matched by substitute Dan Thompson's sumptuous volley to spoil Brill's clean sheet.

Seconds remained on the clock as Dorchester overloaded with bundles of threat inside the Town box when Robinson swept a long clearance to free Fleetwood in on goal. Town's top scorer controlled well before his heavy second touch saw the ball spray out of play with the keeper stranded on his 18-yard-box. The miss did little to cloud the result as Paul Buckle's men march into the second round via a convincing 3-1 result.

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